Lee Spencer over at FoxSports broke the news today that Richard Petty Motorsports is on the verge of closing its doors.
â€œThe assembly line from Roush Fenway Racing and Roush Yates engines, which supply chassis and engines respectively, has stopped running to RPM. Engines have been picked up, cars have been repossessed, and sources on both sides — RPM and RFR — say no cars will be delivered beyond this weekend,â€ said Spencer.
Richard Petty Motorsports has cars prepped and ready for Talladega. But does not have engines or gears for those cars.
George Gillett is the majority owner of the team, with Petty as the front man running the operation. Gillett and John Henry, a partner in Roush Fenway Racing, are currently involved in a legal battle over the sale of another sports franchise â€“ a soccer team; the Liverpool Football Club of the Premier League in England.
Employees at Richard Petty Motorsports were told today that they may not have jobs following Sundayâ€™s race at Martinsville.
The news leaves 3 drivers with their futures in question. Marcos Ambrose was slated to take the wheel of the No. 9 car next year to replace Kahne who is headed to Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, and who is making a stop at Red Bull for 2011. A.J. Allmendinger and Elliott Sadler would also be left without rides if the doors close at the race shop. Paul Menard also drives for the team, but is already set to move to Richard Childress Racing next year.
Petty joined Gillett after merging his own race team with Boston Ventures. That team later was merged with Gillettâ€™s team.
It will be a shame if we no longer see the No. 43 on the track after all these years. What do you think?
Elliott Sadler Back in the 19 Car
On the heels of yesterday’s announcement that the merger between Gillette Evernham Motorsports and Petty Enterprises was a done deal it was announced that Elliott Sadler would be back in the No. 19 Dodge for 2009 after all.
This is a pretty strange story that started just after Christmas when Tara Ragan, the business manager for A.J. Allmendinger, said that Allmendinger would drive the No. 19 next year after finishing the season in GEM’s No. 10 car.
The story got even stranger when Elliott Sadler’s attorney filed an order in Superior Court – not asking for money – but demanding that Sadler drive the car.
We will probably never get the full story from GEM on exactly what happened, or why it was handled this way, but it appears that one of two things happened.
Either GEM backed down when Sadler threatened legal action, or GEM was simply using Allmendinger as a bargaining chip to gain concessions from Sadler.
Tom Redden, the CEO of Gillette Evernham Motorsports, indicated there issues between Sadler and the race team that have now been resolved. “We have our differences. But we get those settled and resolved and we move on. We had some differences with Elliott, but we’re a family and we have everything resolved,” said Redden on Sirius Radio’s ‘The Morning Drive’ Friday.
If I were Kasey Kahne I’d be looking for a ride in another car right now. At least to keep the options open.
Now it’s Allmendinger who is once again looking for work. Although GEM has promised him a part-time 8 race deal, and has indicated a full time ride might be available if a sponsor could be found.
Elliott Sadler Replaced by Allmendinger at GEM
Elliott Sadler has been released by Gillett Evernham Motorsports from the No. 19 Sprint Cup Dodge for 2009. Sadler will be replaced by AJ Allmendinger.
Allmendinger was hired by GEM to finish the final 5 races in the 2008 season replacing Patrick Carpentier in the No. 10 Dodge. He was able to improve the No. 10 cars performance, though he never scored a top 10 finish in those 5 races.
“They asked AJ to do a job, and he exceeded their expectations,” said Tara Ragan, Allmendinger’s business manager.
I knew that Allmendinger would find a ride — he’s an extremely talented driver. I’m just disappointed that it came at Elliott Sadler’s expense.
Daytona 500 Winner Endorses Obama
This is NASCAR after all – where Barack Obama enjoys slightly less popularity than Kyle Busch.
Here’s the email:
Join me in supporting Barack. My family and I have given this election a lot of thought.
Our country is in a rough spot, and we’re going to need some serious change. There’s only one candidate ready to deliver it — and that’s Barack Obama.
Every day I talk to someone else who’s never voted for a Democrat, but now they’re voting for Barack Obama. They realize that Barack understands what we’re going through here in North Carolina. And they’re ready for change.
So I’ve made up my mind, and I’m ready to get involved. I know that I could never have won a race without my pit crew, and I know Barack can’t win this one without us.
Can you sign up to volunteer this last crucial week?
When I talk to folks about why I support Barack, I just tell it like I see it.
There’s been a lot thrown at him this election, and he’s stayed calm, positive, and focused. I know a little something about how important it is to stay cool under pressure.
And with all the dangers in our world today, that’s the kind of rock-solid leadership our country needs.
These days, I run a small country ham and pork skins business. Barack Obama will fight for a fair economy where small businesses like mine have the freedom to grow, and he’ll defend the Second Amendment to protect the hunter’s way of life.
But the most important reasons I’m speaking out for Barack Obama are named Robert and Meredith, my two children. My wife Lisa and I talked it over, and honestly, we know in our gut that their future is more secure if Barack Obama is president.
At the end of the day, there’s just nothing more important than that.
That’s why I’m going to talk to my neighbors this week, and I’m asking you to do the same. This election in North Carolina is going to be one of the closest ever, and we all need to lend a hand.
I’ve been in a lot of races in my life. But this may be the most important one of all. So let’s all get in gear and win it together.
P.S. — I know what it means to run an aggressive race, but I also know what it means to compete with integrity. Have you gotten one of these pre-recorded calls that are flooding our state smearing Barack Obama’s character and questioning his patriotism? That’s crossing the line, and North Carolinians deserve better. Help fight back by canvassing this week to tell your neighbors the truth about Barack.
Junior Johnson has 50 wins in NASCAR – including the 1960 Daytona 500.
On top of that he has 132 wins as a NASCAR owner. The driver’s who have raced in Junior Johnson’s race cars reads like the induction list for the NASCAR Hall of fame. Here’s some of the drivers who have driven for Junior Johnson:
Â· Bobby Isaac
Â· Curtis Turner
Â· Darel Dierenger
Â· A. J. Foyt
Â· Fred Lorenzen
Â· Gordon Johncock
Â· LeeRoy Yarbrough
Â· Donnie Allison
Â· David Pearson
Â· Cale Yarborough
Â· Richard Childress
Â· Darrell Waltrip
Â· J. D. McDuffie
Â· Geoff Bodine
Â· Neil Bonnett
Â· Davey Allison
Â· Terry Labonte
Â· Davey Allison
Â· Bill Elliott
Â· Sterling Marlin
Â· Jimmy Spencer
Johnson has 6 NASCAR championships as a car owner. Three with Cale Yarborough, and three with Darrell Waltrip.
Johnson is the man who brought the R. J. Reynolds sponsorship to NASCAR.
Today Johnson is a successful North Carolina businessman who sells his own line of country ham, pork rinds, as well as Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon – a legal moonshine.
The Last American Hero is a movie on Junior Johnson’s life. it’s based on the biographyÂ by Tom Wolfe.
In 1956 Johnson was convicted and sentenced to federal prison for illegal moonshining. He was pardoned by Ronald Reagan in 1986.
This is the only current or former driver I’ve heard of endorsing Obama. I was really surprised to hear it. I’ll leave my endorsement out of it. I’ll just say that I’ve already voted, and I hope you do the same.
A.J. Headed to Ganassi
It looks like A.J. Allmendinger will be out of the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota – possibly before the end of the year.
Allmendinger is headed to Chip Ganassi’s No. 41 Dodge in 2009.
A former open wheel star, Allmendinger has struggled so far in NASCAR, but his performance seemed to be improving in the second half of this year. Compare that to his Champ Car stats, where he has 6 wins in just 39 starts.
Still, Allmendinger has just one top 10 for the year – a 10th place finish at Indianapolis.
I’m not sure if this is a good move for Allmendinger. Red Bull seems to be a team on the rise while Chip Ganassi racing continues to struggle. However, rumors continue to circulate that Ganassi will merge his operation with another race team – possibly Michael Waltrip Racing.
Filed under: Dale Earnhardt, Kyle Busch, Media, NASCAR Charities, NASCAR Owners, Silly Season, Tony Stewart
Dale Jr Swears it was an Accident
Jimmie Johnson might have won the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 Sunday, but it was once again Dale Earnhardt Jr and Kyle Busch grabbing headlines amid controversy.
“If I wanted to do it, I would do it really, really good.” ~ Dale Jr on the Kyle Busch crash
It looked like the same wreck the 2 drivers were involved in the last time they came to Richmond – but this time it was Kyle Busch who hit the wall, not Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Busch and Earnhardt were locked in a heated battle for the lead midway through the race when the 2 cars touched sending Kyle’s Toyota into the wall.
Junior insisted the crash was accidental — but he seemed to leave plenty of room to read between the lines in his comments.
When asked if he had intentionally put Busch into the wall, Dale Earnhardt Jr said “I really ain’t never wrecked anybody on purpose. But if I wanted to do it, I would do it really, really good.”
“If I wreck somebody, I ain’t going to leave him in good enough shape to come back and get me in the same race, so that wasn’t really my intentions.”
Kyle Busch felt that he knew exactly what happened. “Junior got in there a little too hot, a little close to me , and smoked the tires,” said Busch, who left the Richmond with the points lead.
One reporter asked Busch if he thought the wreck was payback from the spring race at Richmond.
“Was that revenge?Â Who knows?” Busch replied flatly.
Dale Earnhardt Jr finished the race 4th — while Busch was credited with a 15th place finish.
Do you think it was revenge?
Hendrick Motorsports put an end to speculation today with an official announcement that Casey Mears will be out of the No. 5 Sprint Cup series car at the end of the 2008 season.
“We’ve put a ton of emphasis on the No. 5 program, itâ€™s been a total team effort, and Casey has worked as hard as anyone to help us improve. We’ve tested more than we ever have, but the results just haven’t come,â€ Rick Hendrick said in the official statement from Hendrick Motorsports.
“None of us, Casey included, have been satisfied with the situation this season. But he’s confident there are other options out there for him in 2009, and we feel like Hendrick Motorsports will have some opportunities, too,” Hendrick continued, in what could be the understatement of the year.
Opportunities are definitely abundant for Hendrick right now â€“ Tony Stewart has made it painfully clear heâ€™s ready to get back into a Chevrolet, and Ryan Newman has put himself on the market in search of a championship caliber ride.
Then thereâ€™s Mark Martin, who looks to be leaving DEI at the end of the year. Martin may want to step back into a full time ride and make one more run at a championship â€“ or would he be content to continue to run a partial schedule and help groom Dale Earnhardt Jr protÃ©gÃ© Brad Keselowski for a full time ride.
Then thereâ€™s Martin Truex Jr, also ready to bolt from DEI â€“ Truex and Earnhardt together at Hendrick would be a powerhouse similar to what Waltrip and Junior were back when they were winning all those restrictor plate races.
One thingâ€™s for sure â€“ whatever happens will be interesting to watch.