Best Buy dumped their sponsorship of the iconic No. 43 driven by A.J. Allmendinger at Richard Petty Motorsports to jump on board with Roush Fenway Racing.
Best Buy will now be the primary sponsor of the No. 99 driven by Carl Edwards for two races and also be the primary sponsor of Matt Kenseth's No. 17 for nine races.
Though it seems unfair for a sponsor to jump ship on a weaker Ford team to go with a stronger one, it is after all their money.
Management at Richard Petty Motorsports can't be too pleased with this major loss of funding, especially with the partnership shared with RFR for engines, chassis and technical support along with Ford.
Obviously the appeal of Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth is much more impressive than that of Allmendinger. The racing accomplishments of Edwards and Kenseth speak volumes to sponsors.
Though RPM still has some sponsors that will remain loyal to them at this point, the company with the big bucks is gone.
The question now remains as to what sponsor might come on board with RPM and will they want Allmendinger as the driver or perhaps a stronger wheelman.
The concept of Kurt Busch driving the No. 43 is not off the table, but the original theory was that he might be the driver to keep Best Buy from fleeing RPM.
It is unimaginable to think that the No. 43 will not be on the track full-time during the upcoming season.
Allmendinger could well be out as driver of the legendary car if sponsorship is dependent upon a driver with more credentials.
Perhaps the ultimate sponsorship deal would be to have STP return to sponsor the famous No. 43 just as they did for so many years with Richard Petty.
The new season is about to begin with testing at Daytona. This situation with Best Buy has to be a stunning blow to Richard Petty Motorsports.
We now must wait to see who will rescue the No. 43 at RPM and what driver will be behind the wheel.
Update: It was announced on December 21, 2011 that A.J. Allmendinger will drive the No. 22 for Penske Racing. David Ragan could be a potential candidate to drive the No. 43.