Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) has made for a lot of talk around the garage as teams start planning for 2013. Quite a few changes have taken place and several more are pending at RPM as the regular season ends and the race organizations - especially those out of the Chase - look forward to next season.
There have been rumors about RPM changing engine programs and even some think King Richard might go to Toyota. I doubt that - and the talk about moving over to Chevrolet seems more probable. According to sources, RPM and Richard Childress Racing (RCR) have been discussing the possibilities of working together like Furniture Row Racing does now (source - Fox Sports). The reasons for looking elsewhere stem from Penske Racing moving over to Ford, which moved RPM down the so-called pecking order.
Supposedly RPM thought about going back to Dodge who they had been with four seasons ago. But when Dodge (or more likely, parent Fiat) decided to leave the sport, that idea was shelved. At first, it didn't look like RPM could move to Chevy because Chevrolet had already set their teams for 2013. But the deal with RCR would give them the opportunity to go with Chevys.
The reason the Tasmanian Devil, Marcos Ambrose hasn't signed yet, has to do in part with Petty's engine program questions. When they get the motor situation worked out, then a contract can be signed. All indications are that Ambrose wants to stay with RPM and RPM wants Ambrose.
After missing the Chase, there might have been questions as to whether Ambrose would or could stay, but sponsorship seems intact - critical to any agreement. The Australian feels he's at the precipice of becoming a championship caliber driver at RPM. Said Ambrose: "I've had such a great time driving for Richard Petty and Stanley and DeWalt and Ford that I don't want it to stop. I've really enjoyed my time with my whole team and there's no reason why we wouldn't want to keep that going." (Source - Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Finally, RPM has swapped entire teams between the #9 driven by Marcos Ambrose and the #43 driven by Aric Almirola. Most of the crew members assigned to the #9, including crew chief Todd Parrott, will now work full-time on the #43. And vice-versa - crew chief Mike Ford and most of the now former #43 team will now be a part of the #9. Pit crew members had already moved on around on both cars prior to these new changes.
Said director of competition Sammy Johns: "We're continuing to make improvements at Richard Petty Motorsports, and we've added talented people to our organization this season. This move is to make sure that we are using that talent to the fullest to get the best results for our teams each weekend. We feel this adjustment will strengthen the organization, allow us to continue to compete for wins and ultimately challenge for championships." (Source - NASCAR)
Ambrose will probably stay but the move to Chevy is up in the air. However, there might be a clue to which way they're leaning. Sammy Johns wrote and sang the song "Chevy Van". Just sayin'.
Sources - NASCAR, Richard Petty Motorsports
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Richard Petty Motorsports
- Marcos Ambrose