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Petty Welcomes An Old Friend Back To Cup

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, June 3 2011

Richard Petty pulled up to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in the STP-sponsored No. 43 car last year. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Kansas City, Kan. – A couple of weeks ago, Carl Edwards was handed a check for well over a million dollars for winning the Sprint All-Star Race.

A million bucks for winning one race. Richard Petty remembers the days when he could have ran his entire team for four full seasons with that kind of money.

Those days would have been in 1972, to be exact. Petty talked about that year and how far a racing dollar went back then on Friday morning at Kansas Speedway. The occasion was STP’s return as a major sponsor in NASCAR.

It was STP, then a relatively-small manufacturer of engine lubrication fluids, that not only gave Petty and his NASCAR team a check for $250,000 in sponsorship money, but also changed the way the sport was financed. The company became the first and certainly best known corporate primary sponsor of a race car.

“It broke a lot of ice for a lot of other people to come in,” Petty said.

The relationship between the team and the company got off to a bit of a rocky start, Petty said.

“They wanted red” as the primary color of the car, The King said, “and we wanted blue.”

Team and owner compromised and the result was the iconic day-glo red and “Petty blue” livery that will be on Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 car this weekend in the STP 400 at Kansas.

STP stepped away from massive involvement in the sport over the years. First, because of rising costs and second, because the company was taken over by a conglomerate which had little interest in motorsports.

“They were bought out by a salad dressing company or whatever,” Petty said.

STP recently became the property of the auto-care products company which produces Armor All. John Paluga, vice president of marketing for Armored Auto Group, said getting back on tracks has become a focus of STP.

Pat Warren, president of Kansas Speedway, said getting STP as a race sponsor is a great fit for his track.

Warren said, the 11-year-old track is “trying to build traditions” and the STP brand will help in that big time.

NASCAR officials announced that they are changing the qualifying procedures in its top three professional series.

The changes will be in effect in the Camping World Trucks and Nationwide series this weekend at Kansas Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway respectively. They will be used in the Cup series beginning at Pocono next weekend.

Under the new procedure, qualifying order will be determined by the driver’s fastest lap in first practice. The times on the speed sheet will be inverted with the slowest cars attempting their qualifying runs first.

The go-or-go-home cars will now qualify among the 35 teams locked in on owner points and not be separated by the field.

Phoenix Racing announced Friday that the No. 51 will replace the No. 09 on the roof and sides of the team’s cars for the remainder of the Cup season.

“The number change was something we’ve thought about for a while,” said James Finch, team owner. “Being in their home state of our sponsor Security Benefit, this is a great time to roll it out.  This was our original number when we first came to NASCAR and it’s great to have it back in our stable.”

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, June 3 2011
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  • Terry says:

    Good to see the old 21 and 43 colors again ……reminds me of better days in NASCAR…..