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Report: Richard Petty Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing to align

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Richard Petty Motorsports will switch from Ford to Chevrolet, be aligned with Richard Childress Racing and relocate to the RCR campus in Welcome, North Carolina, according to a report Thursday by SportsBusiness Daily.

Spokespersons for Chevrolet, Richard Petty Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing told NBC Sports on Thursday they had no comment on the report.

Petty confirmed the move to RCR’s campus to Kickin’ the Tires on Thursday at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis.

“We are in the process of moving from where we are now to closer to home, over in Lexington from Mooresville,” Petty told Kickin’ the Tires. “We are off in the corner up at RCR. When you first come in you go by the museum and we’ve got the first building up there, so … we’re on the campus but we’re really not on the campus. We are on the corner of the campus. I guess he (Richard Childress) done that so he could kick us out if we get to causing too much trouble up there.”

On the manufacture switch, Petty told Kickin’ the Tires: “We’re switching to something. Yeah, yeah, you know, It’s a pretty foregone conclusion what is going on, right now.

“We’ll probably be working off of him (Childress), sort of, like we did off of Roush with Ford.”

Richard Petty Motorsports is in the midst of significant change. The team announced Oct. 25 that Darrell Wallace Jr. would drive the No. 43 car next season. He will take over for Aric Almirola, who left after this season to join Stewart-Haas Racing.

RPM stated Aug. 28 that it would vacate the race shop it leased in Mooresville, North Carolina, after the season.

The organization continues to look for sponsorship. Smithfield had been a primary sponsor the past six years. Smithfield will sponsor Almirola at Stewart-Haas Racing next year but also is expected to stay on in some form with RPM, according to a SportsBusiness Daily report in October. Richard Petty Motorsports announced Nov. 3 that Click n’ Close will sponsor the car in at least three races next year, including the Daytona 500. STP announced Nov. 13 that it would sponsor RPM in two races in 2018

The pairing of Richard Petty Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing makes sense because RCR appears to have room at its facility. Richard Childress Racing, which has run three full-time Cup teams the past six seasons, has not announced plans for the No. 27 Cup team. That ride was left in question after Paul Menard and sponsor Menard’s announced in July that they would move to the Wood Brothers for 2018.

Richard Childress Racing, which has three charters, has announced only Cup entries for next season for Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman. Richard Petty Motorsports has two charters (it leased one last year) but is only expected to field the No. 43 for Wallace.

Petty told Kickin’ the Tires that the team is leasing a charter for the 2018 season to Rick Ware Racing for the No. 51 car with Ray Black Jr.

By partnering, it would allow RPM to have access to the engineering support Richard Childress Racing can supply. By adding RPM, it would allow Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines to offset the loss of the No. 27 team if it doesn’t run next season.

Also, a move by Wallace and RPM to Chevrolet would mean that half the 14 Chevrolet Cup drivers who have been announced with rides for next season would be age 25 or under to start the season. Wallace is 24 and would join William Byron (age 20), Chase Elliott (22), Alex Bowman (24), Kyle Larson (25), Ty Dillon (25) and Chris Buescher (25) in the Chevrolet roster with such a move.

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NASCAR America: Challenges of manufacturer parity in Cup

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As NASCAR closes the 2017 season this week in Las Vegas, an issue becomes if manufacturer parity will be a reality in 2018.

Toyota, which debuted a new Camry before the 2017 season, didn’t win the most races in the regular season — Chevrolet did with 10 — but Toyota won eight of 10 playoff races and won the championship with Martin Truex Jr. (Chevrolet went winless in the playoffs).

Toyota’s dominance was an issue Ford driver Brad Keselowski raised toward the end of the regular season. Toyota driver Kyle Busch had a sharp response to Keselowski’s comments at Chicagoland Speedway on the opening weekend of the playoffs. 

NASCAR America’s Kyle Petty and Jeff Burton addressed the issue of manufacturer parity.

“Is the parity of the manufacturers, is that such that you’re going to have to do a (car) submittal every year?’’ Burton said. “So that Ford can go back … (and) resubmit the same car to be able to shift that downforce. I don’t think a Toyota makes more downforce than a Ford. I think it makes more rear downforce and less front and that was advantageous this year with the rules. That’s a tough situation for NASCAR to get a hold of.’’

Chevrolet debuts the Camaro ZL1 next season in Cup. That will leave Ford with the oldest model among the three manufacturers

“It’s going to be interesting to see what NASCAR does or how they try to balance the field,’’ Petty said. “If they want true parity, they’re going to have to look at this at some point in time and try to figure out how to weigh it.’’

Watch the video above for more from Petty and Burton on the issue.

Richard Petty Motorsports adds sponsor for 2018

Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway
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FORT WORTH, Texas — Richard Petty Motorsports announced that Click n’ Close will be the primary sponsor of the No. 43 car for at least three races next season, including the Daytona 500.

Darrell Wallace Jr. will drive the No. 43 car next year. He replaces Aric Almirola, who is expected to drive the No. 10 at Stewart-Haas Racing next season. Stewart-Haas Racing is scheduled to announce the driver for the No. 10 car Wednesday.

Richard Petty Motorsports has yet to announce what its manufacturer will be, where the team will be located and its full sponsor lineup for 2018.

Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance, addressed if RPM will be back with Ford.

“Ford remains committed to being RPM’s OEM partner for the 2018 season and we are awaiting finalization of our contract to do so,’’ Pericak said in a statement. “RPM has not made a commitment to Ford for 2018 as of yet.”

Click n’ Close is Mid America Mortgage’s new digital mortgage approve and closing platform. The company has entered into an official partnership with NASCAR and RPM.

Click n’ Close will sponsor Wallace at Phoenix and Texas next year, along with the Daytona 500.

“We have recently had a lot of positive discussions about our race program in 2018, and having a new partner such as Click n’ Close is proof of that,” said Richard Petty, co-owner, Richard Petty Motorsports, in a statement. “Click n’ Close is a perfect tool for people who want a faster, more secure way to apply for a mortgage. We feel that Bubba and our team are a perfect fit to help spread their message to NASCAR fans across the country.”

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Brad Keselowski goes for season sweep at Martinsville Speedway (video)

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Brad Keselowski‘s win last April at Martinsville Speedway was a big deal, not just for the Team Penske driver, but for team’s manufacturer.

The victory was Keselowski’s first at the oldest track on the NASCAR circuit in 15 starts. But it was the first for Ford at the short track in 28 races.

Ford hadn’t celebrated a win at the half-mile track since Kurt Busch won in 2002.

Keselowski’s triumph also made him the first repeat Cup winner of the season after his victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Both were his first win at each track.

In Sunday’s First Date 500 at Martinsville (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN), Keselowski, who is one of the eight remaining drivers in the Cup playoffs, will try do something only Kyle Larson has done this year.

A win by Keselowski would make him and Larson the only drivers to sweep Cup races at a track. Larson accomplished the feat with his victories at Michigan in June and August.

But in his eight full-time Cup seasons, Keselowski has yet to complete a sweep at a track.

Keselowski’s recent stats at Martinsville have been favorable. In his last five starts, the No. 2 Ford has four top fives and three finishes in the top two. The only outlier is a 32nd-place finish in the fall 2015 race.

But in the last four races of the year, Keselowski’s win at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 15 is his only result better than 10th.

The N0. 2 team views Martinsville as a must-win situation in its quest to advance to the championship four at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which would be a first for Keselowski.

“I think I’ve told my team that,” crew chief Paul Wolfe said after Keselowski’s victory at Talladega. “We’ve looked at it.  You’ve got to be realistic about where you’re at right now, where our cars are at speed‑wise, what our strengths and weaknesses are, and you’ve got to do your best to capitalize when you can.  Absolutely, I look at Martinsville as we need to go there and win, and if we can do that, we’ll race for a championship.”

Should Keselowski make a return trip to Martinsville’s victory lane on its start-finish line, it would be his fifth on a short track. It would tie Dale Earnhardt Jr. with for seventh among active drivers.

Active Short Track Winners Wins
Jimmie Johnson 14 (9 at Martinsville)
Kyle Busch 11 (1)
Denny Hamlin 9 (5)
Kurt Busch 9 (2)
Kevin Harvick 6 (1)
Matt Kenseth 6
Dale Earnhardt Jr 5 (1)
Brad Keselowski 4 (1)
Joey Logano 4
Clint Bowyer 2
Kasey Kahne 2
Ryan Newman 2 (1)
Kyle Larson 1

Cole Pearn on questions about team’s success: ‘Sad sign of the times’

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
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Amid talk last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway that Toyotas had an advantage entering the Cup playoffs, Martin Truex Jr. won Sunday’s race to give the manufacturer its fifth victory in the last seven events.

Truex, who advances to the second round with the Chicagoland victory, has scored two wins and four top-five finishes during that stretch. Kyle Busch has two wins for Toyota during that stretch and Denny Hamlin has one win.

Tuesday, Truex’s crew chief, Cole Pearn, was asked on “The Morning Drive’’ about his reaction to those who suggest his team’s success is due to some sort of impropriety instead of hard work.

“I think that maybe just comes with the territory,’’ Pearn said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It’s a little bit sad sign of the times. You do a lot of hard work and a ton of people put a lot of effort into it and then people try to take the wind out of your sails a little bit. That’s just the world we live in, unfortunately.

“I don’t know I remember racing being that way when I was growing up, but that is the way it is now, and unfortunately that just comes with the territory and you just deal with it.’’

Ford driver Brad Keselowski has been vocal in recent weeks — and was so again last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway — about Toyota’s advantage and NASCAR needing to even the competition. In his comments, though, Keselowski has not accused Toyota teams of achieving their success due to improper methods.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, was asked Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about NASCAR’s reaction to Keselowski’s comments.

“I think we look at it as just a competitor,’’ O’Donnell said. “Certainly our job is to put a level playing field out there. We’ve got a submission process that each of the (manufacturers) goes through and kind of witnesses, so we believe they are on a level playing field. For us, I look at it as a little bit of posturing. Brad certainly ran well this weekend (finishing sixth).

“At the end of the day, you’ve had that car all year long, you’ve got to go out there, it’s playoffs and you’ve got to deliver. You’re seeing drivers who are going to be on the top of their game. We’ll get to the end of the year and see where we’re at and evaluate things for ’18, but when we look across the board for the entirety of the year … multiple teams have been able to win, so we’ll see how that plays out here.’’

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