Saturday, October 23, 2010
RPM working to ease financial fears
MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Richard Petty Motorsports is looking forward to finishing this season strong and already is making plans for 2011.
Robbie Loomis, the director of competition for RPM, answered questions at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday amid speculation that the organization is facing an uncertain future.
The team and driver Kasey Kahne parted ways earlier this week, and Loomis said he thinks the sudden departure of the driver has fueled talk about the team's stability.
"Like I said before, there's been a lot of speculation about a lot of things," Loomis said before practice while behind the team's No. 43 hauler. "There always has been in this sport, but what gives me confidence is that we've always had the ability to move forward."
Loomis says the team will be at Talladega next weekend, but he did not say who will be driving the car. Aric Almirola is taking Kahne's place in the No. 9 Ford this weekend.
"Most of the things we've been working on has been our models for 2011 and what our race teams look like moving forward," he said. The team is planning to field two cars in 2011, with AJ Allmendinger staying in the No. 43 and Marcos Ambrose driving the other car.
At lunch with team employees Friday, Loomis said he compared the situation at RPM with being a crew chief, which he was for Jeff Gordon, winning the 2001 championship.
" 'Look, this is no different than running a race when you're a crew chief,' " he said he told them. " 'I've been right here at Martinsville leading a race and all of a sudden hit a pothole and you've got to figure out what to do and how to react to it and move forward.'
"That's what we're looking forward to do with Richard Petty Motorsports."
RPM is co-owned by George Gillett Jr. and seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty. Questions about the team's financial health have followed it for almost two years and Gillett was recently ousted as a co-owner of Premier League soccer club Liverpool.
Loomis said Gillett still owns RPM, and declined to comment on speculation that Petty is trying to round up investors that would allow him more control of the organization.
"There are a lot of people working collectively together to make this thing more successful as we go forward in the future," he said.
Loomis said Petty might make it to the track Sunday, but that he's been spending most of his time with his ailing wife, Lynda.