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So over at Richard Petty Motorsports, who's in charge...and where's George Gillett, the moneyman behind the operation?

   The King and 'the boss,' Robbie Loomis (Photo: Getty Images for NAS CAR)

    By Mike Mulhern

    DOVER, Del.
    Robbie Loomis, the man apparently running daily operations for George Gillett and Richard Petty, won't come out and say who-when-and-where directly, but he does say "it shouldn't surprise anyone" if one of the Gillett-Petty Dodge team cars this fall becomes a Ford.
   Just what is going on behind the scenes in the Gillett-Doug Yates 'merger,' or buyout, or whatever it really is, is unclear, perhaps even to many of those right in the middle of it.
   However Petty says the team, currently a four-car operation, will be running all Fords next season, most likely with Roush-Yates engines.
   And Loomis says "we're in an information gathering stage (with Fords) right now. Obviously there is a lot to learn, not just from the car side but also from the motor side. So we want to gather as much information as we can.
  "And it shouldn't surprise anybody if we have one on the track before the end of the year."
   "There are different ways to look at it – if you're going to test the systems and the power, you'd want to go to a bigger track. If you want to test the chassis and handling, you'd go to a shorter track, or a place where it's hard to handle.
  "There are a lot of things we're trying to work through right now. Way more questions than answers."
   One question, of course, is the Gillett-Petty engine department, which it appears would essentially be dissolved at the end of the season if the newly merged operation starts running Roush-Yates engines. However there are questions about that too. And those questions have intensified with Kasey Kahne's blown engine at Loudon, N.H., which probably doomed his championship bid, and with Elliott Sadler's blown engine here Friday.
   Loomis says the two engine problems were unrelated, and he says "the engine department guys are doing great, Chuck Palmer, Charlie Segers, Bill Pink here trackside.
   "It's a shame the trouble we've had, because it has raised a lot of questions in the 'outside' world.
   "But those guys are really digging in, and they're really committed to the deal. They're really digging in through this hurricane we're going through.
   Sadler's blown engine "was a development motor," Loomis said, "in hopes of having something for Kasey's car at Kansas (next week). And fortunately the problem had nothing to do with the development part."
   So how many of those engine guys are going to be around next year? The engine staff is up to 80 people.
   Loomis said that was a question yet to be answered: "But anybody who is doing a great job is going to be in good shape for the future."
   The biggest question may be Gillett himself, who hasn't given any on the merger and who hasn't even had much to say about anything during his two years as a team owner in NASCAR. Is Gillett losing his interest in NASCAR and trying to ease out?
   Gillett hasn't been willing to talk about that.
   And what about the reports that AJ Allmendinger and Reed Sorenson are not being paid, that they have accepted much of a pay cut, in order to keep the Gillett-Petty operation a four-car team?
   That has to be bizarre. If Gillett just sold the Montreal Canadiens for $500 million….why aren't his drivers getting paid? What's going on here?
   Loomis just smiles and says the drivers aren't hurting for money: "The definition of 'getting paid' could be categorized differently for a lot of different drivers," Loomis said. "Let's be careful how we say that. Because at the end of the day, the drivers are not hurting…."
   Petty says that Gillett is in effect buying Yates' two-Ford team, which will be a four-car team next year. However the precise ownership picture being proposed isn't clear.
   Which four drivers? It is expected they would be Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Paul Menard.
   Menard has had some good weeks this season but he has generally struggled otherwise in Yates' equipment.
   Sadler has likewise struggled with Gillett, but he has at least one more year on his current contract.
   Petty says he'd like Allmendinger to be in No. 43 next season, but the specific lineup will depend on what the sponsors want. Sponsorship for the legendary Petty 43 has been varied this season; it carried Valvoline colors this weekend.
   Will Kahne be back with a new Dodge R06 engine for Kansas City next weekend? He ran an old R05 in the Dover 400.
   "That will be determined after this race," Loomis said. "The R05 has been performing great. We just have a lot more history and notebook-reliability with the R05, which is why we went back to it…as we try to settle the waters right now."


Whew...that gave me a headache. Just what is going on over there? What will happen to all the real estate? The Statesville shop has three buildings, room to expand and the airport basically across the street.
If the merge actually takes place, why can't Doug Yates just work out of Statesville and go back to building his engines here? That was something he was extremely good at. Leave Roush out of the equation altogether.

Or...is this merger a way for the Gillette Family to leave gracefully?

Time will tell. At least Menard is guaranteed a ride somewhere - maybe not with these guys.

Good question, good question.

Good question, good question. think you've got a headache, what about all those guys working for those teams, and their families. one major aspect of all this/these mergers is that nascar and the team owners are doing their best not to kick crewmen out on the street. it's a tough road right now. which is one reason we keep harping on tv ratings and the chase -- that's key to sponsors, and the loss of Jack and Jim ain't helping things....
the statesville shop is great; good facility, airport, yes, and i've watched it grow from the first day bill elliott set up shop in one of those hangers....but it's a good 45 minutes or longer on I-77 (UGH!) down to Charlotte...and Statesville is nice but it's not quite Charlotte, and if you're a young college grad, you want a little more nightlife and cultural options than iredell county may offer. If George (or son Foster) would show up and face the press, maybe we could get some answers. but i think the bottom line is simple -- george got into nascar when the sport was booming and prices were high, and he's already in the deep waters of world sports with english soccer team, and he had to sell the montreal canadiens (horrors! can you imagine having to sell an iconic brand like that?), and i just sense that george has had it with nascar -- no fun, too many headaches, too expensive. hey, and i think paul is picking up the pace a bit, isn't he?

Follow the Real Estate...

Let's put all the real estate cards on the table and see what fits best. If they could put 4 of the "Petty" cars in a car prep barn fed discreetly from across the street by Roush Central Manufacturing, that would free up the Gillett Statesville shops to receive the only Team that has already announced expansion plans with sponsorship to match.
The Roush Nationwide fleet, which is currently land-bound in Lakeside Park, would fit very nicely in Statesville and open up an easy opportunity for Red Bull to expand in Lakeside Park. This cascading real estate transaction would clear up many Team problems in one swift move.
The Eel River / Yates / Petty / Yates building in Talbert Pointe is too small for a four car Team, unless they are not doing any car manufacturing.
In order to sustain a viable Vertically Integrated Manufacturing system, you need to ensure sufficient convenient "customers" to keep all the departments humming. Thus, Hendrick Chassis and Engines supply HMS and Stewart-Haas and JR, Roush-Fenway and Roush-Yates feed Roush, Petty, Wood Bros and Roush Nationwide, TRD, RCR, etc. We are nearing the inevitable next phase where the authorized sources of the COT chassis will number less than 10.

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Excellent analysis...but with

Excellent analysis...but with all the land available over in the concord airport area, why not just put everything there? certainly plenty of empty buildings.
and, yes, nascar is moving toward numbering and limiting team cots. whether that's a good move, i don't know. i don't think that's a real problem. the real problem: another JJ chase runaway, more boring races, weak tv ratings, sponsors bailing out...and the NFL on a new high.



i agree petty and mopar

i agree petty and mopar should be a team....but dodge execs apparently dont want to pay what it takes. i still cant believe dodge's mike accavitti is going to go with just one legitimate title contender in 2010, kurt busch; but i dont see much money coming out of turin or wherever the new dodge headquarters is....and from what i gather fiat doesnt think too much about nascar in general. of course, after ferrari and f1, anything else would seem downhill....

Paul Menard

Is it Paul or his father that isn't happy with the Yates/Petty merger? I read the article and it wasn't clear which one. If Menard pulls out, where will Paul go? And where will the money come from for RPM? No wonder everyone has headaches, especially the RPM stables. It's a sad thing for all concerned. Kasey will have to give some serious thought as to his future. He is too good to be wasting away in a place that can't give him the equipment he needs. If he leaves I think they will lose all his sponsors too. In a perfect world there would be a 3rd car at Stewart/Haas for him in 2011.

to be honest, after hearing

to be honest, after hearing about this saudia thing today, i'm ready to throw my hands up. i dont even know who this george gillett guy is; he hasn't given a decent interview in two years. I think he's just trying to make money out of all this, and he figured the petty brand would sell....maybe it will. but to a saudi prince, who wants to build a nascar track in the middle east? this stuff is flat crazy....

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