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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Petty’

Richard Petty Motorsports Climbing Back to Relevancy

Posted by chadmusselman on October 1, 2011

Back in January I posted about how Richard Petty regained ownership of his race team and was going to lead the day-to-day operations.  The question was, would he make a difference, and would his cars win?

The quick answer is, yes he has made a difference, and his cars have won.  Neither of Petty’s two cars made the chase, but Marcos Ambrose has won a race, and A.J. Allmendinger is sitting 15th in points.  Now, these aren’t earth shattering performances by the Richard Petty Motorsports drivers, but it does show improvement and that The King is making an impact.

This is the 5th season for Allmendinger in the Sprint Cup Series and he’s improved each season.  In 2007 he finished 44th in the standings, and last year was up to 19th.  With eight races left in the chase Allmendinger is 15th in points; only four points out of 12th.  It is a realistic goal for Allmendinger to get up to 12th place and build some momentum and hype for the 2012 season, when he should have a very good shot to make the chase.

Through 28 races in 2011 Allmendinger has eight finishes of 21st or worse.  If he could have turned four of those finishes into 20th place or better he would have received about 14 more points and been a serious contender to beat Denny Hamlin out of the last spot for the chase.  If Allmendinger can get a few more top twenty finishes next season he will be a contender for the chase.

Marcos Ambrose has won a race this season along with four top five and eight top ten finishes, but finds himself down in 23rd.  He has been way too inconsistent to say he’s close to contending to make the chase in 2012.  With those top ten finishes Ambrose had had some bad races as well.  After 28 races in 2011 Ambrose has nine finishes 25th or worse, and thirteen finishes outside of the top 20.  He really needs to find a way to cut those numbers in half before we talk about him making the chase and giving Richard Petty a strong second driver.

Can Ambrose make the improvements?  This is his fourth season in the Sprint Cup Series and his best season, points wise, was in 2009 when he finished 18th.  His one win, four top five and 8 top ten finishes are all career highs, but overall it appears that he hasn’t figured everything out that’s needed.  I don’t see him becoming a challenger any time soon, or ever.

Petty is making strides to becoming relevant again, mostly with Allmendinger, but it’s obvious more work needs to be done.  I’m sure they will be working hard for the rest of the season, and in the off-season to get both drivers more consistent and have Allmendinger contending for the chase.  Richard Petty knows how to race, so if there is anyone that can help coach up drivers, it would be him.

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The King is Back in Control…Now, Will His Team Win?

Posted by chadmusselman on January 23, 2011

The King, Richard Petty, is back (in a way) to NASCAR.  In the off-season Richard Petty took back ownership and will lead the day-to-day operations of his team, Richard Petty Motorsports.

It was almost two years ago that Richard Petty had to sell his team to George Gillett due to financial troubles.  After he sold the team he lost control over the day-to-day operations and was merely a figurehead for the team.  He had no power or decision-making ability.  Richard Petty had to watch the team get run into the ground and into insignificance in 2009 & 2010 by ownership that didn’t really have an interest in NASCAR.

Now, Petty has his power back after partnering with a pair of investment companies to buy out George Gillett.  The question is, will he make a difference, and will his cars win?

Let’s look at the cars and drivers first:

Richard Petty Motorsports will field two cars in the 2011 season; No. 43 to be driven by A.J. Allmendinger and No. 9 to be driven by Marcos Ambrose.  They will drive Fords with chassis provided by Roush Fenway Racing and engines provided by Roush-Yates Engines.  Those are solid shops, and should give RPM the equipment it needs to stay competitive, but can the drivers get it done?

A.J. Allmendinger finished 19th in the 2010 point standings, a career best, with two top five and eight top ten finishes.  2011 will be his 5th season in NASCAR Sprint Cup, and he’s improved in the standings each season, so he should be poised to have an even better 2011.

Marcos Ambrose finished 26th in points in 2010, which was a step back for him.  He finished 18th in points in 2009.  He did have two top five and five top ten finishes in 2010, but fourteen finishes of 30th or worse really killed his chances of having a good season.  If Ambrose is going to improve in 2011 he’ll have to learn to finish races and salvage top 25 finishes.

Can Richard Petty Make Them Better?

The simple answer is, of course he can!  He’s The King!  Granted, Petty is getting up in age and the racing in his era was much different from today, but he still has limitless knowledge of the sport, and is respected by everyone involved.  If he says something, people listen.  He’ll be able to teach Allmendinger and Ambrose some things.  He’ll also have to ability to run the team how he wants, and ensure the focus is on finishing the races and collecting top 20 finishes.  Collecting top 20 finishes can get you a top 15 finish in the point standings.  (Ryan Newman, who finished 15th in points in 2010, only averaged a 15.7 place finish.)

RPM has the technical resources needed to field a competitive team.  They may not battle for the championship, but they’ll have the potential to finish in the top 20 each week.  If they get some things to go their way, maybe a finish in the top 15 of the 2011 point standings is possible.  With one voice telling the teams how to run in 2011 it’s possible that RPM will start to become significant again.

What do you think?

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The Best NASCAR Drivers for Car Numbers 49 – 30

Posted by chadmusselman on August 18, 2010

This week we take a look at the best drivers in car numbers 49 down to 30, including two of NASCAR’s greatest drivers.

Car No. 48 – Jimmie Johnson
This is one of the biggest no-brainers out there.  Jimmie has 52 career wins and has won the championship each of the last four seasons.  Since he’s been a full-time driver he’s never finished worse than 5th in the points chase.  He’s one of the best ever.

 

 

Car No. 47 – Ron Bouchard
Ron drove this car from 1981 to 1985 and won one race in 1981.  In 1982 he didn’t win a race, but managed to finish 8th in the point standings.

 

 

 

Car No. 44 – Terry Labonte
No one else has a win in car number 44.  Terry  has 6 wins in the car when he had the ride from 1979 – 1986.  From 1980 to 1985 he was always in the top ten in points, and in 1984 he had two wins and took home the championship.  He also ran a few races in the 44 in 2005.

 

 

Car No. 43 – Richard Petty
Obviously the biggest no brainer in the history of the sport.  No one is identified to a number as much as “The King”.  Car 43 will always be his.  He had 36 wins in the 43 car spanning from 1975 to 1984.  In that time he also won two championships (1975 & 1979).  He was amazing and is still the greatest NASCAR driver ever.

 

 

 

 

Car No. 42 – Kyle Petty
It’s impossible for someone to live up to Richard Petty’s standards, but Kyle had a solid NASCAR career.  While in the 42 car from 1979 to 1996 he had 6 wins and was top five in the point standings in 1992 & 1993.

 

 

Car No. 40 – Sterling Marlin
Sterling had this ride for 8 seasons and really made a name for himself.  In 2001 & 2002 he won two races and finished a career high 3rd in the point standings in 2001.  It was easily his best season in NASCAR and made him a fairly well-known driver.

 

 

Car No. 39 – Ryan Newman
Only nine drivers have been in car number 39, and Ryan is easily the best one.  Last season he finished 9th in points and so far this season he got his first win in the car.

 

 

 

Car No. 38 – Elliott Sadler
Elliott has two career wins in car 38, and in 2004 he had a dream season, making the chase, and finishing 9th in the standings.  Since then things have been a bit disappointing for him.

 

 

 

 

Car No. 33 – Harry Gant
Harry drove the 33 car from 1982 through 1994 and collected 18 wins along the way.  Early in his career, from 1982 – 1985, he finished no worse than 7th in the point standings and was second in 1984.  In 1991 he had a resurgence and won a career high five races and finished 4th in the point standings.

 

 

Car No. 32 – Ricky Craven
In the four years Ricky had this ride he didn’t do particularly well with 15th place being his best finish in the point standings, but he did manage to win two races along the way.  One in 2001 & 2003.

 

 

Car No. 31 – Jeff Burton
Jeff is our first repeat winner on the list (car 99 also).  He moved to the 31 in 2005 and is running will in it still today.  He only has 4 wins in it, but is always a threat to do well and contend for the title as he’s finished in the top ten in points in 3 of the last 4 seasons.

 

 

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Will Dale Earnhardt Jr. Ever Be Good Again? A Comparison to Kyle Petty

Posted by chadmusselman on October 1, 2009

Dale Jr.Remember the first few years of Dale Earnhardt Junior’s career when he had so much promise and potential? Everyone thought he could be just like his daddy and take over the family name and keep the winning tradition alive. In 2000, his first full season in the Sprint Cup Series, he had 2 wins. He followed that up in 2001 with 3 wins and an 8th place finish in the point standings, which was very impressive. After that he was considered a perennial contender for the Cup, and rightfully so. Standings wise he had his best year in 2003 finishing in 3rd place, and win wise 2004 was his best year collecting 6 wins and finishing 6th in the point standings. It seems to have gone down-hill since then.

There’s one other son of a legend that at one time had great promise and potential although he seemed to flame out and become irrelevant on the race track. In the eighties Kyle Petty had to try and follow in his father, The King’s, footsteps. He did have some success, but never became a top-tier driver. Will Dale Earnhardt Jr. have the same fate?

First let’s look at some numbers for Kyle Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to see how their careers are similar so far, and then we can take a look at my theory for Junior’s drop off in productivity.

Below is a table of stats for Kyle Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr. broken down by their first full 5 seasons in Sprint Cup, and their 6th thru 10th seasons in the Sprint Cup Series. (2009 is the tenth full season for Dale Jr. so his stats will only include the first 28 races.)


As you can see in their first 5 seasons Dale outperformed Kyle pretty easily, collecting a lot more wins, top fives and top tens, but more importantly having a better average start and finish position for the races, and better standing in the points at the end of the season.

In his 6th thru 10th seasons Dale Jr. had his numbers drop off dramatically. His points position is 5.5 spots worse, he has 12 fewer wins, not as many top fives and top tens, is starting the races 5 spots worse, and finishing 2 spots worse than he did in his first full 5 seasons.

This is a reverse of what Kyle Petty had done in his 6th thru 10th seasons. He did have some drop off in his average points position, but not as dramatic as Jr, and Kyle actually did better with average start and finishing position in the races, and had more wins than his first 5 seasons.

So, what does this mean for Junior? Well if Kyle is any indicator, Dale better hope next year is better or he could fall into irrelevance pretty soon. You can see Kyle’s numbers after his 10th full season (18 more seasons) and they’re not pretty. His average points position is pathetic, average finishing position for a race wasn’t even in the top 20, and after his 15th full season he never won another race. That’s 13 seasons without a win to end your career. Ouch!

Will Dale Earnhardt Jr. be that bad? I don’t know if he’d let it get to that. I think he’d retire before it gets embarrassing, but with the way this season has gone, it’s getting embarrassing quick.

So, why has Dale’s performance been so bad the past five seasons? Easy; Michael Waltrip. Michael was the perfect 2nd fiddle to Dale Earnhardt Jr. at DEI. He was there to help Dale out on the track and push him along at Talladega and Daytona. He was there to talk to Dale in the garage and build him up and give him confidence. He was the perfect teammate for Dale Earnhardt Jr. After the 2005 season Michael Waltrip left DEI to form his own team and Dale hasn’t been the same since.

Yes, there was the much publicized battle with Teresa Earnhardt to see who would have control over DEI which had to be a distraction for him, constantly being asked about the situation, but he still grossly underperformed. In 2008 when he started racing for Rick Hendrick everyone though that he’d be back to his old form. He got the best equipment and personnel to help him win. Well, we’re still waiting. One win in 64 races with Hendrick isn’t getting it done.

So why is he doing do poorly with Hendrick with all the latest technology and best equipment? No Michael Waltrip to push him. Jeff, Jimmie, and Mark are all top-tier drivers that are worried about their own championship runs and winning races. They’re not worried about building Jr. up and making him happy. He needs to be able to do that himself. They are not there to push him around the track like Michael did, they’re going to pass him and try to get the win themselves. Teammates in the garage, but on the track it’s every man for himself.

Can Jr. succeed again? Yes. He owns a team in the Nationwide series. If he can get that team running in the Sprint Cup Series and make it a two car team he’ll have a chance. He would need to be the “A” driver and have a young kid or 2nd tier veteran as his teammate that can help push him on the track and build him up in the garage. It seems that is the only kind of environment that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will thrive in.

What do you think?

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