Director of Race Operations Sammy Johns Gives His Thoughts about Richard Petty Motorsports Progress after First Five Weeks
Concord, N.C. (March 29, 2012) – This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for the sixth race of the 2012 schedule. The NASCAR Nationwide Series, which has also raced four consecutive weeks, will now take two weekends off before racing again at Texas Motor Speedway. Richard Petty Motorsports director of race operations Sammy Johns gives his thoughts on the progress of both the No. 9 and No. 43 Sprint Cup teams as well as the No. 43 Nationwide program after the first two months of racing.
Comments from Sammy Johns:
“I think through the first four or five races with our Sprint Cup program we’ve shown speed for sure. The No. 9 Stanley Ford has probably been a top-five car each week, outside the event at California. We don’t have the results that show that, but that’s what we’re working on now. We’ve just had some different circumstances with that team that sometimes didn’t deliver the results we hoped. Whether it was getting caught up in a wreck, an engine failure or different things like that, we just didn’t finish the deal. But, we’re pleased with our speed and the No. 9 team as whole right now.
“We’ve all been really happy with Aric (Almirola) and the No. 43 team, too, with their progression. Aric was new to our race program this season and has progressed really well. We have had some momentum in practice and qualifying, but need to get a bit better with our races. As long as we can continue to have fast cars, with both our teams, I’m confident that we can figure these little things out. I’m really pleased with the communication between Greg (Erwin) and Aric so far. We just need more races under our belt with them working together. After a full year together, developing that relationship that Todd (Parrott) and Marcos have, I think they’ll be just as strong.
“Looking at the first five races, Daytona is just such a crap shoot for anyone, but we had two really fast cars all Speedweeks. We feel good about our plate program and heading back to Talladega in May. Obviously, those races are still a lot about avoiding the accidents. At Phoenix, Aric had a good run and Marcos was having one, too, until the engine issue at the end. At Las Vegas, both cars were pretty fast and same at Bristol. We didn’t get the results we wanted, whether it was a wreck with the No. 9 team at Bristol or a pit road penalty at Las Vegas with the No. 43 team. There are some things that we control and some we can’t. We’ll fix the things we can control.
“We just need some consistency in the next few months right now. I think we have all the components, we’ve proven to be fast, but just need consistent top-10 finishes and then top-fives each week. If we do that, then we can compete weekly for wins. It’s also going to get us settled into a good spot in points. We can still jump up a few spots pretty quickly so it’s important to have good runs right now to position both our cars for the ‘chase’ at the end of the summer.
“Our Nationwide team is moving along in the right direction. We have a few weeks to really get caught up on that now. It was also a program that came together right before the season, but Michael (Annett) and Philippe (Lopez) have done a nice job of getting good finishes. We want to work on qualifying and other stuff, but now have that time to figure these areas. I’ve been really happy with Michael during the races. He’s a really good driver and does a great job for us. We want to work on some communication between him and the team to see if we can improve there. I think we’re in a bit of hole at the start of some of the races and we want to work on getting qualified better. The races are so short that it’s tough to compensate for that.
“Overall, we’ve got some work to do on all fronts, but we have seen the potential about what we can do and the finishes we can get. We’re an organization that’s really coming together right now. I feel that the consistency will come and we’re going to race weekly in the top-10. We’re going to keep working on it and get better as we go.”