Eight Richard Petty Motorsports Fords scheduled to compete this weekend at Phoenix international Raceway remain at Texas Motor Speedway today, waiting to be paid for so they can be released to travel to PIR. Reliable sources tell Sirius Speedway that as of 3 PM ET today, the cars sit on an unmarked, white Roush Fenway Racing transporter in a parking lot at Texas Motor Speedway. Alongside sit the respective Richard Petty Motorsports transporters, empty and waiting for permission to load the cars and begin their drive from Fort Worth to Avondale, Arizona.
“The plan was to take RPM’s Phoenix cars to Texas and hold them there until the check cleared,” said a source close to the situation, speaking on the condition on anonymity. “The money was supposed to be there Monday, but that didn’t happen. It didn’t happen again yesterday, and everyone’s still there today, on hold. Everyone knew this was going to happen before they left for Texas. Our hands are tied and there’s nothing we can do but wait.”
A representative for Richard Petty Motorsports said early this afternoon, “(The transporters) are headed to Phoenix. We’re all scheduled to leave as planned tomorrow morning. Nothing has changed.” Federal regulations allow transporter drivers to drive for only 10 hours before getting 10 hours of rest. It is approximately 18 hours from Texas to Phoenix, and teams are required to sign in at the track at 7:45 AM ET (5:45 AM local) on Friday.
A similar situation occurred last week, when RPM’s Texas cars were withheld by Roush Fenway until late Wednesday, pending payment. “The #9 and #98 trucks loaded up and left last week before they had been cleared to go, and that created a big issue,” said a second RPM source. “The #43 and #19 cars were finally released at 4 PM last Wednesday, but until then, there was considerable doubt whether Richard Petty Motorsports was going to race in Texas at all. Now, they’re right back in the same situation. The transporter drivers are sitting in Texas, waiting to find out if they’re heading to Phoenix, or back to North Carolina.”
Richard Petty Motorsports employees have been required to work on their cars at Roush Fenway Racing in recent weeks, since Roush will not release the cars until they are paid for. RPM faces other financial obligations in the near future. The team is scheduled to make winnings and retainer payments to each of its drivers on the 15th of this month.
UPDATE: RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS TOOK DELIVERY OF ITS PHOENIX CARS JUST AFTER 3 PM ET WEDNESDAY, AND ITS TRANSPORTERS ARE EN ROUTE TO PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY.