Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
The Cool Down Lap · Doug Turnbull · Sunday April 18, 2010
Richard Petty is the most accomplished NASCAR driver of all-time and one of the most decorated, celebrated legends in all of motorsports history. His 200 career Cup victories and 27 wins in 1967 will never be matched and his seven championships have only been equaled by Dale Earnhardt. Petty’s squeaky clean, fan friendly, Christian persona is so rich in each of these qualities that the second-generation, Southern born and bred driver and owner seems cut from an American folk story. These real qualities still burn bright in the memories of many of The NASCAR Faithful and help to deflect the last two-plus decades of Petty Family disappointment. And in the interest of not diluting these grand images, now is the time that Richard Petty needs to step away from NASCAR.
While Petty languished no better than mid-pack most of the last decade of his driving career in the 80’s, and then stepped atop the pit box only to watch his famed No. 43 and its stable mates do no better for the last 18 years, Petty’s image has been hurt the most by developments in the last three seasons. After sponsor Cheerios announced its pending defection from the No. 43 Dodge and driver Bobby Labonte in February 2008, Petty, team executive Robbie Loomis and others at Petty Enterprises knew that cash flow was going to morph from a serious problem to a near terminal catastrophe. Fresh off of a controversial move from the team’s original race shop on the Petty property in Randleman, North Carolina to the old Yates Racing shop in Mooresville, Petty Enterprises was in serious need of cash flow. Along came Boston Ventures to solve that problem.
In June 2008, much to the chagrin of son Kyle, Richard Petty signed the controlling interest of Petty Enterprises over to Boston Ventures, a portfolio company that was supposed to infuse both money and marketing know-how into the Petty’s sinking ship. While the idea looked sound on paper, the idea that NASCAR’s most iconic team—an organization alive since NASCAR’s inception—would no longer have the Petty family name as its primary holder seemed wrong. The relationship, however, would be short-lived, as the economic climate took a turn for the worse.
The sinking economy, particularly the failure of the American automobile industry, prompted many teams, including the revamped Petty Enterprises, to discuss mergers and contraction. A rumored partnership between Petty Enterprises and the Toyota teams of Michael Waltrip Racing and Bill Davis Racing never materialized late in the 2008 season. But fellow Dodge team Gillett Evernham Motorsports, suffering from similar cash flow problems, came calling just over one month before the 2009 Daytona 500 with an offer too good for the Petty brass to refuse.
GEM and PE would merge to keep the sponsor-less No. 43 car afloat and the team would operate from the GEM shop. Existing GEM sponsors and funding would be spread thin to fund the No. 43 and GEM’s superior marketing efforts and financial resources would ensure the team’s survival in future years. The cost, of course, would be that almost all ownership of the company would fall into owner George Gillett and his financial team’s hands, further diminishing any remnants of Petty Enterprises. The new organization, though, would brand itself with The King’s name, morphing into Richard Petty Motorsports. GEM’s existing full stable of drivers meant that 2000 Cup champion Bobby Labonte would lose his seat in the No. 43 for 2009, in favor of fourth-year driver Reed Sorenson.
The merger also meant Kyle Petty, who had been looking to diminish his seat time with the team, would completely lose his ride at once with his family’s race team. A.J. Allmendinger drove the rebranded No. 44 (formerly the GEM No. 10 team), debuting it in the 2009 Daytona 500 with a retro-Valvoline paint scheme from Kyle’s ARCA debut 30 years earlier, drawing great ire from the suddenly retired driver.
2009 brought mixed results for RPM. Kasey Kahne, sporting Budweiser colors (a longtime Petty family no-no) on the No. 9, won twice and qualified for the Chase, but was hung out to dry in the year’s final 10 races. A.J. Allmendinger parlayed what was supposed to be an eight-race deal with the team into a full schedule, on the strength of several promising runs. But Elliott Sadler in the No. 19 and Reed Sorenson in the No. 43 struggled, as funding for the organization was drying up faster than an ice cube on a Nevada blacktop.
By mid-season, Sorenson had been asked to either forego his salary and drive for free or see the No. 43 team shut down, an imperative that Petty himself likely would never have hung over one of his drivers. The end of 2009 saw RPM merge with Yates Racing and add No. 98 Paul Menard and his sponsor’s team, squeezing Sorenson from the No. 43 ride in favor of Allmendinger. The No. 44 team was shut down (or at least the unnecessary members of it were let go) and RPM’s engine shop suddenly became unnecessary, as RPM now had become a Ford team and would use Roush Yates engines. Dozens lost their jobs.
Petty tradition, which once bucked the trend of bigger race teams, gave way to the Almighty Dollar. Firm agreements with established drivers are eroding to the wayside in favor of murky, unfavorable partnerships to simply survive. Take the merger with Gillett. Richard Petty chose to align his company with an owner who is now reportedly in default of payment on a $90 million loan. The headlines do not say, “George Gillett is in default…” They always read “Richard Petty Motorsports is in default…”
The shell of Petty’s team is also now in bed with an owner and organization who have shown extreme disloyalty in the past. GEM fired Scott Riggs from the No. 10 car in late 2007 in favor of Patrick Carpentier who satiated their need for a trendy open wheel driver convert. However, they only did the same to Carpentier after a bad qualifying lap at Talladega in fall 2008. In that same time period, GEM exercised its option in Elliott Sadler’s contract to prevent him from jumping ship to the open fourth team spot at Richard Childress Racing. They then asked Sadler to take a pay cut at the end of the season and then, without telling Sadler, announced A.J. Allmendinger as the driver of the No. 19 Dodge! Sadler sued to keep his ride, won, and somehow remains with the team, though his lackluster results have to spell his firing (again) sometime soon. GEM also skewered Robby Gordon Motorsports, after announcing an alliance with that team in 2008, only to give the No. 7 team an illegal nose (which initially brought Gordon a heavy penalty), never lent the No. 7 enough support to improve its results, and then tried to exercise a right to ownership of Gordon’s team.
Now, RPM is in crisis mode again. Two mergers in two years failed to boost the team’s performance enough to keep star driver Kasey Kahne, whom you may have heard is bailing after this season. Kahne’s Bud sponsorship is easily the most lucrative backer at RPM and likely is in danger of leaving, whether with Kahne or not. With debtors lurking in the shadows and threatening to seize the race team’s (not Gillett’s) assets , the future of Richard Petty Motorsports is seriously in doubt.
Petty, though, has shown no signs of pulling back from the sport. Not only is he still at the track often with his teams, but he and former Petty driver John Andretti are teaming with an Indy team to field a Petty ride in the Indy 500 – another gimmick that pastes the Petty name on a likely mediocre ride. Petty has over-played his ownership status much as he did with his driving career. With his wife, Lynda, battling cancer, Petty needs to shed this growing distraction on the ownership front and enjoy some downtime in both his and his wife’s golden years.
Richard Petty is a man who has made a reputation, first off his performance and now his name. Unfortunately, the Petty name is now attached to a sinking and sometimes corrupt ship. While the media and fans alike first praised Petty for keeping his name on the revamped RPM, the move obviously now has proven to be a mistake. The Wood Brothers have found a way to survive the changing NASCAR landscape and keep the famed No. 21 alive, but that does not mean that Petty should do the same. With his legacy firmly cemented both in our minds and in the soon-to-open NASCAR Hall of Fame, now is the time for Richard Petty to jump into the kayak and paddle off into the sunset, before that ship takes his legend down with it.
Listen to Doug weekly on The Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury Speedshop racing show with host Captain Herb Emory this Saturday, from 12-2 p.m., on News/Talk 750 WSB in Atlanta and on wsbradio.com. Doug also hosts podcasts on ChaseElliott.com and BillElliott.com.
©2000 - 2008 Doug Turnbull and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Kyle Petty did all that? I thought he just raced in the back of the pack for the past 10 years!?!?
Richard needs to run, not walk away from anything Gillette. It would be a sad ending to the name Petty and the man, to forever more be linked to the Gillettes and their garbage.
The Waltrips need to do the same. Or is it already too late there?
With Darrell making a fool out of himself weekly on TV his prestige has evaporated. And, according to the FS newsletter, Michael got caught cheating AGAIN.
Kyle stayed in the car WAY too long. Michael stayed in the car WAY too long.
But, old school drivers, like old school fans – HATE change. Just put it down and walk away, let us rembmer you for who you were.
Now that current drivers are dipping into the driver/owner money pool the future success of past drivers turned owners will be brighter.
Currently, only those guys who focus on OWNING are successful in the cup series. Hendrick, Gibbs, Roush. Conversly, only those drivers who have focused on JUST DRIVING have won championships.
But, 20 years from now we could see the owners corp of NASCAR include Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Dale Jr.
I keep reading about the people who just seem to hate DW but those same people still turn on the tv every week to listenn to him.
Never liked Petty. His 200 wins are bogus. He ran little bullrings against nobodies for years. His legacy? How about cheating? Over sized engines. Illegal tires. And lets not forget his factory backing when there was to be no factory backing
Do the words Jimmie Johnson sound like that too? Cheating? Who’s filling Brian’s pockets?
Completely agree with you, Doug. Evernham had the sense to get out of that team.
It’s a shame when guys stick around too long; when I started watching races (in the late ’90’s) I had no idea DW was ever good—he was just an old guy who didn’t belong. It wasn’t until much later I learned what a driver he was back before I was born. It’d be a shame if today’s fans only know Petty as the owner of a crappy team.
Richard Petty went into his business dealings with his eyes wide open. I’m sure the always outspoken Kyle told dad what he thought of it as family and as driver. And Richard proceeded anyway. So to say he should get out before he ruins his legacy ignores that he gave up on his long standing ideals and got in bed with snakes all by himself. The second he gave up on what made Petty Enterprises unique was the second Richard HIMSELF ruined his legacy as far as I am concerned.
Similar to many large stories in the past 5 or so years, what happened with the PE – Boston Ventures deal was one of the most poorly, incompletely reported stories in NASCAR in 2008. A company that reputedly managed over $2 billion comes into NASCAR, falls flat on its face in about 6 months, and in effect the NASCAR and business media acts like it never happened. The recent reporting on the financial problems (if any) at RPM has not been much better. In fairness to The King and his fans, you should make an effort to dig up some facts before pontificating. In any event, The King has done more than enough for NASCAR and his fans to be able to do whatever he darn well pleases. I cannot think of anyone in the media who stands as tall as Richard Petty.
Anybody making the above comments go to Martinsville this spring? They had a legends autograph session. The line for each driver was to start after the truck race. Mr. The Kings line started forming that morning. He is The King of the South after Elvis died he is all we have. If he fades away we will not have a leader. Roll your eyes at my comment if you want but understand this when Richard Petty walks into a room the room stops in awe.
I believe John Menard will be a major part of the ownership group before the year is over. If Paul continues to run strong and not have days like they had in Phoenix, John Menard will help this company with their cash flow issues. Big John has plenty of cash.
Menard’s biggest problem is that he has a sentimental attachment to a mediocre driver he’ll never be able to fire.