2018 free agents deny moves to SHR leaving Aric Almirola as Danica Patrick's likely replacement
Smithfield Foods announced Tuesday it was leaving Richard Petty Motorsports and joining Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) as a primary sponsor, leaving Danica Patrick and Aric Almirola without a ride for next season.
While Smithfield Foods will make the move to SHR, it appears Almirola will too, but that doesn't mean they'll be paired together like they have been the past six seasons at Richard Petty Motorsports.
Pending free agents Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne told reporters Wednesday they were not replacing Patrick in the No. 10 car, leaving Almirola as the likely replacement driver in 2018, ESPN.com notes.
SHR is in a bit of limbo sponsor-wise for next season. While the team didn't pick up Kurt Busch's 2018 option, it expects him back, hopefully with Monster Energy as the sponsor of the No. 41 team. Clint Bowyer still needs a primary sponsor, giving Smithfield Foods possibly three drivers to chose from.
With Almirola moving on, Darrell Wallace Jr. is expected to drive the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports car next season. Patrick's future in NASCAR remains unclear.
Patrick never won in the No. 10 car at SHR, leading 64 laps with seven top-10 finishes in just under five full seasons. Almirola hasn't fared much better, recording one win in 234 Cup Series but does have a better average finish than Patrick this season (19.6).