Rickie Smith has been resilient if anything when it has come to putting together major sponsors over his decades of doorslammer drag racing. This year might provide his biggest challenge. 

Smith confirmed with CompetitionPlus.com that his major sponsor Vallen notified him they weren't picking up his 2018 option. 

Smith's program began with IDG, which was bought out three years ago by Vallen.

"The lady at Vallen who kept my program going left the company about a month before Thanksgiving, and that’s about when my contract always got signed, in October," Smith explained. "They just decided they weren’t going to be in the racing stuff anymore."

Smith is going to step outside of his norm for this season, and while he won't declare 2018 his last, he likely won't race out of pocket beyond this year. 

"I’m going to race one more year," Smith said. "I kind of was gearing up for something like this to happen. [Kalid al-] Balooshi’s on board, Johnathan [Gray] is probably going to pick and choose a minimum of four races, hadn’t decided that yet totally. But, I’m going to race, you know." 

Smith hasn't publicized his sponsorship status before this article but says he's wide-open working on new programs to fill the void. 

"Just roll with the punches, you know," Smith said. "I’ve been out here 43 years, and you’re going to have sponsors, and you’re going to lose them."