Now that the sale of Richard Petty Motorsports to a new ownership group has been completed, the top priority for the team is to find enough sponsorship to support two cars for 2011.
One of the team’s previous sponsors, big box electronics retailer Best Buy, could return to the No. 43 RPM Ford driven by AJ Allmendinger, according to a team source. Best Buy “returning in 2011 with AJ and RPM is still a strong possibility,” the source told SPEED.com, adding the sponsor and team hoped to make an announcement in the near future.
If Best Buy does return, it’s unclear for how many races the sponsor would be with the team.
In 2010, RPM campaigned four cars, but will downsize to just two next season, the No. 43 Ford for Allmendinger and the No. 9 for new teammate Marcos Ambrose, who is moving over to the team from JTG-Daugherty Racing.
The team used an assortment of sponsors during 2010, including Best Buy, Insignia, Stanley, Valvoline, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the U.S. Air Force. The new ownership group, which consists of investment firms Medallion Financial Corp. and DGB Investments as well as Richard Petty himself, is working to confirm 2011 sponsorships for the two cars.
Allmendinger had a strong 2010 season, despite the turmoil surrounding the team. He ended the year a career-best 19th in points, best of any of the team’s four drivers. Although he is still looking for his first race victory, it’s clear that Allmendinger is one of the sport’s rising young talents.
The Los Gatos, Calif., native finished 12th or better in five of the final 10 races of the season, including an excellent fifth-place run in the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Considering the team didn’t even know if it would have the money to finish the season, that was an impressive run.
The sale of RPM and its downsizing from four cars to two has resulted in layoffs at both that team and Roush Fenway Racing, which builds the Ford Fusions that RPM races. According to a report in the Charlotte Business Journal on Nov. 22, RPM filed notice with the state of North Carolina that it had laid off 75 employees.
And according to this report at FOXSports.com http://msn.foxsports.com/nascar/story/Roush-Fenway-Racing-makes-cuts-will-run-three-NASCAR-Nationwide-Series-teams-120310 Roush Fenway Racing is cutting 60 jobs, in part because it is building fewer cars for RPM and in part because the Roush outfit will campaign only three NASCAR Nationwide Series cars, down from four in 2010.
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.