NASCAR Sprint Cup: Richard Petty Motorsports' Collapse Shakes Up Silly Season

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NASCAR Sprint Cup: Richard Petty Motorsports' Collapse Shakes Up Silly Season
Courtesy of www.pettyracing.com

At this time last week it appeared as if everything would be stable for the final five races of the Sprint Cup Series season.

Kasey Kahne would finish the year in the No. 9 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports before leaving for Team Red Bull next season, while Marcos Ambrose would stay in the No. 47 Toyota while waiting to take over Kahne's old seat. AJ Allmendinger would have a ride for next season, and Elliott Sadler would be on the outside looking in.

It's amazing how much can change in the span of a week.

After refusing to stay at Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday night while his team made repairs, Kahne was released by RPM Wednesday. Almost immediately, it was announced that the Washington native would replace Reed Sorenson in the No. 83 Toyota for the remainder of the 2010 season and would likely replace Scott Speed in the No. 82 for 2011.

Meanwhile, Fox Sports reported that Richard Petty Motorsports owed Roush Fenway Racing and Roush Yates Engines an undisclosed amount for the use of engines and cars from their operation. The sum was later revealed by Sirius Speedway to be at least $10 million.

While the team will run at Martinsville this weekend and Talladega next weekend—with Aric Almirola behind the wheel of the No. 9 Ford—the team's future remains very much in doubt.

Also in doubt is the future of both AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose in the Sprint Cup Series. Allmendinger signed a multi-year deal in August to drive the No. 43 Ford, while Ambrose signed a similar deal with RPM to drive the No. 9.

There are no competitive rides available for next season at this point, so both drivers may become a victim of bad business dealings by George Gillett's operation.

Another aspect to the situation is the fact that if RPM shuts down after Talladega, the final three races of the season could run without a full field for the first time since the fall New Hampshire race in 2001.

At this point, that may be the case for most of the 2011 season as well.

What are your thoughts on the situation? Comment below.

Ryan Papaserge is a junior Journalism/Mass Communication student at St. Bonaventure University and a writing intern at Bleacher Report.

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