Richard Petty Motorsports officials have squashed recent rumors that Kasey Kahne could switch to Toyota before the season’s end due to the financial troubles of Chrysler. Team officials said that no decision would be made this season. RPM owner Richard Petty said that the team would, however, consider “all options” as to what automaker it would partner with in the future.
I do know that we’re looking at all options. We’ve been with Dodge all these years, and we don’t really know where they’re at. We’re talking to Dodge; we’re talking to anybody that wants to talk. Right now, we’re in the process of trying to come up with what we think is going to be best for Richard Petty Motorsports, not only in the near future, but in the future way on out there.
Chrysler has been in financial trouble for quite some time. Dodge pulled its support from the Camping World Truck Series last year, and they have put their Sprint Cup support on hold while they reorganize. Chrysler only recently emerged from bankruptcy, after forming an alliance with Italian automaker Fiat.
RPM is said to only have enough parts to field one Dodge engine, despite the fact that the team currently fields four Dodges: the No. 9, the No. 19, the No. 43, and the No. 44. Even if that is not true, I would imagine that it would be difficult to remain competitive with Dodge considering how far behind they were without dealing with a lack of factory support.
Petty Enterprises virtually fell off the NASCAR map in recent years. The team last won in 1999 at Martinsville, with driver John Andretti behind the wheel of the No. 43. Since then, the team has only posted a handful of top 5s, and was hardly considered a contender.
At the end of last year, the team merged with Gillett Evernham Motorsports to form RPM. The merger paired the famous Petty name with a team capable of winning, and it resulted in last weekend’s victory in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway.
Now that Richard Petty found himself back in Victory Lane, he may make sure he does whatever he can to get back there. I think that when you haven’t won a race in years, you forget how good it feels. If you’re fortunate enough to get back there, and get a taste, you become hungrier. You realize what you’ve been missing, and that makes you want it more.
I think that might push RPM and The King to be more open to a new manufacturing that gives them the best chance to get back there. I’m not willing to say Toyota is the answer, but I’m sure Petty has seen what Toyota did for Joe Gibbs Racing, and to a lesser extend Michael Waltrip Racing. So, they have to, at the very least, be in the discussion.