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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Richard Petty's not going anywhere... and that's a good thing

When you think of NASCAR, you think of the Petty family.

Richard’s father Lee Petty was there when the series started in the late 1940s, and a Petty team has been involved ever since then.

There have been good times – such as Lee’s three titles and Richard’s seven titles, and Kyle’s competitive years in the 1990s – and there have been down times, such as the final years of Petty Enterprises and the recent struggles of the in-name-only Richard Petty Motorsports, but the Petty name has always been there on Sunday in some form.

That’s why I was very happy to hear that Richard Petty and a group of investors have teamed to take over the flailing RPM team, which barely finished out the season amid monetary woes of the real owner, George Gillett.

Now, instead of being a figurehead just being used for his name, he will be one of the key people behind a leaner, meaner team that I hope can make some noise in the 2011 season.

To start with, they have two talented drivers. A.J. Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose have shown flashes of greatness in the past few years, and I would hope that with the RPM team pared down to two drivers, they can get the proper sponsorship needed to lead an effort that is somewhat competitive.

That’s all a big question mark, and I don’t expect miracles, but I am very happy to see Petty take on the effort of leading a team once again. With all the financial struggles around the RPM team in 2010, many people would have just folded, let the team crumble and go about retirement.

But this is Richard Petty. He doesn’t know anything else but NASCAR. It’s where he grew up, and it’s where he’ll be as long as he shall live.

And that’s a good thing for NASCAR and all its fans.

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