Elliott Sadler to Drive Ford at Talladega for RPM

Jim BobCorrespondent IOctober 26, 2009

MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 25:  Elliott Sadler, driver of the #19 Best Buy Dodge, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 25, 2009 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

In the midst of finalizing a merger with Yates Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports will race a Ford powered car at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend, the team announced Monday.

Elliott Sadler will become the first driver to ever drive a Ford in the history of Richard Petty Motorsports before he will switch back to a Dodge, the team's current manufacturer, for the final three races of the season at Texas, Phoenix and Miami.

Sadler drove in a Ford with Yates Racing in 2003-2005 before coming to what is now Richard Petty Motorsports and the No. 19 team.  All of Sadler's three Sprint Cup Series wins came in a Ford, with his last being in 2006 at California.

“Richard Petty Motorsports is working with Ford Racing as we get ready to make the full-time switch at Daytona in 2010," Sadler said. "Since this is the final restrictor plate race of the season, we made the decision to run a  Ford to get some work done in advance. This will be our first time to practice and work on a Fusion under real race conditions. It should help us get ready to make a strong showing at Daytona and put us in the best position to start next season. I’ll be back in a Dodge at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead, but since it’s important to start a season off on the right foot we thought we’d try to get a head start.”

Richard Petty Motorsports announced that they signed a letter of intent on September 10th with Yates Racing to merge.  While an official merger plan of the two teams has not been officially agreed upon, the team has confirmed that they will field the NASCAR-maximum of four cars next year.  All of which will be Fords.

Upon the finalization of the merger, this will be the second consecutive year that a Richard Petty owned team has merged.  In January of this year, what was Petty Enterprises merged with Gillett Evernham Motorsports to form the current Richard Petty Motorsports.

April 14, 1985 was the last time a Ford owned by Petty hit the track.  Morgan Sheppard drove it to an 18th place finish at Darlington.

The last time Petty drove a Ford was Dec. 2, 1969 at Texas World Speedway.  Petty recorded nine wins, 29 top-five and 36 top-10 finishes in a Ford in 48 starts.