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Petty team to fold into GEMUPDATE #4 As 2008 comes to an end, so will the Petty Enterprises that NASCAR fans and racers came to admire. Multiple sources have confirmed that after 60 seasons of stock car racing and 10 championships, America's first family of stock car racing will shut its doors and merge with the team currently known as Gillett Evernham Motorsports.
A deal was inked between Petty Enterprises and team owner George Gillett on Christmas Eve, but the terms of that agreement have yet to be divulged. A formal announcement is expected early next week.
The venerable No. 43 Dodge covered with the trademarked Petty blue glaze will become part of the Gillett stable with Reed Sorenson expected to be behind the wheel. Bobby Labonte, who finished 21st in the point standings, parted ways with the Pettys on Dec. 11 following a three-year stint in the No. 43 car.
Most of the remaining 39 employees at Petty Enterprises will conclude their duties at the Mooresville-based shop on Wednesday. The company moved from its original shop adjacent to the Petty homestead in Level Cross, N.C., in January to what was formerly the Yates Racing complex.
Robbie Loomis, Petty Executive VP of Racing Operations, is expected to assume a managerial role under the new partnership, which will likely be rebranded under the Petty banner. Former car chief Ray Fox Jr. will assume a similar role at JTG-Daugherty Racing with the No. 47 team.
David Zucker, who was named CEO of the team when private equity firm Boston Ventures purchased controlling interest in June, is expected to be reassigned to the Petty Driving Experience. Fox Sports
12/10/08 The future of Petty Enterprises could be determined as soon as Thursday morning. The once-great NASCAR organization, which won 268 races and 10 championships before falling on hard times due to a lack of sponsorship, will make an announcement -- most likely regarding driver Bobby Labonte and the team's flagship No. 43 car -- on Thursday.
The Petty franchise has reportedly been in negotiations with Gillett-Evernham Motorsports about a possible merger. Representatives for Petty Enterprises did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment. A GEM spokesman said the team "has no plans to make any announcement" on Thursday.
Speculation about some sort of merger between the Petty and GEM teams has raged since last week, although indications are that any deal would be less of a merger and more GEM absorbing some of the assets of the Petty team.
Although Petty Enterprises has been in business since 1949, the two-car team was left without a full-time primary sponsor after General Mills departed to back a fourth car at Richard Childress Racing. The Petty team last won a race in 1999.
GEM currently fields three cars, those of Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson. Both the GEM and Petty organizations field Dodges.
A merger or absorption by GEM could mean the end of a Petty team that's run under its own name since patriarch Lee Petty founded the organization 60 years ago. In a bid to become more competitive, team owner Richard Petty last year moved the team's headquarters from Level Cross, N.C., to metro Charlotte, and sold majority interest to Boston Ventures, a investment firm. The team has released about 70 employees since the Nov. 18 season finale. nascar.com
12/05/08 Petty Enterprises vice president for racing operations Robbie Loomis said Bobby Labonte is “on track” toward racing the No. 43 Dodge in 2009 amid reports the team will merge with Gillett Evernham Motorsports to form one four-car Sprint Cup operation.
Loomis said the team has been in talks about possible mergers with other Cup teams and that those talks are continuing this week.
But David Zucker, who became chief operating officer of Petty Enterprises when Boston Ventures bought majority ownership of the Petty team earlier this year, said an SI.com report that the Petty shop in Mooresville will close its doors was “not accurate.”
Zucker told the Associated Press he would not comment on “rumors and speculation” about a potential deal with Gillett Evernham.
“I feel very confident in saying that everything is moving forward in our sponsorship drive,” Loomis said. “We are on track for the 43 car, but the second car is up in the air.”
12/04/08 SI.com has learned that Petty Enterprises two-car team will not return in 2009. The sole remaining organization from NASCAR's inaugural Cup season in 1949 will instead merge with fellow Dodge owner George Gillett. The No. 43 car once driven by "King" Richard in all but three of his 200 Sprint Cup victories will be added to the Gillett stable as a fourth car, while the No. 45 car once driven by second- and third-generation drivers Kyle and Adam Petty will cease to exist. Official word of the move is pending and could come as early as this evening.
No word on the future association with Petty Enterprises and Boston Ventures, although a source tells SI.com that Boston Ventures may maintain some involvement in the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Richard Petty's role in the new organization is also unclear, although the alcohol sponsorship of Kasey Kahne's Budweiser team could present a potential hurdle. The Pettys never supported alcohol sponsorship in their organization, refusing to run even the small NASCAR-sponsored decals mandated for every car in the field.
12/04/08 Petty Enterprises is in discussions to merge its storied franchise with Gillett Evernham Motorsports, The Associated Press has learned.
Multiple people familiar with the talks told the AP that the two teams are discussing a deal that would merge Petty’s No. 43 Dodge with GEM to become a four-car operation. They requested anonymity because the negotiations are ongoing. SI.com first reported Thursday that Petty Enterprises’ top operation will not return in 2009. But David Zucker, CEO of Petty Enterprises, said the report was “not accurate.”
He would not discuss a potential merger. “We’re not going to comment on rumors and speculation,” he said.
Petty, the team founded by seven-time series champion Richard Petty, has no full-time sponsorship lined up for next season.
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