Richard Petty hoped Marcos Ambrose’s victory last Sunday at Watkins Glen International would put Ford Racing in a good mood – good enough to re-sign his race team for 2013.
While the victory certainly couldn’t have come at a better time, Ford apparently was a little disappointed Petty considered a move to Dodge next year and no deal was struck.
“I had my contract in my pocket and I was going to let them sign it right there,” Petty said. “I don’t think it went over too good.”
Ford doesn’t have to be in a hurry to bring Richard Petty Motorsports back into the fold. It already has three top-level cars at Roush Fenway Racing and will add two more cars from Penske Racing next year. Even if Petty can stay in the Ford lineup, he knows his two teams – with Ambrose and Aric Almirola as drivers – will fall a little lower on the pecking order.
“We’ve got to finish up this year with Ford,” Petty said. “We’ve got a contract with them. When the Penske deal came about, then we were kind of shuffled around a little bit with Ford. I don’t think we’re shuffled out, but we’re kind of shuffled around, so we’re just going to have to renegotiate our contract with Ford is, I guess, the way it’s going to be.”
Dodge’s departure from NASCAR left a bigger void on the sport than Penske’s two race teams. It shrunk the pool of manufacturers to three – Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota. Dodge got a lot of offers from other teams, but none of them seemed capable of taking Dodge to a championship, Dodge’s president and CEO of Street Racing Technology Brand and Motorsports said.
“It was all of the above,” Ralph Gilles said. “Everything from the driver selection, the teams, the shops, the engines, you name it. It’s a very, very, very complex situation, so we’ll just leave it at that.”
Richard Petty Motorsports was one of the highest-profile teams looking at Dodge, but it yet has developed into a top-level team.
Other teams reportedly looking into Dodge were: Furniture Row Motorsports with driver Regan Smith and a new team being considered by Indy-Car owner Michael Andretti.
After working for months to sign a contender, Gilles said his company had no choice but to fold.
“We worked night and day,” he said. “I mean, literally, my staff is exhausted from meeting with teams, putting together teams and trying to find the right drivers and everything.”
Dodge developed a Charger to fit NASCAR’s new templates for 2013, but it never will see the race track since Dodge also had problems creating an engine program.