It’s a sixteen hour drive from Texas Motor Speedway, the site of last week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, to Phoenix International Raceway, the site of this week’s race. NASCAR Sprint Cup teams have to sign in to the track by 5:45 am Friday morning to race, as required by NASCAR.
Richard Petty Motorsports is cutting that deadline very closely this week. As rumors of the teams financial troubles continue, Petty Haulers remained empty and parked in Texas until late Wednesday afternoon. Parked alongside was an unmarked hauler from Roush-Fenway Racing containing the eight cars that Richard Petty Motorsports planned on running in Phoenix.
“The plan was to take RPM’s Phoenix cars to Texas and hold them there until the check cleared,” said a source close to the situation, speaking on the condition on anonymity. “The money was supposed to be there Monday, but that didn’t happen. It didn’t happen again yesterday, and everyone’s still there today, on hold…” reported SiriusSpeedway.com.
Richard Petty Motorsports experienced a similar situation prior to the Texas race as their haulers were held up waiting for their cars until late Wednesday prior to the AAA Texas 500. The situation is said to be caused by RPM majority owner George Gillette’s financial woes following the takeover of his Liverpool Football Club. Ironically, Gillette came into NASCAR at a time when smaller teams were searching for financial partners to be able to compete with the larger four and five car teams.
While many were unsure if Richard Petty Motorsports would race at Phoenix this weekend, Paul Menard, driver of the #98 Ford for RPM had alternate plans. Leaving to race for Richard Childress Racing in 2011, Menard was set up to run a car from the brand new Stavola Labonte Racing organization. Stavola Labonte races Chevy’s and has a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing.
Richard Petty, minority owner of the team that bears his name, still searches for financial partners to help him regain majority ownership of the sinking organization. FOXSports.com reported this week that Petty is in talks with Andrew Murstein, President of Medallion Financial Group. Medallion Financial Corp. is comprised of a unique combination of businesses. The Company holds a leading position in the origination and servicing of loans to finance the purchase of taxicab medallions.
RPM haulers finally took delivery of the Phoenix Sprint Cup cars after 3pm on Wednesday afternoon. Hauler drivers left the Texas track for Phoenix shortly after 5pm. Truck drivers are allowed ten hour driving shifts and then must rest for a pre-determined period of time before they can drive again. Though sources have said Richard Petty Motorsports has more than one driver in each truck so they can drive in shifts, they will arrive at Phoenix International Raceway with little time to spare.