By admin | June 1, 2009
By Richard Allen
The start of the 2009 season offered the hope of a bright future for Richard Petty Motorsports. In the season opening Daytona 500 three of the team’s entries scored Top 10 finishes. Since then, however, the skies have darkened for this organization. The company’s four cars have only managed five Top 10s between them over the last twelve races.
This past weekend’s Autism Speaks 400 in Dover, Delaware again offered reason for optimism at the RPM shops.
The good news started on Friday during time trials when all four RPM cars qualified in the Top 10.
Kasey Kahne started 2nd and finished 6th. The #9 team provided the most reason for optimism. They were using the new Dodge engine for the first time in 2009. Penske Racing South has used the engine throughout the season.
Kahne’s initial reaction toward the new power plant was favorable. His run in this race shows that the organization at least has the chance to improve performance in the coming weeks.
Reed Sorenson also added to the hope for the future. He finished 19th, which is not so impressive. However, he qualified 4th even though he was not using the new engine. He also led four laps which were the first laps he had led all season.
This once highly touted young driver has failed to live up to the promise he once showed in the Nationwide(Busch) Series. Perhaps his run in Dover can get he and his team pointed in the right direction for the rest of 2009.
Elliott Sadler and A.J. Allmendinger, who each looked very strong in the Daytona 500, finished 27th and 29th respectively in Dover. Like their teammates, these two drivers began the day in the Top 10. Neither the #19 nor the #44 car had the new Dodge engine.
In looking at the final results of the Autism Speaks 400 it would not seem as though Richard Petty Motorsports would have any reason for enthusiasm, but a deeper look reveals that at least there were some positives to come out of the past weekend.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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