By admin | March 31, 2009
By Richard Allen
Richard Petty Motorsports has experienced a fair amount of success this season. Although they have not found their way to victory lane, they have accomplished the feat of placing all four of their cars inside the all important Top 35 of the Sprint Cup owner’s standings.
For the second time this season A.J. Allmendinger led the RPM charge with a Top 10 finish. At Martinsville in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 he drove to a strong 9th place finish.
On another occasion, a very big occasion, Allmendinger led the way for RPM by finishing 3rd in the Daytona 500.
For the most part, Allmendinger has been a solid runner for RPM. He has four finishes inside the Top 20 and only two outside the Top 20. He now sits in what may be considered a somewhat surprising 15th of the Sprint Cup standings.
At first, RPM was only committed to eight races for Allmendinger and the #44 Dodge due to a lack of sponsorship. They have since added a few more.
The question for this driver and this organization is, what will happen if additional funding is not found for the #44? It is highly unlikely the team will continue to field this ride without the necessary funding. George Gillett, the organization’s primary owner, has at least some degree of financial difficulty. Rumor spread last week that he was considering the sale of his NHL team and possibly even his Premier League soccer club.
So, if no more sponsorship can be found do they just let Allmendinger go? Two of RPM’s drivers, Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson, are not doing as well as ‘dinger’.
Sadler is 24th in points with one Top 5. But, to be fair, he would have won the Daytona 500 had the final caution for rain flew a half lap earlier. To complicate matters with Sadler, there was the issue of his off season firing/not firing in which legal action was apparently threatened.
Sorenson is in a more precarious position in that he is 30th in the standings with one Top 10. With the looming threat of the famed #43 dropping out of the Top 35 would RPM make the move to replace Sorenson with Allmendinger?
There is no way to know what the future holds but one thing is for sure. A.J. Allmendinger is proving to people that he can drive a Sprint Cup car.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
*Click on the link below to watch my animated short film, “Racing Re-Cap: Martinsville”. It is meant for a laugh so I hope you find some humor in it.
The characters do not represent any real people.
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