Friday, January 09, 2009

Sadler To Drive #19, After All

In the aftermath of last night's announcement of the impending merger of Gillett-Evernham Motorsports and Petty Enterprises, Elliott Sadler will remain in the seat of the #19 Dodge, after all.

Just days after Sadler’s attorney threatened legal action to block his removal from the ride, GEM CEO Tom Reddin has confirmed that Sadler will remain in the #19 full-time in 2009, with AJ Allmendinger bumped to part-time status in the team's #10 Dodge.

Reddin told Sirius NASCAR Radio today, "In my family, every now and then we have our differences. But we get those settled and resolved and we move on. We had some differences with Elliott, but we're a family and we have everything resolved. It's all settled and we're moving forward, full bore."

Reddin also confirmed that the team is working on a deal with Allmendinger, who drove the No. 10 Dodge in the final five Cup races of last season.

"We have always wanted to add a fourth car," said Reddin, "and we have at least an eight-race package for that for 2009. We have sponsors for four cars for Daytona, and we were very impressed with AJ. We hope we can work it out and get four cars on the track at least part of the time."

Allmendinger’s business manager, Tara Ragan, told’s Tom Bowles yesterday that Allmendinger is not yet under contract with GEM, and remains a free agent. She said that there was never any discussion about Allmendinger replacing Sadler, and sources tell Sirius Speedway that GEM led Allmendinger to believe that Sadler's contractual situation had already been dealt with, leaving the #19 car vacant for 2009.

Ragan told that Allmendinger is simply looking for a team that will give him a competitive, long-term ride, and is not interested in taking anyone else’s job.

The announcement that the new GEM/Petty team will field a fourth car in next month's Budweiser Shootout means that Penske Racing and driver Sam Hornish will not be a part of the season-opening event. It now appears that Dodge's Bud Shootout roster will consist of Kahne in the #9 Budweiser car, David Stremme in Penske Racing’s Alltel #12, Kurt Busch in the Miller Lite #2, Sadler in the #19, Reed Sorenson in the #43 and Allmendinger in the #10.

There was no mention of sponsorship for either the Sadler or Allmendinger entries, aside from the statement that “GEM and Petty sponsors will continue with the new organization.”

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