NASCAR Notes: Sprint Cup Class Of 2013: Richard Petty Motorsports
By Dave Grayson
Richard Petty Motorsports, (RPM), will again be fielding Fords for drivers Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola during the 2013 season. The teams garnered a lot of attention during January testing at Daytona and were frequently seen near the top of the speed charts. That’s a sign that indicates we might witness some general improvement in team performance levels that will bolster noticeable improvements from last year.
Certainly one of the reasons for this organizations rejuvinated chemistry lies with some personnel changes made late last year. The two drivers went through some crew chief swaps last year in order to find that chemistry. Veteran Drew Blickensderfer, who left Richard Childress Racing late last year to join RPM, will be manning the pit box for Ambrose and the #9 team. Almirola will be working with Todd Parrott, another veteran crew chief with an impressive Sprint Cup resume. Those personnel changes were bolstered late last year with the arrival of Sammy Johns, RPM’s new Director of Competition.
The team will continue their relationship with Roush Fenway Racing and Roush Yates Engines who will supply them Ford Fusions and power plants.
The one area of possible distraction here lies in the fact that it will be a very busy year for business administration. RPM officials will have to spend a lot of time renegotiating contracts that concludes at the end of 2013. Those negotiations includes new contracts for both drivers, a new manufacturers contract as well as several contracts pertaining to their list of primary sponsors.
#9 MARCOS AMBROSE. SPONSOR: STANLEY-BLACK & DECKER & DEWALT TOOLS FORD. CREW CHIEF: DREW BLICKENSDERFER.
NASCAR’s favorite “Aussie” begins his third season with RPM. There is a noticeable increase in confidence levels. He’s coming off of a 2012 season that brought some noticeable improvement in performance levels. He finished the season with a win, at the Watkins Glen road course, along with three top five finishes, eight top tens, and two poles along with a respectable average finish ratio of 18.
Ambrose is a well established road racing ace bolstered by his tenure as a multi champion in the Australian V8 Supercar Series. That experienced loomed large during the Sprint Cup’s last two races at Watkins Glen where Ambrose parked his car in victory lane. What Ambrose really wants from this new season is to win on an oval track. Many NASCAR observers believes that just might happen this year and we should not be surprised if it occurs on a short track.
#43. ARIC ALMIROLA. SMITHFIELD FOODS FORD. CREW CHIEF: TODD PARROTT.
Aric Almirola returns for his second, full time, season as the driver for Richard Petty’s famed #43. He finished 2012 20th in the final points standings based on one top five finish, four top tens, one pole and a 20.0 average finish ratio. Like his team mate, Ambrose, this young driver is already feeling the newly established team chemistry from veterans like Parrott and Johns. His efforts during the Daytona pre season tests certainly reinforces that theory. That element will likely boost Almirola’s personal confidence levels to new heights that could possibly lead to securing his first Cup win.
The team’s primary sponsor will be Smithfield Foods who increased their participation from 18 races last year to 25 this year. The hood of the race car will feature the corporations multiple brands again including Smithfield, Gwaltney Foods Eckrich and Farmland. The United States Air Force will sponsor two events this year along with one race sponsored by STP. That adds up to 28 sponsored races out of the scheduled 36. While the organization’s business administration team will be busy attempting to sell the ad space for the open events, they do have a back up plan in place. That would be Medallion Financial, the New York based company owned by RPM’s co-owner Andrew Murstein.