2010-01-28 / Sports

Allemendinger All Set In Petty’s No. 43

By Gerald Hodges THE RACING REPORTER

A. J. Allmendinger landed at Richard Petty Motorsports last year and showed enough promise to drive Petty’s famed No. 43 this season. Now that the RPM and Yates Racing merger is complete, Allmendinger is all set.

“The King, he’s been so good taking me on board and struggling to keep me in racing,” said Allmendinger, who always refers to Petty by his title as the unofficial King of NASCAR.

“Being a part of the 43 there is that added pressure. And the last few years the 43 hasn’t been up front as much as it should be,” he said. “I would love to take that 43 back to Victory Lane. I want to make the King happy. He’s the nicest guy in the world and nobody deserves to be in Victory Lane more than he does.”

Richard Petty was away from his team last week while tending to his wife. He was absent at a press conference to announce his team’s recent merger with Yates Racing and the teams’ switch to Ford.

One of the customized Dodge Challenger SRT’s built by the Petty Garage sold for $130,000 on Barrett Jackson Car Auction. The proceeds from the sale went to the Petty Foundation, which helps disabled American veterans and underprivelaged children.

With the season-opening Daytona 500 less than three weeks away, NASCAR announced a series of decisions this past week in response to an increasingly critical fan base that is intended to “loosen up” the racing.

“Over the past 10 years we’ve dramatically increased safety and that mission continues,” said CEO Brian France. “However, it’s time for us to allow the drivers to drive. We don’t want the rules and regulations to get in the way of great racing and fantastic finishes.”

He said the loosening of ontrack rules and policies should enhance competition and backto basics racing.

Two of the major changes involved changing the wing on the Cup cars to a spoiler and allowing “bump drafting.”

“Allowing bump drafting will be exciting for the fans,” said Jay Guy, crew chief of the No. 12 Penske Dodge with driver Brad Keselowski. “You have to applaud NASCAR for listening to the fans and giving them what they want. As long as it is done right, it won’t be that big of a deal. It can get out of control when you have someone without a lot of experience trying to do it in the middle of the corner. Then it can cause a big wreck. I think NASCAR is doing everything they can to promote better racing for the fans, and that will certainly do it. Hopefully drivers can control how they do it.”

“The indication from NASCAR is that once we put the spoiler on we won’t take it back off, so that helps a little with the preparation for the rest of the year. There could be some changes to it, like the bigger ends you see on the new Nationwide COT. I think it will give some of the veterans a feel that they were used to in the older car.”

“For someone like Brad, it should keep him closer to the feel of the Nationwide car. I think most people just like the way it looks on the car. I agree with them, but in addition to that, it should promote closer, side-byside racing.”

The spoiler will help in the appearance of the car, and although early reviews by drivers and team owners have been encouraging, the jury’s still out on the competition side.

As of now, there isn’t anyone who knows exactly what that answer will be until the spoiler version of the car gets on the track at Daytona.

What we do know about the on-track product is that the drivers will have much more in their control than in recent seasons. NASCAR will take a decidedly more hands-off approach this coming season and promises to let them race without the worry of too many ramifications. The only exception is that drivers cannot go below the yellow line, either at Daytona or Talladega.

“We’re going to put it back in the hands of the drivers,” V-P of Competition Robin Pemberton said. “The boys can have at it and have a good time, that’s all I can say.”

Every team is equal in January. Every driver believes at the beginning of the season that he is capable of winning races. Every crew chief thinks his guys have worked harder than everyone else. Every team owner believes his operation is on the rise.

The truth is that some of the teams will do better than in the previous year.

Most won’t.

Many of the drivers and team owners have given optimistic statements to the press about what they expect in 2010. After 15 years of covering NASCAR, I’ve learned that what they say and really believe isn’t always the same. You have to cut through all the wordy statements and news releases.

Truth is usually somewhere in between.

And you mustn’t leave “luck” out of the picture. Without luck on your side, all the money and driving skills in the world aren’t going to be enough to give you a winning season.

Sadly, it is all about money now. That is the main ingredient

I’m going to wait until I see it on the track before I believe.

The NASCAR Camping Truck race originally scheduled for the Milwaukee Mile has been transferred to Darlington Raceway.

The race was taken from the Milwaukee track after the track owners were unable to line up a promoter for it.

The Aug. 14 race will be a single day schedule featuring practice, qualifying and a 170.75-mile, 125-lap race beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The 2010 season is the 16th for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and begins Feb. 12 at Daytona International Speedway.

Weekend racing: The Daytona Rolex 24, Grand-Am race is set to begin Saturday, Jan. 30, at 3 p.m. (EDT). The 24-hour, 3.56-mile, 12-turn speedway road course will be broadcast on Speed Channel.

Racing trivia question: Who was the winner of the first Daytona 500?

Last week’s question: When is the first points race of the 2010 NASCAR Cup season. Answer. It is the Daytona 500, which will be run February 14.

Return to top