NASCAR Nation is on the verge of saying goodbye to Petty Enterprises. The famous team with the famous owner and former driver, Richard Petty, released Bobby Labonte from all team and sponsorship ties Thursday and is negotiating with Gillette-Evernham Racing to field the 43 car next year.
Economic forces caused PE to join with Boston Ventures to infuse the race team with cash, but it wasn’t enough to stop the collapse of the storied team.
PE has been on a decline since Richard Petty stopped driving. Let’s be real here, Kyle Petty just isn’t that good. Don’t get me wrong, the man does wonderful thing for the community and the Victory Junction Gang is awesome, but Kyle is not his daddy.
Kyle drove for PE way too long meaning PE couldn’t get top tier sponsorships.
PE stayed in Level Cross, away from Charlotte, the defacto home town of NASCAR for too long, only moving last year to the area.
PE was slow to employ the latest technology. I don’t think they ever picked up a 7-post.
And then there’s Dodge. In the modern era Dodge has always been on the second shelf, never the top shelf because of a lack of cooperation.
This is what Petty said just before the 2008 season ending race at Miami-Homestead:
“I think you look at who has been successful [in recent years], and Roush has seven or eight cars he’s working with; Hendrick has six or seven that he’s been working with; even Gibbs has had some other deals they’ve been working with,” Petty said of the alliances Roush Fenway has with Yates Racing, Hendrick has had with what soon will operate as Stewart-Haas Racing, and Gibbs has enjoyed with other Toyota-backed teams.
“It’s hard to compete with that. You look at the Dodge teams, and you’ve got four teams that have been totally independent. We’ve not thrown our stuff into the middle of the pot, like the other teams have done, and tried to work through things together. Hopefully, we can do that next year.”
“We’re losing one Dodge team for sure [in Ganassi], and I don’t know about a couple of the rest of us. I just don’t know,” Petty said then. “But, hopefully, we can all get together over in a corner somewhere and get our act together. We need to say, ‘Hey, instead of all of us Dodge guys working independently, maybe we can get together as a group and make this work.’ That would make for Dodge teams that are a lot stronger.”
Interesting and prophetic, huh?
So PE’s 45 car is gone, the 43 is going to GEM, Chip Ganassi Racing’s 40 is gone, and his 41 and 42 cars will be Chevy’s at DEI-Ganassi.
All this doesn’t sit well with Kurt Busch.
“I’ve always thought more is better. If you’ve got more Dodge cars on the track, you’ve got more opportunities to win,” Busch said. “But you want quality within those teams. We hope there may be an opportunity for some other team to come over to Dodge. That at least gives you the positive feeling that you’re moving in the right direction.”
Well, Dodge teams aren’t moving in the right direction.
RIP Petty Enterprises. But don’t worry, more Dodge teams will soon follow.