Chrysler Crisis May Mean Pulling Petty's Plug

Rebecca SpenceCorrespondent IJune 5, 2009

FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 04:  Former NASCAR driver Richard Petty stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images for NASCAR)

As a business owner, there is nothing scarier than loss of funding. When your business is Cup Series Racing, that fear magnifies.

The rumors are flying that the Chrysler bankruptcy, and pending asset sale (which the Appeals Court refused to block) to Fiat may find the Dodge teams slimmer if not non- existent next year.

The articles fly through out the NASCAR and Automotive Communities, of the "holding pattern" in payment caused by the legal procedures in bankruptcy.

Drivers remain hopeful that they can race on Sunday, and still have a ride come Monday; the undertone from team owner Richard Petty however is not so reassuring.

In an article released by Sporting News Wire (and found on Petty voiced his concerns by stating, "we have to figure...Where is Chrysler going to go? Where are we going to be next year? We have to start planning right now for how we come out February in Daytona."

The wondering mind has to question, should the worst happen; where will the crisis leave the fan favorite drivers in the Petty stable?

Kasey Kahne, without a doubt the forerunner in the Petty camp, is contracted through the 2010 season.

The fore runner in bonus points for the RPM teams, Elliott Sadler (with 20 bonus points for laps led the season followed by Kahne with 10) is already on unstable ground after the pre-season fight to keep his ride in the No. 19.

The teams of Allmendinger and Sorenson have surprised the ranks of more experienced drivers with their strong performances so far this season.

Each of the four have done all they can do to advance. With the new R6 engines being implemented, how will the funding being held affect the ultimate outcome?

Mike Accavitti (director of Marketing and Strategy for Chrysler) has been quoted on several articles as having acknowledged the cash flow issues being raised by the reorganizations.

Accavitti said in a statement to Sporting News, "The amount of engineering and technical services, along with supply of racing components we provide to the Dodge factory-backed teams has not changed. NASCAR remains a strategic part of our marketing plan and the Dodge brand...We have commitments to the sport and our teams and plan to continue our sponsorship into the foreseeable future."

But how long will that foreseeable future be? An estimated $125 million a year is spent by each manufacturer on NASCAR. Is Fiat planning to keep the cash flowing?

Ponder this, if you will:

NASCAR has limited the real R&D value that comes out of the Cup Series. In a sport that has changed so much that the make and model stickers on the cars have become little more than hood ornaments, why would a floundering manufacturer stretch it's means to continue their 6 figure support?

Detroit says that COT or not NASCAR is still a large factor in the sales of domestic cars sales! Peter Delorenzo, publisher of the website, disagrees says USA Today.

Delorenzo was quoted in an article as saying, "Detroit is spending a lot of money to preach to the choir." NASCAR fans already buy domestic cars and trucks.

With all the news and rumors, what can a team like RPM really do? The King himself said it best, "we aren't giving up, by any means. With the new engine deals, we're going to really, really work hard to get ourselves into a better position for next year."