Speaking in an interview with ESPN.com driver Ricky Stenhouse talked about the possibilities for 2012. Stenhouse mentioned that he hoped to run a full Nationwide schedule and mentioned that Richard Petty Motorsports was looking for sponsorship for a third car. A third car that could perhaps be ran part time by Stenhouse.
The relationship between Roush Fenway Racing and the other Ford teams on the circuit is nothing new. In reality all of those teams get some or all of their equipment from them. This year Trevor Bayne was given a part time gig as the driver of the #21 car of the Wood Brothers. He went on to win the Daytona 500 in only his second career start.
A similar marriage appears to be growing for next year with Stenhouse driving part time for the King. This wouldn’t be the first time the two organizations shared a driver. Paul Menard was under contract to Richard Petty Motorsports to run the Cup schedule in 2010 when he also ran the Nationwide schedule in a Roush machine.
Richard Petty Motorsports needs a driver like Stenhouse far more then they even needed the dollars when Menard drove for them in 2010. No offense meant to their current lineup of AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose but neither driver is a threat to win, save Ambrose on the road courses, and neither driver figures to be much of one going forward.
Right now Allmendinger is 17th in the points, Ambrose 23rd and it’s hard to argue that either is any better then that. Allmendinger has appeared on the verge of contending for a win a few times this year. With David Ragan and Paul Menard finally scoring their first career Cup win is indeed be the best driver on the circuit without a win, aside from Ambrose the next higher point ranked driver without a single Cup win is David Gilliland in 30th.
Ambrose has 3 top-5 finishes this year and 6 top-10’s those numbers keep him at pace with the rest of the 11th-20th crowd. When the series heads to Sonoma or Watkins Glen you would be wise to keep an eye on Ambrose but when he has a good run on an oval you will find yourself caught off guard.
Adding Stenhouse is a must for this group. Richard Petty hasn’t been in victory lane with an actual Petty car since Kasey Kahne at the 2009 fall race in Atlanta. Sure he got to stand there this year at Daytona since he gave the car owner points to the Wood Brothers to guarantee Bayne’s entry but that wasn’t his car. There is a huge difference between getting to victory lane and simply standing there.
At some point the folks over at Petty have to want to get back to victory lane. If they want more sponsorship dollars they need to run better. To run better they need better drivers.
Clint Bowyer’s name had been thrown around by the Petty brass a few times since he was on the market. Bowyer wants to resign with Richard Childress Racing for obvious reasons. He’s competitive, it’s stable and it’s better then Richard Petty Motorsports. Better in terms of cars, people and drivers.
Richard Petty could take the steps to fixing these problems and by signing a young hot foot like Stenhouse would put a definitive check in the driver category. While Stenhouse may still be a Roush driver by contract it would be a win for all parties involved. It gives Petty the much needed up and comer and it gives Roush and Stenhouse seat time for him which will only help him in his Cup career.
With no room at the inn for Stenhouse in 2012 this is the best case scenario for him. Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle have been resigned and Matt Kenseth and David Ragan are under contract for 2012.
Here’s to hoping that the folks over at Petty Motorsports are able to put something together to make this happen.