Saturday, November 6, 2010
RPM still running; 2-car team in 2011?
By David Newton
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Richard Petty Motorsports has the financial backing to finish the season and is working toward running a two-car Sprint Cup car operation in 2011, vice president of competition of Robbie Loomis said on Saturday.
"It's been amazing to me, the support from owners and drivers who have come up and been able to help keep us going ... past crew chiefs," Loomis said after the final Cup practice at Texas Motor Speedway leading up to Sunday's race.
"People have really been supportive of helping us continue along and get to a better place."
Among those helping RPM is former team owner and crew chief Ray Evernham, who still has a minority ownership stake in the team after selling what was then Evernham Motorsports to George Gillett in 2007.
Gillett later merged with Petty Enterprises to form Richard Petty Motorsports. Gillett's recent financial difficulties surrounding the sale of the Liverpool soccer club left the racing team so strapped for money that two weeks ago there were questions of whether RPM could pay the bills necessary to finishing the season.
Since then minority owner Richard Petty has been looking for investors to retake majority ownership from Gillett and keep the team afloat through the final race of this season.
Loomis said the latter no longer is an issue.
"Every car owner, every manufacturer has been behind us," he said. "Ford has been incredible in their ability to keep us healthy. Jack Roush and what his crowd has done has been amazing. For Richard it has been very rewarding to see everybody supporting us the way they have."
Roush Fenway Racing supplies cars for RPM and Roush Yates Engines supplies engines. Roush said two weeks ago at Martinsville that RPM was up to date on its bills, but added there was at least one payment to be made before the season ended.
"It's been a work in progress," Loomis said.
Loomis heaped praise on RPM and the collective effort of the organization to maintain performance. RPM reaped the rewards on Friday when Elliott Sadler, who will move down to the Nationwide Series for Kevin Harvick Inc. next season, won the pole for Sunday's Cup race.
"It's a tribute to the guys, just keeping their heads down and working," Loomis said. "And the drivers, too. Elliott has been through a lot of ups and downs. He's really dug in and put his head down this year and done a great job, not only in our car but when he won the Trucks race at Pocono."
Loomis said RPM is undecided with which crew members from the No. 19 team of Sadler and No. 98 team of Paul Menard will be retained.
"We've definitely got some plans," he said. "The roster is already put together. ... Everyone knows we're a four-car team and working on laying out our plans to get to two cars. We've had a lot of talk about running a third car for the first five races with other interests. We've got the points for it."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.