Sorenson, McMurray big losers in Petty-Yates merger
One year after Gillett Evernham Racing and Petty Enterprises became one unit called Richard Petty Motorsports, economic uncertainty has led to another union … this time RPM joining forces with Yates Racing, maintaining the RPM name and absorbing the #98 team and driver Paul Menard.
So your 2010 RPM/Yates lineup will likely be: Kasey Kahne in the #9, Elliott Sadler in the #19, A.J. Allmendinger in the #43 (this number must stay for obvious reasons), and Menard in the #98. There is also talk the historic #28 may be resurrected and given to Sadler instead of the #19.
The biggest losers in all of this are a couple of drivers.
First there is Reed Sorenson, but it’s not exactly news because he already knew he was out of a ride. Look for him in Nationwide next year, as I don’t see him landing anywhere in Cup. He has yet to prove he can succeed at the top level, and needs some more polishing. In Nationwide, he can shine. In Cup, he is the definition of average.
Then there is Jamie McMurray, who is finishing out the year at Roush, but doesn’t yet have a 2010 ride. One option was to farm him out to Yates for the year if sponsorship could be arranged, but that option is gone so his choices are very limited. His best option now would be to get the #1 car, but that’s not a guarantee because Earnhardt Ganassi Racing could decide to stay with someone they know and put Aric Almirola in that car. Beyond the #1 car, there are just no rides left worth driving, unless he wants to start-and-park.
While Yates hasn’t been competitive in recent years, RPM does gain from this union the long-touted horsepower that comes from Yates engines. RPM struggled mightily this year with the Dodge engines, and should have more reliability in that department now.
For those who know the history of this sport, this union marks the end of an era – the demise of the once-great Robert Yates Racing. The team won a title with Dale Jarrett, and could have won titles with Davey Allison had he not died so tragically in 1993. Through the 1990s and early 2000s, the team helped provide some of the great moments in NASCAR history, and has endured more tragedy and triumph (Allison’s death, Ernie Irvan’s near death and subsequent comeback) than many teams in the sport. While not unexpected, it’s kind of sad to see it lose its own identity.