Richard Petty Motorsports will field all four of its cars at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend, a team spokesman confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
The team’s presence at the Amp Energy Juice 500 this weekend was in question as employees were told last week that their jobs weren’t guaranteed through the end of the year and that last week’s race at Martinsville might be their last.
Team co-owner Richard Petty, whom the SportsBusiness Journal said owns just 4 percent of the team, is working to take over control of the organization from George Gillett, according to sources familiar with the situation. Gillett, who had taken a $90 million loan to purchase the team from Ray Evernham in 2007 and then merged the organization with Petty Enterprises and Yates Racing in the last two years, has a majority ownership in the organization. Ray Evernham and Boston Ventures also have a minority interest.
The team’s financial problems reached a crisis point last week, a week after Gillett was forced to sell the Liverpool soccer team he co-owned with Tom Hicks. Gillett and Hicks objected to the sale, which did not cover their investment in the team.
For the last month, RPM has enlisted the help of consulting firms to try to find investors for the team, according to the SBJ. Earlier this year, Gillett had to restructure a $90 million loan he used to purchase the team.
Earlier this week, Gillett’s Booth Creek Resort Properties sold its Northstar-At-Tahoe resort in California for $63 million. It is unclear if that sale, the talks of which were initiated prior to the Liverpool controversy, would have an impact on any of the race team finances.
Even if the race team stays solvent, layoffs are expected soon as RPM will cut from four cars to two teams for 2011.
Paul Menard, scheduled to go to Richard Childress Racing in 2011, is expected to finish out the season with RPM but his team won’t be back next year. The No. 19 team, currently driven by Elliott Sadler, won’t be back in 2011 as well.
That leaves the No. 43 team with driver AJ Allmendinger and the No. 9 car, which is being driven by Aric Almirola after the release of Kasey Kahne last week. The No. 9 is set to be driven by JTG Daugherty Racing driver Marcos Ambrose in 2011.
RPM has signed Stanley Tools and Valvoline to sponsorship deals for next year and Allmendinger sponsor Best Buy is considering remaining with the No. 43. Whether the sponsors remain obligated to stick with the organization if there is an ownership change remains to be seen.
One potential deal being discussed, according to sources, would involve the No. 43 team moving to Michael Waltrip Racing if RPM should shut down. Toyota, however, already supports MWR’s two teams, Joe Gibbs Racing and Red Bull Racing and is not in a position to add more teams.
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