Richard Petty Says Kenny Francis May Leave RPM

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Richard Petty Says Kenny Francis May Leave RPM
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Dustin Long is reporting that, during a Concord commercial shoot with the No. 43 of A.J. Allmendinger, Richard Petty was quoted as saying that Richard Petty Motorsports has left it up to Kenny Francis to decide his future, but that no decision had yet been communicated.

Francis' is the crew chief for the No. 9's Kasey Kahne, of course, and there is rampant speculation as to whether Francis was likely to stay at RPM or head over to Red Bull Racing, where Kasey will be spending the 2011 season in preparation for the 2012 move over to the No. 5 at Hendrick Motorsports.

On the surface, this certainly seems to be a no-brainer. I can't imagine Francis would have much interest in staying at what now appears to be a two-car operation (Petty was also quoted as saying that RPM would be at two cars unless "sponsorship fell from the sky"), when he has had such success with Kahne.

The two have also forged a personal bond in their years through devastating times at what was Evernham Motorsports, then Gillett Evernham Motorsports, and finally its recent incarnation as RPM.

However, a lot may depend on what those 2012 plans fully involve and what contracts state to which we are not privy. What if Hendrick has a crew chief already lined up for 2012 and it's not Francis?

No matter the case, I can't imagine a situation in which Francis falls by the wayside. He will be a highly sought-after crew chief, with or without Kahne.

Earlier this year, it was his input that Jack Roush and Carl Edwards (among other Roush drivers) credited with helping turn around the results at Roush Racing.

Expect Francis to follow Kahne to RBR, and don't be surprised if they rack up a few more wins along the way to becoming Hendrick's next star.

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