By admin | November 12, 2009
By Richard Allen
In 1969 Richard Petty drove a Ford to ten victories on the NASCAR circuit. That was the only season in which ‘The King’ campaigned with a blue oval on the front of his car.
Now, the organization that carries his name is in the process of switching from Dodge to Ford. And in the earliest of stages in regard to that change, the results look promising.
RPM driver Elliott Sadler drove a Ford from the Yates Racing stable to a 9th place finish in Talladega. And to follow that, A.J. Allmendinger took an RPM prepared Ford to a 10th place finish in Texas.
Allmendinger will continue to drive Fords for the remaining two races of 2009 in preparation for the entire organization switching brands in 2010. His Texas finish had to be particularly encouraging for RPM because it took place on a 1.5 mile track the likes of which make up such a large portion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule.
Also, that finish was one of only five top-10s for Allmendinger this season. Considering he began the season with a 3rd place finish in the season opening Daytona 500, the lack of top finishes has no doubt been a disappointment after such a promising start. Perhaps the change in manufacturer will provide the impetus for improved performance going forward.
For Sadler, his Talladega finish was only his fifth top-10 of 2009. Like Allmendinger, this one start in a Ford has accounted for 20% of his total top-10 results.
Granted, there is little difference among the different brands of cars competing in NASCAR. Outside the engine compartment, about the only way to distinguish one make from another is the sticker on the front of the car where the grill is supposed to be. But, that change inside the engine compartment might have provided something the RPM cars did not already have.
This organization is in desperate need of something positive happening. Over the past few days they have been in the news for layoffs and seeming instability. Perhaps the change in manufacturers has re-fired the remaining staff. Both of these runs ought to provide a positive mindset going into what promises to be a busy and important off-season for RPM.
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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