Richard Petty Motorsports hosted the first Ford stop on this year's Charlotte Motor Speedway media tour Tuesday. It was announced that the merger with Yates Racing has been completed and the four-car team will run Fords in 2010 with a driver...
Richard Petty Motorsports hosted the first Ford stop on this year's Charlotte Motor Speedway media tour Tuesday. It was announced that the merger with Yates Racing has been completed and the four-car team will run Fords in 2010 with a driver lineup that includes Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard, AJ Allmendinger and Elliott Sadler.
Formal remarks, including those of principal owner Foster Gillett and Ford Racing director Jamie Allison, follow below:
FOSTER GILLETT, Principal Owner, Richard Petty Motorsports
"I'm here to announce, I think, the best-kept secret in all of motorsports, which is that the merger between Yates Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports is officially completed and we're all looking forward to a new day when we can race some new Ford Fusions and enter the Ford Racing family.
"I think the thing we're most excited about joining Ford is that we're joining a company with great momentum. I think Ford has come through a very challenging time in our economy and in our racing world, and it was just announced that they won the North American Car of the Year with the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the North American Truck of the Year with the Transit Connect. They've also come off the first full year of growth since 1995 of market share growth in all quarters, and I think as we all know and believe in Ford that only better things are ahead. I think my family can sit at an interesting point because we are Ford dealers as well and one of the things we believe in as a family is that racing helps sell cars. When you win on Sunday, you sell on Monday, so we're excited to be in this to help the winning on Sunday and selling on Monday.
"We know that Ford is a family operation. They have a commitment to racing. They believe in family and winning and they're committed to all the loyal Ford fans around the world."
JAMIE ALLISON, Director, Ford Racing
"Although I've only been in the job for two weeks in this role, I've been at Ford Racing for the last six and a half years working on the enthusiast and grassroots side of the sport. I'm excited to jump into this new role and today is about RPM and Ford.
"On behalf of everyone at Ford Motor Company, we're very, very excited to welcome our new team in Richard Petty Motorsports. The addition of a great team with great talent of drivers in Elliott, Paul, Kasey and AJ, adding to the fleet of Fords on Sunday is something we're looking forward to.
"Just a year ago in the Daytona 500 we had seven Fords start in the field and in this Daytona 500 we expect 11 or maybe even more cars starting in the field, so the depth at Ford and the talent of Ford drivers is something we're really excited about.
"I'd like to point to a couple of key historical perspectives with Richard that is connected to Ford. Back in 1969 Richard ran his only season in a Ford and won nine races, so in 2010 if we could repeat 1969, that would be fantastic. Seriously, that was a fantastic moment. Richard won his 100th race in a Ford, so there are a lot of milestones that we'd love to add to. Richard Petty Motorsports and Richard himself has won in all decades that he has competed. This is 2010, a new decade, and we hope to add to that record of successive wins in every decade.
"There's one more story related to Richard and Ford. Richard has won the Daytona 500 seven times and another event that hasn't happened in 40 years is a Ford pacing the Daytona 500. Mustang has never paced the Daytona 500 until 2010.
"It's a limited edition Mustang GT based on the 2011 Mustang. It's powered by the 5.0 liter, which is another milestone for Mustang. As we all know, Mustangs have been powered by 4.6 liters and now the 5.0 liter is back with Mustang so it's the special return of another mark. It's got 412 horsepower and 25 miles to the gallon. What a great combination.
"I remember my first new car, it was an '87 Mustang GT. It had 225 horsepower and I thought it was all I could handle, but we've progressed a lot in the last 20 years.
"This is one of 50 special editions. Obviously, it's got the unique badging of the Daytona 500. It's got specially painted wheels. It's got the Ford Racing handling suspension and a few other elements to make it a unique edition for the Daytona 500.
"This unit specifically, after today, is making its way to the Barrett-Jackson auction, where I will be joined by Richard to come out and auction it. All proceeds in excess of MSRP will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, so it's a good cause with a great car. We're looking forward to a great season with a new team."
"Just a few notes. We completed this merger officially in December and we're announcing it today. There have been a lot of people doing a tremendous amount of hard work and we really look forward to seeing it on the track. We saw snippets of it last year with AJ driving a Ford Drive One special and doing a good job. We were at New Smyrna and we're working hard to get ready for the new season.
"I think it's important to note that RPM is going to move its facilities onto the Ford Racing campus here in Concord, and we're working diligently to get that completed. I think another note is that there is no change in the ownership or the structure of this company. The Gillett family and Richard are still partners as they were before the merger. "I think it's an exciting day for Richard Petty Motorsports to have Max Jones come from Yates Racing to join us as president and general manager. I think one of the things that we desperately needed, at least in my tenure here, was a man who understood racing and business and how it combines in today's sport. I think it's ever important to have people who understand the racing side, who have also been on the business side, and can speak as easily to the drivers as they can the sponsors. I look forward to all the fruit that our relationship can bear.
"Secondly, I think that Robbie Loomis in his second season as competition director, we look forward to all that he has to offer. He's a wonderful man and I think should do a wonderful job for us, and Sammy Johns is coming back in the role which he held for many years at Richard Petty Motorsports as director of operations. He's gonna be the man with the plan to get us all the cars that we need to compete."
ELLIOTT SADLER -- No. 19 Stanley Tools Ford Fusion
THIS IS A HOMECOMING FOR YOU COMING BACK TO FORD. YOU HAVE ALL THREE OF YOUR CUP WINS WITH THEM, SO YOU MUST BE HAPPY. "Yeah, I tell you what, the 2010 season and getting back with a lot of old faces that I remember from the Ford family, being with that organization for eight years. I'm looking forward to being back with Doug Yates. The relationship that we've kept over the last couple of years, and the relationship that we have with his engine department means a lot to me. I know what it means to have his horsepower under the hood, not only at the restrictor plate races, but at the big tracks. There's a lot of optimism in this race team right now. Richard Petty Motorsports ran a Ford four races last year with all finishes in the top 10, so that's a lot of optimism for our race team building in 2010. I'm looking forward to the new year and keeping our association going with Stanley while also welcoming the Air Force and Hunt Brothers on board, along with Reynolds Wrap, so thank you guys for all you're doing for our company and our race team and I think it's gonna be a great season for us."
WHAT'S THE COUNTDOWN ON BEING A DAD? "About four more weeks and I'll be a dad. It's been the best off-season I've ever had. It's been so exciting getting the room ready and getting things ready for our little baby boy to come along. It's up to him now, but I'm thinking in the next four or five weeks we'll have him. My wife and me can't be anymore excited and thanks to everyone who has been sending tweets and cards of well wishes."
PAUL MENARD -- No. 98 Menards Ford Fusion
YOU HAVE A NEW CREW CHIEF IN SLUGGER LABBE THIS YEAR. "We spent the day in New Smyrna yesterday and it went well. It was more of a getting to know each other kind of deal, but we learned some things along the way. I think what Slugger did last year with the 71 car and how much they struggled financially, they made a lot of gains and I was really impressed with what he did. I'm looking forward to working with him this year and the other guys up here and in the front row in making RPM a force to be reckoned with. Having Jamie come on board this year, it's cool to see Ford's focus in racing. This is a cool deal and I'm looking forward to 2010."
KASEY KAHNE -- No. 9 Budweiser Ford Fusion
HOW DO YOU FEEL COMING OFF A SOLID SEASON LAST YEAR AND BEING IN THESE FORD FUSIONS? "I look forward to it. Late in the season with AJ driving the Ford and Elliott driving the Ford, they looked really good and had a lot of good things to say about the Yates engine. Combining what we have with some of the Roush guys and what we're building there is definitely something to look forward to. I'm excited. We went out to California and did a tire test for Goodyear and I really liked what I felt. I'm just excited for the season to start and looking forward to Daytona. It's getting close, so hopefully it comes soon and we get started."
AJ ALLMENDINGER -- No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion
YOU TESTED AT NEW SMYRNA AS WELL AND YOU DROVE A FORD LATE IN THE YEAR. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? "I think the last few races last year being in a Ford was real exciting for me, and obviously you could just see right from the beginning how it just boosted how fast our team was and how much better we were getting each weekend. That was something going into the off-season -- Mike Shiplett and I, and everybody on the 43 team and everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports -- we could really build on and be excited about. Yesterday it was just kind of an idea of getting back in the race car. We've added a couple key components to the road crew and the pit crew that, I think, are really just gonna strengthen our race team as a whole, so it was more for me to just get back in the car and get a feel for what the Cup car felt like. I've been doing some off-season testing in the Grand-Am car with Ford, so trying to get used to the Cup car again and just get our guys working together. More than anything, it's just an honor for me to drive the No. 43 and run with that tradition and be a part of that, but more than anything I'm just pumped up and excited to get the season started."
-source: ford racing/rpm