Richard Petty has admitted that the NASCAR team bearing his name is considering all options for next year as its contract with Dodge expires at the end of the season.
Following Richard Petty Motorsports' victory with Kasey Kahne at Infineon Raceway last weekend – the first since Petty gave the former Gillett Evernham Racing a new name, and Petty's first since 1999 – the seven-time Sprint Cup champion said the team will look at every option they have for 2010 as its deal with Chrysler is up for renewal at the end of the year. When asked about a possible switch to another manufacturer, after Chrysler recently filed for bankruptcy protection, Petty said his team is open to talks with anyone interested in supporting the squad's long-term future.
"We are looking at all options we have," said Petty. "We've been with Dodge all these years and we don't really know where they are at. We are talking to Dodge, we're talking to anybody that wants to talk.
"Right now, we are in the process of trying to come up with what we think is going to be best for Richard Petty Motorsports, not only in the near future but in the future way out there."
Petty's outfit is running a four-car operation, which also includes Dodge Chargers for Reed Sorenson, Elliot Sadler and AJ Allmendinger. Petty has been through other recessions during more than 50 years in NASCAR and has seen manufacturers come and go, but he says the impact of the current downturn has been felt more than any before.
"We have been there when the factories were involved and the factories got out, and we've been through other recessions or whatever they want to call it, over a period of time. But none of them have affected us as directly as what's going on today," Petty said. "Now, the way the economy is, it's affecting everybody. Whether you're in the limelight or wherever you're at, it's really affected everybody."
Although Petty has raced with other manufacturers in the past, his last name has been tied to Chrysler for many years, since Petty Motorsports ran Plymouths for his father Lee Petty in NASCAR's inaugural season.
Petty himself won his first Sprint Cup title driving a Plymouth in 1964.