Richard Petty Motorsports' offseason move

Reid Spencer - NASCAR Wire Service Friday, Jan 30 2037

Having established its own research-and-development and engineering departments last year, Richard Petty Motorsports has continued its move toward greater independence from its status as a Roush Fenway Racing customer.

An offseason move to an 80,000-square-foot facility in Mooresville, North Carolina has given RPM the ability to hang its own bodies and to hire 35 new employees. Team owner Richard Petty says the organization plans to start building its own chassis, with the transition expected in the middle of the season.

Last year, RPM purchased its bodies and chassis from Roush Fenway and its engines from Roush Yates Racing, which supplies all Ford teams in the Sprint Cup garage with power.

“We’re really excited,” said RPM’s Director of Competition Sammy Johns. “We were able to add 35 new employees and still have a great working relationship with Roush Fenway Racing on the engineering side of things, and we’re looking forward to that.

“I think this model has shown that you can win championships with it. There are other organizations out there working under these type of models and they’ve been able to win championships (notably Stewart-Haas Racing, a Hendrick Motorsports customer for chassis and engines). We got a taste of victory last year and a taste of the Chase, and we’re excited to build on that and take it forward this year.”

Aric Almirola, driving the vaunted No. 43 Ford, won the July race at Daytona last year and qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. This year, former Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. joins the team as the driver of the No. 9 Ford, replacing road course ace Marcos Ambrose.

In a question-and-answer session with reporters, Petty expanded on RPM’s long-range goals.

“We’ve got all the stuff now to do our own bodies and our own finish work,” Petty said. “That’s a start. We’ve got the equipment and the room up there now to start doing our own chassis. I think we’ll start doing that maybe in the middle of the year, something like that, but right now we’re just going into the body part.

“Our first cars coming off the runway will be from Roush, because we’ve been busy moving all winter. It’ll be a transition from being totally with Roush to 90 percent, 80 percent, 70 percent and work our way out.”