In The Tracks...
Richard Gets to Name the New Team
January 20, 2009

On Monday, January 19, 2009, Richard Petty announced to the press that it was a deal breaker that George Gillett said he had no problem with and that was keeping the Petty legacy alive by naming the team Richard Petty Motorsports.

Some of the details of the merger are coming out as along with the announcement of the team name for 2009, the 10 car becomes the 44 car left vacant by Michael Waltrip Motorsports after UPS left his team to join the Roush Fenway number 6 car. David Reutimann will be driving the 00 car in 2009 for Waltrip.

Another detail about the 44 car is that they have officially named AJ Allmendinger as the driver of the car and the plan is to obtain more sponssorship to compete for a full season. At present, there are only 8 races on the schedule. Also, it is official that Reed Sorenson will drive the 43 Dodge sponsored by the U.S. Airforce along with Valvoline. It is unknown at this time how many races the car will feature the U.S. Airforce as the primary sponsor and how many will feature Valvoline as the primary sponsor.

NASCAR's rules prevent more than four cars per team and Richard Petty Motorsports will have the 43 and 44 along with the 9 of Kasey Kahne in the Budweiser Dodge and Elliott Sadler in the 19 Best Buy/Stanley Tools Dodge.

“This begins the next great chapter for the Petty name in NASCAR,” said the team’s namesake and co-owner Richard Petty. “It was very important to us, not only to see the Petty name out on the racetrack, but also to be competitive and get all of our cars back into victory lane and competing for Cup Series championships on a regular basis.”

“To bring the No. 43 and 44 together under the Richard Petty Motorsports banner means a lot to both me and my family,” said Petty. “And then to pair with the No. 9 and 19 and their history really shows the spirit of this partnership. We are bringing two winning organizations together to take a competitive step forward for many years to come.”

"This is a great day for everyone associated with our race team,” said team co-owner George Gillett, whose business interests also include ownership in the legendary Montreal Canadiens in the NHL and the English Premier League’s Liverpool FC soccer team. "To continue Richard Petty’s legacy is without question the most important factor in this relationship. Our goal is to win not one championship as Richard Petty Motorsports, but to win multiple championships."

A couple other items of note with some of the key players involved in the Petty/GEM merger is the status of Ray Evernham who led the way with Dodge to return to NASCAR when he left Hendrick Motorsports and founded Evernham Motorsports. Ray has since sold most of his interests in Evernham Motorsports to Gillett and announced on November 22, 2008 that he planned on buying a dirt track in North Carolina and retiring from the top level of the sport to "get back into grassroots racing" and help younger drivers develop on the dirt tracks. He then did purchase East Lincoln Speedway in North Carolina on December 2. This move of stepping away from GEM gave Gillett full control to allow Richard Petty to take the naming rights of the team.

Because of NASCAR's new rule to limit teams to four cars, this leaves Kyle Petty on the outside looking in and probably headed to Kansas City to work on his second Victory Junction Gang Camp. However, with the move to bring the number 44 back into the Petty hands, it leaves Kyle the ability to use the 45 that he assumed the driving duties of after the loss of his son Adam Petty in a practice crash at New Hamshire in May 2000.

Should Kyle want to obtain a sponsor for the 45 car, he could probably do so and use the name Petty Enterprises, but it is my belief that the move to use the 44 and not 45 was out of respect for the memory of Adam by Richard as Kyle has expressed that he'd be interested in a part time ride such as those that Bill Elliott and Mark Martin decided to do. However, Martin has since taking the wheel of the number 5 Chevy for Hendrick starting in 2009 in what seems to be a one more chance at a championship before Brad Kesselowski takes over that car in 2010.

Kyle is currently focusing on expanding the Victory Junction Gang Camp with a second location in Kansas City, which the current economy has slowed the plans of the Kansas City camp, but they're still planning on moving forward. Also he'sgoing to be doing some Grand AM racing in 2009. That along with his TNT broadcasting in the middle of the season and his weekly show, Tradin' Paint on Speed and whatever other shows he can be involved with on Speed.
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