Q and A: Loomis Talks About RPM’s Future
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
The future of Richard Petty Motorsports has been a hot topic around NASCAR.
Top driver Kasey Kahne parted company with the team this week. Team owners George and Foster Gillett are reported to be having financial problems.
There have been rumors that RPM is on the edge of closing its doors – perhaps as early as next week.
On Saturday, Robbie Loomis, director of competition at RMP, met with the media at Martinsville Speedway to take questions on the subject.
Loomis said the team intends to keep racing but he could not guarantee that it would.
Here is the complete transcript of that meeting with the media:
Opening statement: “First of all, I want to thank Kasey. Kasey did a great job for us and if you look at the banners in the shop, a lot of them are there from Kasey and I really wish him well in his new deal. I think that started a lot of the stir and speculation throughout the whole week, but we’ve been working really hard and everyone is working hard. I couldn’t be prouder of the job the guys have done with the Aric Almirola seat change on Thursday at the last minute, and we’re just looking forward to continuing into 2011 and finishing this year up strong. I’ve heard a lot of things about our relationship with Roush and Roush has been great to us. They’ve been a great sponsor, a great provider and work for us in a lot of different ways to help us from the engine shop side with Doug Yates has been amazing. If there’s anything I have not felt good about is they had three cars make the Chase and we didn’t. That’s up to us to get our program better, but I think Robbie Reiser and the whole organization over there has always done everything we’ve wanted. They work really hard to provide good cars for us.”
Question: Is this team going to finish the season?
Loomis: “I think it’s our full intention to go forward. Like I said, most of the things we’ve been working on throughout the week is, ‘What do we look like in 2011? What’s our driver lineup look like the rest of the year since we lost Kasey?’ I told the guys yesterday, I sat back at lunch and said, ‘Look, this is no different than running a race when you’re a crew chief. I’ve been right here at Martinsville leading a race and all of a sudden hit a pothole and you’ve got to figure out what to do and how to react to it and move forward.’ That’s what we’re looking forward to do with Richard Petty Motorsports. I think a lot of people have their thoughts and prayers with Richard. He’s dealing with Lynda and she’s going through some issues and Richard is with her. His thoughts are with her. We might see Richard up here tomorrow. As you guys know, he usually comes to Martinsville on Sunday, but right now he’s spending a lot of time with Lynda.”
Question: What gives you confidence you can move forward this year and next?
Loomis: “Like I said before, there’s been a lot of speculation about a lot of things, there always has been in this sport, but what gives me confidence is that we’ve always had the ability to move forward. We do our best today. I was thinking riding up the road this morning with Dale (Inman) and I said, ‘You can’t look too far out in the future because today is all that we really have,’ and many of you know that from being around this sport.”
Question: Any decision on if Aric Almirola will remainin the car past this weekend?
Loomis: “Most of the things we’ve been working on has been our models for 2011 and what our race teams look like moving forward. Aric is somebody we were looking at to drive for us next year and the timing of it didn’t work out and come together, so he got the deal with Dale Jr’s Nationwide deal, which is a great opportunity for him and a strong organization. For us, we had Marcos Ambrose come available and we’re real excited about AJ and Marcos as we go into next season. All of the drivers have really stepped up. I know AJ met with all the guys yesterday and have really been team leaders. I called Marcos last night and putting a good qualifying lap up there was encouraging for that, to
Question: Have their been any changes on the team?
Loomis: “There hasn’t been any change. Max Jones, our president, has been working really hard with the Roush crowd and everybody on the plans for the future. I think it’s been a collective effort. The only change we’ve really had is Kasey and his spotter, Cole. I like Cole, Cole is a great spotter for Kasey, those are the two guys that are gone.”
Question: The Gillett’s still own the team?
Loomis: “Yes. The Gillett’s, they’ve been through a lot obviously – everyone knows that. They’ve worked really hard to be a four-car team last year and continue it this year, and now we’ve got to look at what our teams are gonna look like going into next year.”
Question: You’ll be in Talladega?
Loomis: “Yeah, we’ll be at Talladega. I hope we’re all in Talladega. It’s our full intention to keep rolling right along.
Question: Is it true The King is trying to get a group of investors together and gain more control of the organization?
Loomis: “I don’t want to speculate on anything like that. Like I said, there are a lot of people working collectively together to make this thing more successful as we go forward in the future. Like Richard said when he came down on Thursday, he said, ‘Look guys, we’re in the same business. We’re trying to provide winning race cars and give them to AJ Allmendinger and Elliott Sadler and our drivers that are driving the cars today, so the game hasn’t changed. It’s the same thing we’re doing.’”No Comment