Each week SB Nation’s NASCAR reporter Jordan Bianchi answers your questions about the latest news and happenings within the sport. If you have a future mailbag question, email email@example.com.
Richard Petty Motorsports doesn’t have a sponsor or driver for next year. Shouldn’t the team have both by now and is it a bad sign that the team has neither? It feels like this may be the end for the 43 car.
Ideally by this point in the season teams have solidified their driver-sponsor lineup for the next year, or are at least closing to doing so. That RPM has not is concerning, as the departure of Smithfield Foods to Stewart-Haas Racing is an unquestionable setback.
If a sponsor can be found, RPM would like to sign Darrell Wallace Jr. to drive the No. 43 Ford. That’s a big if at this juncture, however. Finding a company willing and able to spend the necessary millions is a challenge considering most companies already have finalized their marketing plans set for the following year.
Working in RPM’s favor is Richard Petty is the public face of the team and Wallace is one of NASCAR’s more charismatic and talented rising stars. They offer a potential sponsor two excellent and recognizable spokesmen.
But as Smithfield pointedly stated in announcing its decision to join SHR, companies desire more than just personalities. Results are also required. And on this front, RPM doesn’t have much to offer with the single-car team perpetually engulfed in mediocrity. The team’s lone victory since 2013 came in a rain-shortened restrictor-plate race, and its current 25th-place ranking in owner points is an accurate representation of its standing within the team hierarchy.
Maybe with the right partner, RPM can change its fortunes. Such a turnaround is not improbable. More than likely, RPM will have to piecemeal sponsorship next season while trying to land something bigger for 2019. And if that fails, the sustainability of the team looks bleak.