Ford investment in Petty team same as it was for Yates Racing

UPDATE Richard Petty expects the Richard Petty Motorsports-Yates Racing merger to be closed in another couple of weeks as the teams rush to get ready for the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Petty, a co-owner of RPM, said on Saturday that the deal is 80 percent done and many of the details need to be hashed out to finalize the terms of the merger, which he characterized as his organization absorbing Yates Racing. The ownership structure, where the team would be housed and exactly how much help it will get from Roush Fenway Racing is still to be determined, Petty said Saturday at Richmond International Raceway.

“The deal is we have agreed to do something," Petty said. “The deal is we sit down now and [start] working out what the particulars are, who is going to do what, who is going to take care of what, how much involvement Yates have, how much we have, how much Ford has, anybody else.

“Those are the particulars. Even though they’ve discussed them, they haven’t put them down on paper."

“The deal with Dodge was not there," Petty said. “And for us to continue and try to have more factory support, Ford was our best alternative. … The Dodge deal was all going to Penske. Dodge was very willing to work with us in pieces, parts, engineering and all of that, but there was no monetary situation there to help us out.

“Yates already had a couple of Ford teams. We get involved with that, and we’ve got a couple of Ford deals and hopefully in the future we can work out more things with Ford."

“It was a logic-based decision," Gillett said. “If you just sit there and look around, a set of pieces fall into place.

“[Ford has] a brand new engine coming out. We know it makes a hell of a lot of horsepower and torque. So logic takes over."

“We think we know, but it’s according to how everything comes down with our partners as far as the sponsor people we have now. They have a lot of input in what you do and how you do it," Petty said. “We’d like to see [Allmendinger] in there, but it probably will be up to what kind of sponsorship we can get for each car. We have the sponsorship. The deal is getting these people to figure out which car they are going to go with."

RPM is expected to use Roush-Yates Engines, but Petty said that the RPM engine shop might not completely close.

“Right now, that’s still an open deal," he said. “They’ve got new engines and stuff, and … I don’t know if there is a possibility we can do some R&D. Those are details that are yet to be worked out."

“Do we get the engines? Do we get the chassis? Are the bodies from Ford Motor Company or Roush or whoever? I don’t know," Petty said. “Those are the things we have to figure out."

Roush Fenway Racing President Geoff Smith said his organization could provide the organization with cars but there have only been very preliminary talks as the Yates-RPM deal is just in the letter-of-intent stage.

“There’s all these details they’ve got to work through, and then as they work through their details, then we’ll end up [finding out] what our role might be," Smith said. “Are we all in with all engines? Are we in with part engines? Part cars? We don’t know."

“One of our concerns is that this don’t disturb what we’ve got going with Dodge for the rest of the year," Petty said. “We’ve got to finish up as good and as strong as we can."

09/12/09 Ford’s investment in Sprint Cup remains the same for 2010 as it did in 2009 even though it will add at least one additional full-time team as a result of the pending Richard Petty Motorsports-Yates Racing merger. Brian Wolfe, Ford’s motorsports director for North America, said initial talks between RPM and Ford began roughly around May of this year. Discussions then increased about seven weeks ago.

Wolfe also said while money can be adjusted depending on the projects the teams need help with, the Richard Petty Motorsports team will pretty much assume the Yates Racing contract with Ford. Yates has had two full-time cars this year and one part-time car, while the new Richard Petty Motorsports will be a four-car team.

The proposed merger allows RPM to use Roush-Yates Engines instead of having its own engine department.

“We never offered any upfront cash," said Brian Wolfe, Ford’s motorsports director for North America. “It was all about the tools and basically the integrity behind the Roush-Yates engine organization. You’re definitely going to have a competitive motor from a power and fuel economy perspective, you’re definitely going to have analytical tools that are as good or better than anybody else’s."

Roush Fenway Racing has to cut from five to four teams for 2010, and Yates Racing only had one full-time sponsor and driver (Paul Menard with his family sponsorship) for next year. The proposed merger gives Ford another four-car team.

“They’ve got some very good drivers, they’ve got some good sponsors, … I expect them to run four very, very strong cars next year," Wolfe said. One of the drivers Ford gets is Kasey Kahne, whom Ford sued in 2004 after Kahne broke his Ford contract for Ray Evernham’s Dodge operation. Kahne eventually won in court with the judge dismissing the case.

“Myself not being around in that, … there may be an individual or two at Ford that maybe had an issue with Kasey, but Ford as a whole didn’t have an issue," Wolfe said. “Kasey is a great young man and a super driver. He’s going to bring a lot to the party for us. … Obviously there were some hurt feelings there. I hope that we can work through those quickly and work together going forward."

Ford plans on using its new drivers and team personnel for its marketing efforts, even though all four drivers – Kahne, Elliott Sadler, AJ Allmendinger – all have contracts that run out after next season. “We use all the driver personalities in that that are currently in Fords,"

Wolfe said about marketing campaigns such as the current “We race, you win" program. “Like any other sport and any other team, sometimes things do change. But my own going into this positions, I wouldn’t want to be so gun shy and say,

‘I’ve got to wait and see and wait a year.’ I’m going to have to assume they’re going to work things out with the drivers and the drivers will become long term."

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