View Full Version : Richard Petty Motorsports on the ropes

10-24-2010, 12:41 AM
Next week's race at Talladega Superspeedway could very well be the final event for Richard Petty Motorsports.

The future of the four-car team that bears the iconic name of the king of NASCAR was thrown into doubt this week when Roush-Fenway Racing, which builds RPM's cars and engines, briefly confiscated the team's equipment for Talladega.

RPM is competing at Martinsville this weekend and likely will be at Talladega next week, but beyond that there is some doubt over whether the team can finish the season, much less field cars in 2011.

The satellite radio show Sirius Speedway is reporting that RPM owes about $12 million -- most of it to Roush-Fenway.

The financial situation at RPM -- which is actually run by George and Foster Gillett -- is murky. George Gillett failed in his bid to keep control of the Liverpool soccer team this week. The person he lost the team to and is threatening to sue is Boston Red Sox owner John Henry, who is the Fenway half of Roush-Fenway.

This is the team, of course, that started out as Ray Evernham Motorsports and an affiliation with Dodge. But Evernham needed a business partner and brought in George Gillett, who at the time was owner of the Montreal Canadiens NHL team. Evernham later got pushed out and the team ended up merging with Petty Enterprises, which was having financial problems, and switched to Ford and an alliance with Roush-Fenway.

Negotiations are reportedly going on to keep the RPM team afloat, but things are not looking good. Crew members have been bringing their heavy tool boxes home with them each day, apparently afraid they might get boarded up.

Jack Roush told Speed TV today in Martinsville that a payment plan has been worked out at least temporarily with RPM.

But the big question is whether RPM survive as even a two-car team in 2011. The team cut Kasey Kahne loose this week. He'll be driving the No. 83 Toyota for Red Bull Racing this week at Martinsville after the fiasco at Charlotte.

At Charlotte, his brakes failed, he became furious, reportedly threw up from being ill, didn't get back in the repaired car that was eventually driven by JJ Yeley and then ran in a 5K race the next morning.

Kahne was slated to go to Red Bull anyway next year for just one season until he can move over to Hendrick Motorsports once Mark Martin leaves.

Elliott Sadler was told weeks ago that he wouldn't be kept and is likely to drive a Nationwide car for Kevin Harvick Inc. next season. And Paul Menard jumped ship, taking his family sponsorship with him to Richard Childress Racing next year.

The team signed AJ Allmendinger to a long-term deal earlier this year to drive Petty's old No. 43. And the team added Marcos Ambrose to drive the No. 19 next year.

Whether there is still a team for Ambrose and Allmendinger to drive for next year remains to be seen.

If the team doesn't survive, it's going to blow a big hole in the competitiveness of the Sprint Cup Series. Four quality teams falling by the wayside won't be replaced by four other competitive teams.

It would create some opportunities for new teams or existing teams in other series to try to get a foothold in the Cup Series, but in the short term there would be fewer cars competing up front.


10-24-2010, 11:50 PM
Would suck for Ambrose and Dinger if they do fold. Those are two talented drivers that they can build around.

10-25-2010, 05:10 PM
Would suck for Ambrose and Dinger if they do fold. Those are two talented drivers that they can build around.

True story, I think AJ would be very highly sought after by teams with room...maybe Roush putting him in the very disappointing 6 car

10-25-2010, 05:37 PM
Sad to see this happen. The Pettys have been involved in Nascar since the very first race they ever had and to see it end like this is heart breaking. With an acception of the wood brothers this is the last of the generation before Nascar was telivised regularly. The sport used to be almost a family bussiness now its just a marketing bussiness. When you look back just 15 years ago and see the teams that where around then that couldnt survive now its pretty amazing. Yates was probably the most obvious coming off winning 2 Daytona 500's and a points championship and they still folded. Morgan McClure racing that pretty much dominated the restrictor plate races in the 90's. DEI looked destined to be one of the sports top teams but they went up in smoke. Bill Davis for about 10 years ran consistant and even won the Daytona 500 but even his team couldnt survive. Even Andy Petree couldnt survive as an owner.