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Posted on: October 21, 2010 1:08 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2010 1:21 pm
At first glance Kasey Kahne's early exit from Richard Petty Motorsports isn't that big of a surprise. Kahne isn't the first driver to leave an organization before his contract officially expires to get a jump on next season. We've seen several high-profile drivers in recent years make an early exodus from their lame duck status in attempt to get a head start on the next phase of their careers.

But dig a little deeper and the story reveals some bigger issues and the potential for disaster at Richard Petty Motorsports. Kahne's unhappiness with the organization, which came to a head after last Saturday night's race in Charlotte when he left the track after crashing with Sam Hornish Jr. but not before voicing his frustration about what he believed to be inferior equipment and the lack of leadership within the team, was something made known months prior.

When Kahne signed an unprecedented agreement to join Hendrick Motorsports two years down the road in 2012, he vowed to give his total effort to RPM and the No. 9 ride before exiting. And indeed there were times when Kahne and the team looked to be on the same page with results to prove it, most recently a fourth place finish in Fontana two weeks ago.

However more often than not Kahne was saddled with equipment issues including a series of brake failures that finally seemed to add up to last Saturday's explosion. 

All along Kahne has insinuated his team may not have had the resources originally promised. It seems he may be right on target with that assessment.

No sooner was Kahne's official release from the team announced before information about the financial instability of RPM began to surface. Money issues with team co-owner George Gillett, who is also involved in the contentious sale and purchase of Liverpool Football Club of the English Premier League, have apparently leaked down into the Petty operation. The financial strain is so severe, there were reports that Roush Fenway Racing, which through a partnership agreement supplies equipment to RPM, has halted its assembly line and after Martinsville the Petty stable would dry up.

It now appears the team is safe through Talladega but after that, all bets are off.

With this swirling whirlwind of negativity, it's no wonder Kahne's level of comfort was off even with just five races remaining on his deal. 

Since what is currently known as Richard Petty Motorsports was founded by former championship-winning crew chief Ray Evernham in 2000, the organization has gone through what seems like a yearly reshuffling. Gillett came in for a partnership in 2007, after a failed deal with the Boston Ventures Company did not yield any additional funding or sponsorships, and since then the team has restructured several times to its current four car lineup.

That was supposed to contract to a two-car effort in 2011 with A.J. Allmendinger signed to continue driving the iconic No. 43 entry and Marcos Ambrose set to take Kahne's spot in the 9 ride. Sponsorship was reported to be in place for that effort.

However the recent turn of events has many wondering if there will even be a RPM entity next year with several sources reporting many team employees have been inquiring about opportunities with other organizations.

No one from RPM has publicly commented on the proceedings other than the official release which was distributed late Wednesday evening announcing Kahne's exit. Kahne will address the assembled media Friday afternoon at Martinsville.

Perhaps he will shed some light on what for now appears to be a very dark situation.

Since: Mar 1, 2007
Posted on: October 22, 2010 2:49 pm

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In any business, if there is a lack of leadership, it is up to the best performers to lead, if just leading by example. Kahne is and always was a little beeyatch. Him crying about lack of leadership is another example of him being a little baby. He needed to lead by example. When your #1 product is whining, the team will suffer.

 I dont even watch anymore. Can you imagine if the NFL had owners with multiple teams? NASCAR has become lame. And, they wonder why TV rating are down.

Since: Sep 13, 2010
Posted on: October 22, 2010 2:43 pm

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No Petty in NASCAR. What's next? No fenders?

Since: Sep 17, 2007
Posted on: October 22, 2010 12:37 pm

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So let me get this straight...The co-owner of the club sells the club for a specific amount and then looks to sue the buyers because they got swindled?  Didnt they have to ok the price if they were co-owners?  Wouldn't they have to say....477 million...SOLD.  How can you sell the team and tehn claim you were swindled when you own the team.  Shouldn't you know the value of your asset?  Maybe that is why RPM is going in the tank!  With those kind of business skills my goodness.  Did it go to an arbtrator or something...Can some explain how the owners can sell yet sue for being "undervalued"?  Did John W. Henry have a gun to Gillett's head forcing him to sign the papers?  Help please

Since: Sep 2, 2009
Posted on: October 22, 2010 10:44 am

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Every team in Nascar is struggling to find sponsorship, even the mighty Hendrick team has had issues with this problem. As it pertains to RMP though, they must have enough money to continue for the remainder of the season, Budweiser isn't exactly screaming poverty. And Kahne while complaining (as usual) about his equipment, which has been good enough to qualify well and win a race occasionally. Which is a lot more than some other teams can say. So, really, what's Kahne's problem?
What should be more concerning to Nascar and for the good of the sport is that they're getting their wish to have only 5 or 6 owners. And that can't be good for the sport. And now, if some reports are to be believed, Red Bull might be switching to Chevy with equipment to be supplied by none other than Hendrick. At some point the entire field will be made up of mostly Hendrick-built Chevys, a small team of Ford, and a couple of Toyotas...
Can this be good for the sport? Somehow I don't think so. 

Since: Oct 29, 2009
Posted on: October 21, 2010 5:23 pm
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Since: Aug 4, 2009
Posted on: October 21, 2010 4:15 pm

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That pretty much sums it up.  The EPL will suck money away like a 16-yo with daddy's credit card.  Meanwhile the goverment motors team must be laughing thier tails off.

Since: Feb 22, 2007
Posted on: October 21, 2010 3:44 pm

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It will be interesting to see how the equipment deal fallout between Roush Fenway Racing and RPM is resolved.

There is the problem with the Liverpool Football Club.  Gillett was trying to sell it and the group that also is partner with Roush Fenway is the new owner of Liverpool Football Club. 

"The recent developments come just weeks after Roush Fenway Racing co-owner John W. Henry’s New England Sport Ventures acquired the debt-riddled Liverpool Football Club of the Premier League, which is co-owned by Gillett, on Oct. 6 for $477 million. After the sale was complete, however, Gillett and his business partner Tom Hicks threatened to sue NESV for damages of at least $1.6 billion for “an extraordinary swindle" because they felt the team was undervalued in the sale" -Lee Spencer

So in effect the owner of RPM is suing the partner of RFR.

Ford Racing must be throwing up their hands right now in disbelief.  What else can go wrong this year?

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