As of 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, the four Richard Petty Motorsports haulers were still in the infield of Texas Motor Speedway, but a team representative said the team plans to leave for Phoenix International Raceway later today and finish the season.
But the fate of the team remains very much up in the air. Minority stakeholder Richard Petty is trying to line up investors to take control of the financially strapped outfit, but so far has been unable to come up with a firm deal. Former majority owner George Gillett has defaulted on $90 million in loans he used to purchase the team, which is now in the hands of Gillett’s lenders.
Contacted by phone Wednesday morning, team spokesperson Tiffany Breaux said RPM would be at Phoenix. “I don’t know what the exact schedule is, but the haulers are leaving (Texas Motor Speedway) today,” said Breaux. “ ... The plan is to go to Phoenix and finish the season.”
But a source said Roush Fenway Racing, which builds the cars RPM races, could repossess the RPM fleet today. Roush Fenway is owed millions of dollars by RPM and last month, briefly took back RPM’s Talladega cars, before releasing them a day later.
RPM has been the subject of much scrutiny since prior to the race last month at Martinsville Speedway, when Kasey Kahne abruptly departed the team and employees were told that there might not be enough money to finish the season. RPM owes millions of dollars in debts incurred during the three years of ownership under the Gillett family.
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.