NASCAR News for Wednesday, May 6, 2009

RPM to Begin Using New Dodge Engine

ESPN is reporting that Richard Petty Motorsports will begin using the current spec Dodge engine, the R6P8, at Dover in three weeks. The team has stuck with the older, proven R5P7 engine while Penske Championship Racing’s three teams have run all season with the newer engines.

This will not be a complete switchover all at once. The team currently only plans to switch one team over to the new engine right away, and then phase it into the other three RPM teams. Though it has not been decided who would get the engine first, conventional wisdom would have preference given to Kasey Kahne. However, the team will only give Kahne the newer-spec engine if he has a realistic chance of moving up into the top 12.

Vice President of Race Operations Robbie Loomis said that development of the R6P8 engine is roughly a month behind schedule, mostly because the No. 44 of A.J. Allmendinger is still racing every weekend. The team had only anticipated running Allmendinger for the first five races of the season, but as a result of Allmendinger’s surprise success and the increased amount of sponsorship that the No. 44 has generated, more manpower has been shifted towards the No. 44 and away from engine development.

Another reason that the team has been slow in their development of the R6P8 is that the team already has a substantial stockpile of the older-spec engines that they still want to put to use.

“In these tough times, we’ve got to look at it and make certain going in the direction of the R6P8 is going to be both a performance advantage and fiscally responsible,” RPM’s Vice President of Competition, Mark McArdle, said back in January.

Penske has shown thus far that the R6P8 certainly has a performance advantage over the R5P7. The new engine boasts extra horsepower and great reliability (no failures as of yet). The old engines in the RPM cars have not failed during a race, but all the RPM cars had issues at Talladega that forced engine changes before the race. In addition, the cars have been off the pace horsepower-wise this season.

Michael Waltrip Racing Signs Associate Sponsor

On Tuesday, Michael Waltrip Racing announced an associate sponsorship with Lowe’s Foods, a Winston-Salem, NC-based grocery store chain.

The grocery store will have their green and white logo on David Reutimann’s No. 00 Aaron’s Toyota and Michael Waltrip’s No. 55 NAPA Toyota during the All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 weekends at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. In addition, Lowe’s Foods will serve as the primary sponsor of Reutimann’s No. 99 in the Nationwide Series Dollar General 300 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on October 16.

This is not the first time that Lowe’s Foods has been involved in NASCAR. Back in the late 1980s, the chain often sponsored the No. 87 car in the then-Busch Grand National Series. After a blow over flip in practice at Daytona in February, 1989, Dale Earnhardt ran the Lowe’s Foods colors in the Goody’s 300 with his usual No. 3. Earnhardt brought the Lowe’s Foods Pontiac home in fourth.

More recently, the chain has appeared on Busch Series cars with household sponsors at races in the Carolinas. Tim Fedewa had Lowe’s Foods on the side of his No. 33 Kleenex Chevrolet for a couple of races in 1998.

Sun Drop to Sponsor No. 01 NNS Entry

On Tuesday, Johnny Davis Motorsports announced a sponsorship deal with Sun Drop, a popular St. Louis-based citrus soda that is a division of the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. The deal is for an undisclosed number of races and starts at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on May 23.

Sun-Drop used to be the sponsor of the Busch Grand National spring races at Hickory Motor Speedway in 1994 and 1995. However, the company is best known to race fans as a product personally endorsed in the 1980s and 1990s by the late Earnhardt.

Driver Danny O’Quinn Jr. is very pleased with the new sponsorship.

“I am honored to team with the Sun Drop brand,” O’Quinn said on Tuesday. “I hope I can represent [Sun Drop] as well as Dale Sr. Sun Drop is a brand I drink, [and] I will wear their colors proud.”

The deal is definitely for more than one race, and the future undisclosed races will definitely fall within the distribution regions for Sun Drop Citrus Soda. This region is primarily the Southeast and parts of the Midwest (Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc.).

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About Phil Allaway

Phil Allaway
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor. Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as Tony Stewart's Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions.

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