Richard Petty Motorsports was interested in the possibility of adding Kurt Busch to its stable to take the reigns of the No. 43 Ford as a replacement for A.J. Allmendinger.
But ultimately it was the team's sponsor who nixed the deal.
Team owner Richard Petty said Smithfield Foods, who signed on to back new driver Aric Almirola for fifteen races this season, wasn't interested in associating the company with Busch at the time.
"Nobody at that time, [they] didn’t want to pay the bill for him,” Petty said. “That’s just how simple it was. Everybody has got to protect their brand. Smithfield has a pretty good, laid-back, down-home persona with the general public. Taking him on, it could change.
“They just didn’t like the personality. … About everybody we talked to, they said, ‘Maybe in six months or a year.’”
Smithfield, who will co-sponsor the iconic 43 with the Air Force this coming season, did like Almirola and was pleased the former Nationwide and truck series driver wound up in the seat.
Almirola's stint for the team in 2010 when he finished the year for Kasey Kahne left a lasting impression on the Petty organization.
“Everybody was impressed with what he did, how he’d done it, how he got along with the crew and how he communicated back to let them know what’s going on with the car,” Petty said.
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