Richard Petty Motorsports enters partnership to field No. 43 truck
Richard Petty Motorsports is wading into uncharted waters.
The organization co-owned by seven-time Sprint Cup Series champion Richard Petty has joined Empire Racing Group in what it is calling a "driver development partnership" for the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season.
Empire Racing Group will field a truck with the iconic, stylized No. 43 made famous over the years by Petty, a NASCAR Hall of Famer and the sport’s all-time wins leader with 200 victories in what is now the Sprint Cup Series.
The No. 43 truck, which will be driven first by 21-year-old Austin Hill and campaign the colors of Petty’s Garage as its primary sponsor, will debut in Friday night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 Truck Series opener at Daytona International Speedway (FS1, 7 p.m. ET).
A roster of various drivers yet to be named will fill out the remainder of the 2016 schedule.
The team will be led by crew chief Michael Cheek, who 20 years ago was named truck crew chief for Rich Bickle when Bickle drove for the old Petty Enterprises organization that closed its doors in January 2009.
"I am excited to once again partner with Richard Petty and his organization to race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series," Cheek said in a team release. "Together, we have the opportunity to put great drivers in this truck and keep our machine at the front of the field. We have a lot of great things planned for this season, and we’re excited to see where this program will take both race teams."
The No. 43 is being used in the Sprint Cup Series by Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola, and in the XFINITY Series by RPM newcomer Jeb Burton.
With RPM’s newest partnership, the legendary number will now have a presence in all three of NASCAR’s major series.
"This is a great opportunity for Richard Petty Motorsports to develop up-and-coming drivers who will become the future of our sport," said Brian Moffitt, RPM’s chief executive officer. "It will be great to see the No. 43 return to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and to have Petty’s Garage as the primary sponsor of the race at Daytona. The 2016 season is sure to produce great results for both Richard Petty Motorsports and Empire Racing Group."