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Richard Petty Motorsports’ future: Stay with Ford or potential move to Toyota, Chevy or Dodge?

Jun 7, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT

(AP Photo/Terry Renna) AP

Like a wheel of fortune, around and around and around it goes, and where Richard Petty Motorsports winds up at, still nobody knows.

Although some recent reports claim RPM will shift from Ford to Toyota for 2015, RPM vice president of competition Sammy Johns told MRN.com’s Dustin Long on Saturday that there has been no movement or decision on which manufacturer the organization will align itself with.

RPM has been with Ford since the last three races of the 2009 season, switching to the so-called blue oval after nearly two seasons with Dodge.

According to reports last month, team patriarch Richard Petty has had recent meetings with representatives of both Toyota and Ford.

Ford Racing director Jamie Allison said RPM’s contract with the manufacturer does not expire after this season, contrary to what other reports and rumors have indicated.

Conspicuous by its absence in reports and rumors about RPM’s future is a lack of discussion about a potential partnership with Chevrolet.

While RPM would likely have significant resources at its disposal if it affiliated with Chevrolet – perhaps more so than it currently has with Ford – if the legendary team indeed does leave Ford, it would most likely be headed to Toyota, if reports and rumors are to be believed.

As wild as some of the rumors and reports about RPM’s future have been, it would not be completely out of the realm of possibility that RPM may stay with Ford through 2015 and then potentially spearhead a possible return to Sprint Cup by Dodge. During its last round of negotiations with Ford back in 2012, Petty said at the time he would not rule out a return to Dodge.

Of course, that depends on if Dodge wants to get back into NASCAR, a possibility company officials have had little to say about of late.

The last time RPM’s contract came up for renewal with Ford, it was subsequently left without much of a choice but to remain with Ford when Dodge announced it would leave NASCAR at the end of that season, ironically enough right after Brad Keselowski and Team Penske won the championship in a Dodge Charger.

Also weighing heavy on the minds of the RPM braintrust is whether driver Marcos Ambrose will stay with the team or leave when his current contract expires at the end of this season.

There have been several reports that Ambrose is considering returning to his native Australia and to race on the increasingly popular V8 Supercars series, with some reports having Ambrose racing for a new team potentially to be owned by legendary IndyCar and NASCAR team owner Roger Penske.

However, Ambrose recently denied those rumors and insisted he wants to remain with RPM, an organization that is on the upswing.

During January’s annual preseason NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte, Petty questioned whether Ambrose indeed would return for 2015.

“I don’t know how much longer he wants to stay in the U.S.,” Petty said candidly at the time. “You know, (Ambrose has) come a long way. He’s sort of a hero in Australia just because he’s running Cup. His big deal is if he could win on a round and around racetrack, that would be the optimum for him. If he did do that, he’d probably just go home and say, ‘Thank you guys,’ but I don’t know.”

All reports and rumors aside, the Sprint Cup Series races next weekend in the backyard of the Big Three manufacturers, namely, Michigan International Speedway.

If RPM is to make any announcement, particularly if it will stay with Ford or not, or whether it will jump to Toyota, Chevy or even Dodge, MIS would be a perfect venue to do so.

On another topic, Johns told MRN.com that RPM is looking for sponsorship for up-and-coming driver Corey LaJoie, son of former NASCAR driver Randy LaJoie.

The younger LaJoie won the ARCA race at Pocono last year, but was not in the field for Saturday’s race there.

Johns said the team hopes to have LaJoie do some Sprint Cup testing soon.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

  1. barrylibby - Jun 7, 2014 at 10:15 PM

    Well the King better make a deciesn so he can race Danica!

  2. charger383 - Jun 8, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    Love to see 43 back on Dodge, but 43 on a toytoa and I am done with NASCAR

  3. techmeister1 - Jun 8, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    It was a sad, sad day when Chrysler failed to re-sign Petty Enterprises many years ago. I know all about the financial issues and such but I also know that many people are so brand loyal that Plymouth/Dodge have likely lost a hundred times the financial support they would have paid Petty to stay in a Plymouth or Dodge. The bean counters don’t get it so they cut whatever seems easiest and of the least value because they don’t understand the true value.

    If Dodge decides to come back to CRASHCAR and I sort of doubt that they will now that Dodge is just a name plate revenue stream for Fiat, using an Alfa chassis with a Dodge shell on it, aka Dodge Dart, they had better be committed for the long term or not bother. They look completely incompetent and uncaring when they fail to provide the technical support that all CRASHCAR teams require to be competitive. If you’re not in the game to win, you’re not committed and don’t belong in professional racing as a manufacturer, IMO.

    Toyota didn’t come in with the idea of just using CRASHCAR as a marketing tool, they came to win to get the maximum marketing value from their investment and to illustrate how good their engineering capabilities are. Who is theIr right mind would have ever expected Toyota to take on the Big Three in CRASHCAR and actually win? But they have done just that because they are dedicated and committed. Just showing up with a half-hearted effort would not be good for Dodge at all, IMO. It would make them look as dumb as the Danica haters and that is really, really dumb.

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