Petty gets No. 44; Allmendinger to drive

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- AJ Allmendinger is close to reaching a multi-year deal to drive the No. 44 for Richard Petty Motorsports, CEO Tom Reddin said on Monday.

The No. 44 will replace the No. 10 as the fourth car at Richard Petty Motorsports, or RPM -- the new Sprint Cup organization formed by the merger between Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Petty Enterprises.

The two race teams agreed to merge earlier this month in a
partnership that keeps the sponsor-strapped Pettys in racing.

Allmendinger is slated to drive the first five races and at least seven overall once the deal is reached. Reddin said the organization continues to seek sponsorship to keep Allmendinger in the car full time, if not this year, then in 2010.

"We're very, very close," Reddin said. "I think we'll have something to announce in short order. We would love to have A.J. to be running a full-time fourth car for us.

"He's a great, great guy, a great driver, and a good guy, too. He's confident but humble.'"

The Pettys reclaimed the No. 44 from Michael Waltrip Racing after this past season.

The 44 was driven by Kyle Petty until he switched to the No. 45 in 2000 in memory of his son, Adam, who was killed driving that number during a Nationwide Series practice session.

The No. 44 was used sparingly by the Pettys from 2000 to 2003, and then was transferred to MWR in 2007 for Dale Jarrett.

Reed Sorenson will drive the famed No. 43 Dodge for RPM this season.

The 44 will inherit the points from the No. 10 car at GEM. It moved to RPM along with the No. 43.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.