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Sadler Not Returning To Richard Petty Motorsports

[1]Elliott Sadler, driver of the Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 19 Sprint Cup Ford, said he has no plans with the team beyond this season, and that he is open to other options for the 2011 season.

Sadler has been with the team since 2006, back when it was known as Evernham Motorsports. He took over the No. 19 from Jeremy Mayfield. He stayed in that car as the team took on a new majority owner, George Gillett, and then merged to form Richard Petty Motorsports [2]. In 2008, Sadler signed a two-year contract extension [3] with the team.

Early last season, RPM tried to release Sadler [4], but he held them to the contract.

With Sadler’s comments, that leaves RPM with no drivers under contract for 2011. Kasey Kahne is leaving the team [5] to join Hendrick Motorsports. AJ Allmendinger is not currently under contract beyond the end of this season, and he could leave the team. Paul Menard also only has a contract through the end of this season. If he were to leave, he would take his Menards sponsorship with him.

Update: Robbie Loomis, vice president of racing operations at Richard Petty Motorsports said that the team plans to field three or four cars next season, with drivers AJ Allmendinger and Paul Menard. Loomis also indicated that RPM was interested in re-signing Sadler.

Loomis said:

Elliott is among three or four drivers who is on the table we’re looking at. The bottom line is, I always say this, we’re in the performing business and when you’re performing it’s easier for everything. … Elliott is a talented racecar driver. For whatever reason we haven’t been able to put together the finishes we need. There’s been a lot of changes we’ve made over the years, even before I got there. We really felt like putting Todd [Parrott] in there [6] is going to be the real measuring stick with where we’re at with that race team.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that Robbie Loomis may not be with the team next year, as there is a rumor he is headed to Roush Fenway Racing [7].