By Jerry Jordan, Editor
INDIANAPOLIS – Although nothing official has been announced, Richard Petty confirmed to Kickin’ the Tires that his operation – Richard Petty Motorsports – would be joining the Chevrolet camp and forming an alliance with Richard Childress Racing (RCR).
Petty confirmed the change in an exclusive interview with Kickin’ the Tires at the PRI Show but news of the alliance was first reported by Adam Stern at the Sports Business Journal. Petty said he is looking forward to 2018, a new driver and the new partnership.
“We are in the process of moving from where we are now to closer to home, over in Lexington from Mooresville,” Petty said. “We are off in the corner up at RCR. When you first come in you go by the museum and we’ve got the first building up there, so … we’re on the campus but we’re really not on the campus. We are on the corner of the campus. I guess he (Richard Childress) done that so he could kick us out if we get to causing too much trouble up there.”
Still playing his cards close to his vest, Petty was slow to give up whether his team was just forming an alliance or actually switching to Chevrolet. He finally relented and confirmed what most suspected.
“We’re switching to something,” Petty said, when pressed on the impending change to Chevrolet. “Yeah, yeah, you know, It’s a pretty foregone conclusion what is going on, right now.
“We’ll probably be working off of him (Childress), sort of, like we did off of Roush with Ford,”
Petty also cleared up rumors that it had sold it’s prestigious NASCAR charter for the No. 43 car. He said neither of his charters had been sold but he is leasing out NASCAR’s No. 1 charter to Rick Ware Racing. The team is using the charter tied to the No. 44 car on the No. 43 car in 2018. The explanation, he said, was with the way NASCAR allotted charters for each individual car owner.
When the charter system was implemented, NASCAR gave the No. 1 charter to Petty for the No. 43 car and the No. 2 charter was given to the team owner and assigned to the second oldest car number and so on. The easiest way to explain it, he said, was that each charter number is assigned based on how long the owner had run the car in the series.
“We’re leasing it,” Petty said. “We leased one last year and you can’t lease it for two years in a row, so we just changed it. The 44 (charter) was leased last year and the 43 will be leased this year. We will run the 43 car under the 44 charter. It’s all screwed up, politics I guess.”
“I think that is what they done, say, ‘who’s been here the longest’ and that way they couldn’t get into an argument with somebody that came in last year or the last two or three years and gets the No. 1 deal or the No. 10. They don’t what they thought was the most fair and I thing everybody accepted it that way.”
Petty said having a new shop, new driver and new relationships should help Richard Petty Motorsports in 2018 and he is ready to get things going.
“We are just doing a lot of new stuff,” he said. “New car, new driver, new place to work on it. What we have been doing in the past has been up and down and up and down but we never really got settled on what we think we need. So, we said let’s just change everything. So, from that standpoint it is going to be a new RPM operation, so it is going to be interesting from that standpoint, too.”
Petty said he is excited to have Darrell ‘Bubba’ Wallace behind the wheel of the No. 43 and Smithfield will be represented on the car in some capacity in 2018 for six races but the Smithfield name may not actually be on the car.
An attempt to obtain a comment from Chevrolet was unsuccessful at the time of publication. If more information is made available, this article will be updated.