NASCAR: In Which Direction Is Richard Petty Motorsports Headed?

Aug 27, 2016; Brooklyn, MI, USA; NASCAR team owner Richard Petty walks through the garage during practice for the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week it was announced that Richard Petty Motorsports will not be fielding two cars in Sprint Cup next year. The reducing of the team’s involvement in the series shows the hard times this organisation is going through, but it will help them regroup and start over again.

In the last couple of seasons the Richard Petty Motorsports cars have struggled mightily. Their last win at the top-level of NASCAR dates back to the 2014 Coke Zero 400 with Aric Almirola. It was quite a lucky win, with most of the field taken out by the Big One and then the rain stopping the race, but it was still a very important win. Almirola qualified into the Chase thanks to that victory and his teammate Marcos Ambrose was delivering solid results too.

But at the end of that season the Aussie went back to V8 Supercars racing in his country. Since then the #9 team has never performed the way it did with Ambrose: Sam Hornish Jr was 26th in the 2015 point-standings, and Brian Scott in the #44 was all the way back in 31st after this season. Even Michael McDowell who ran just 31 of the 36 races ended up in front of him. Pretty bad results. For what concerns Almirola and the #43 team, they fared better than their teammate but still not as good as they did in their all-time-high campaign of 2014: 17th in 2015 after another good season but only 26th this year.

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With things just getting worse and worse, the unexpected announcement that Brian Scott made at the end of this season might just have been what the organisation needed. Scott shocked the NASCAR community by deciding to retire after just his rookie season. It was a decision that nobody expected, but it provided the organisation with the possibility to dictate the future of their second team. After some time, they finally made clear earlier this week that they will not field a second car next year. The charter for the #44 car was leased to Go FAS Racing only for the next season, then they will have to decide what to do with it.

Their plan looks to be the one of the restarting all over again. They will focus only on the #43 team, at least for the next season. All their effort will be put into giving Almirola the best possible equipment to get the best possible results. A way simpler situation than having two parallel teams to take care of. They can always switch back to two cars in 2018 if they are happy with their 2017 performance. Otherwise they could still sell the #44 charter and stay a one-car organisation.

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After witnessing the difficult moments that RPM has gone through in the last years, this looks to be the right move. It’s useless to have two teams when you can’t afford providing any of the two with good equipment. It’s way smarter to be humble, focus on just one car instead and from there try to get back to the glory of the old days.

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