These days in NASCAR, a long-term deal is not what it used to be, or exists in a different way. Sure, the big-name organizations can afford to sign drivers, and even sponsors, to many multi-year deals or even wrap them up till they decide to hang up the firesuit.
Many teams live year-to-year, sometimes day-to-day. NASCAR has changed in how contracts are done, negotiated, and how sponsors see themselves in the sport.
The problem is that sometimes it's not just the teams that are trying to make the field each week. Even the most recognized names in the sport have experienced a deal where it was just one season and it was over.
That can be said of one of the most iconic men in the sport, Richard Petty.
It was 1969 when "The King" found himself in a very odd situation, not with his own team, but with his manufacturer. At the time, Petty was under the direction of Daimler-Chrysler, but after failing to back up his 1967 championship, he felt that his car was not the one he should be driving.
He approached the manufacturer, asking to be put in the more aerodynamic Dodge car to gain a better advantage on the track. However, the car makers wanted to keep Petty in the Plymouth name plate, despite the fact that in 1968 the car only had one major superspeedway victory. The two sides were on opposite ends. One wanted an aerodynamic advantage, another wanting brand loyalty.
So, in the end, Petty had decided enough was enough, and he left the Chrysler company.
In 1969, in a stunning move, Petty campaigned the Ford Torino, winning his first race out with the new car at Riverside Speedway. At the end of the year, Petty recorded four wins with the Ford name plate, an impressive year for him despite not winning a championship.
In 1970, Chrysler approached Petty in the hopes of coming back to their team, and thanks mostly in part to the Plymouth Superbird, it was a no-brainer for Petty and he was back with the long-time manufacturer.
Fast forward to this year's era, and Petty is back with Ford since 2010, but it's a different kind of one-year deal. It's not just with the manufacturer, but also his drivers.
It appeared as though Petty may go back to Dodge for the 2013 season, but before negotiations could go through, Dodge elected to withdraw from NASCAR at the end of 2012, thus ending a comeback that began in 2001 and included Petty Enterprises making a switch from GM back to Dodge. Petty was glad to resign Ford for the new season, but it was still a long process to ensure they are getting manufacturer backing.
Petty also signed one-year extensions for both team drivers Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola for 2013, after each had strong campaigns one year ago.
To see a name such as Petty having to live each season year by year is different, but in today's NASCAR, it's how some teams survive. It's been the case for Richard Petty Motorsports for the last three years, and likely something that will be common in years to come.
But as is the case, Petty is no stranger to one-year deals. He had success of his own behind the wheel. He may want to have his team, drivers, sponsors and other important aspects wrapped up for longer than 365 days, but with how NASCAR is now compared to 40 years ago, it is likely the only option for him.