Richard Petty: Sponsors leery of Kurt Busch
Richard Petty cited sponsors weary of Kurt Busch’s personality as the reason the 2004 champion wasn’t offered the opportunity to drive the famed No. 43.
“Nobody at the time wanted to pay the bill for him,” Petty said Thursday. “That’s just how simple it was.”
The seat became available when AJ Allmendinger left Richard Petty Motorsports to take over the ride Busch vacated when he and Penske Racing decided to part ways in December. At the time, the 43 car was without a sponsor, which led to RPM releasing Allmendinger from his contract.
“This [was] going to help us because we get out from under our obligation to AJ,” Petty explained. “AJ’s got a good ride, and Penkse winds up with a good driver.”
RPM was already in talks with Smithfield Foods as a potential sponsor of the 43. Petty said they floated the idea of putting Busch in the seat, but sponsors balked.
“Everybody’s got to protect their brand,” Petty explained. “Smithfield’s got a pretty laid-back, pretty down-home personality. If they’d taken him on – they just didn’t like the personality.
“About everybody we’ve talked to [said],’Ahhh, maybe six months or a year, but right now he’s on the front burner. If [you] put him back on the back burner, yeah, we might sit down and talk to you about it.’ ”
When asked if Busch would be a possibility down the road, Petty said, “In the future, yeah. You don’t ever know.”
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