It has been a quiet Thursday, with little to no NASCAR news, except for the non-news of anything pertaining to Jeremy Mayfield.
Watching Twitter, I noticed Marty Smith of ESPN comment he was working on a big story. Less than an hour later, the news broke on Twitter, Facebook and SiriusXM radio 128. The press releases states:
STATESVILLE, N.C. – Richard Petty Motorsports and Yates Racing announced today they have signed a letter of intent to merge operations in time for the 2010 season. The four-car team will race Fords under the Richard Petty Motorsports banner.
Richard Petty: “This is a pretty big deal for us. We’re thrilled to partner with Ford. We’ve talked with a lot of folks, but in the end it came down to the success the Gilletts and I think we can achieve with Ford Racing. Right now this deal is real new. There are lots of details still left to be ironed out so we don’t have a lot of answers for anyone right now. We’ll be working on all that in the coming days, weeks and months, but we do intend to have everything in place before the start of next season. I’ve won races with Ford and plan to again.”
Team Managing Partner Foster Gillett: “Richard and Kasey (Kahne) showed us Sunday night in Atlanta that they like winning quite a bit and Ford is going to provide the support that we need to go to victory lane more often. If you are going to compete with the other teams in this sport you need a lot of support. We bring a lot to this relationship as well. We’ve won twice this season and the power of Richard Petty is hard to beat, plus we have the support of some of the biggest names in corporate America.”
Yates Racing Co-owner Max Jones: “This is certainly a great opportunity for both Yates Racing as well as Ford Racing. I have had a long-term relationship with Ford and look forward to continuing that relationship at Richard Petty Motorsports. Over the coming weeks we will continue to work with Ford and Richard Petty to lay out the best plan for Paul Menard and all of the employees at Yates Racing. We will continue to field both the No. 98 and No. 96 Ford Fusions for the remainder of the season and look forward to continued success on the track with Paul, Bobby Labonte and Erik Darnell.”
Yates Racing Co-owner Doug Yates: “This plan is clearly in the best interest of the Ford Racing community. On a personal level, I am excited about the opportunity to focus my full energy on building Ford horsepower. We look forward to working with Richard Petty Motorsports to produce power second to none. There are many details to be worked out with Richard Petty Motorsports and as we finalize those details we will keep everyone informed.”
Director of Ford North America Motorsports Brian Wolfe: "I am very pleased that Richard Petty Motorsports has made the decision to switch to Ford for the 2010 season. They had choices to consider other than Ford and it's gratifying to us that they have enough faith in the Ford Motor Company and what we're doing to make the switch. We believe we can provide them with superior analytical tools and powertrain, and we will work with them closely on the technical front to help them become even more competitive than they are. What's also really cool to me is the chance to have someone with the class and the legacy of Richard Petty involved with Ford. Combine that with the chance to work with the Gillett family, who we have great respect for, and add some great drivers to the Ford camp, well, it's hard not to be excited about this opportunity."
• Paul Menard will be one of the drivers in the Petty team joining Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and AJ Allmendinger.
This is a huge shock, mainly because no one was expecting this. Some questions remain. What happens to the 26 from Roush-Fenway Racing. What happens to the relationship with RFR. And what happens to Reed Sorenson?
According to Reed on Sirius today, at 3:37 PM, he declared that he has known for a few weeks that he would be looking for another job. He won't be the only one to experience job loss, as a merger will certainly mean that others in the two organizations will be drawing unemployment.
This news is still shaking up the internet and the NASCAR world. More to come!