Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gillett-Petty merger apparently complete

While no official announcement has been made, all signs point to the fact that the merger between Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Petty Enterprises is done.

Sources close to the Petty team said Wednesday that all of its employees who were not let go in a round of layoffs earlier this month have been told this is their final official week of employment with that company.

It appears that seven-time Cup Series champion Richard Petty will have an ownership piece along with George Gillett in a company to most likely will be called Richard Petty Motorsports.

That company will field the No. 43 Dodges, likely out of the GEM shops in Statesville and likely with Reed Sorenson as its driver. In effect, what was the No. 10 team at Gillett-Evernham Motorsports will become the No. 43 team.

Boston Ventures, the company that bought majority ownership of the Petty team earlier in 2008, will keep the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

When the Petty team announced that Bobby Labonte was being let out of his driver contract, it said it was in exclusive merger talks with GEM. Spokesman for both the GEM and Petty teams continued Wednesday to decline comment about the status of those negotiations.

Some will see such a merger as the end of the Petty family’s era in NASCAR – an era that goes all the way back to the first race in 1949 in what is now the Sprint Cup Series. But the Petty family technically hasn’t owned a NASCAR team since the deal was cut with Boston Ventures.

GEM has Budweiser as a full-season sponsor for Kasey Kahne in the No. 9 Dodge. It had Best Buy and Stanley Tools as primary sponsors for the No. 19 Dodges that Elliott Sadler drove in 2008. While no official word has come down on this, either, it appears that AJ Allmendinger will replace Sadler in that car for 2009.

Sorenson, who drove for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in 2008, signed to drive for GEM in 2009. It was believed he would go into the No. 10, in which Patrick Carpentier began and Allmendinger finished the ’08 season. That car had sponsorship announced for only a handful of races, however. The No. 43 car from the Petty team lacked full sponsorship for 2009 as well.


Anonymous said...

2009 is shaping up to be a "Very, Very Weird and Surprising Year."

Just wait for the ramifications of the continuously empty stands.....

Wonder if Elliott Sadler feels like the 'm & m's' felt after he, so unceremoniously, left them.

What next.........?

Anonymous said...

Please, Please,put A.J. in the 43.Let Sorensen go back to legend cars. Please, Please.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Poole, I sure would be interested in your thoughts (guess) on why Elliott Sadler ended up as the odd-man out at PE-GEM, rather than Sorensen. It seems to me that Elliott is much more outgoing and marketable and as good a driver as Sorensen. Could it be that Elliott is too obviously Southern? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The good old days of NASCAR are gone! Racing in Miami...forced diversity. Old small southern town tracks long a thing of the past. So long NASCAR...bring me back the one Tom Higgins wrote about.

Knude said...

Budweiser on the ole 43 someday? What about that promise to mom?

Anonymous said...

Yup.....That "forced diversity" is a terrible thing.

Nowadays, going to races means seeing people with full sets of teeth, those not prone to inbreeding and men and women who can compose full sentences and speak them without drool puddling from the sides of their tobacco filled jaws.

Yup......diversity. We sure don't want no Blacks, Mexicans, Asians or anything not lily white pure Southerner.

Yup....Forced Diversity ruined NASCAR. WE WANT THOSE GOOD OL' DAYS BACK!

p.s. Sadler got fired because of non-performance.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Poole,

I know you get all sorts of comments about what a lazy journalist you are and how you just look at other websites and write what they write.... well I hate to disappoint you but this is NOT one of those postings. I like to think you filter a lot of the junk and bring us facts. If it is not a fact, you honestly let us know it's a rumor or your opinion. Darn shame more "journalists" don't to the same.

While I don't always agree with what you say, thank you for writing an almost daily column on what is going on.

Have a happy new year and keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Could it be that Elliott is too obviously Southern?

Please, Sorensen is way more southern than Sadler.After all he is from Georgie, while Sadler is from Virginie.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe this is the end of the failing NASCAR teams.

Anonymous said...

The difference is that Elliott sounds Southern, talks about Southern pursuits like hunting, and is much more outgoing. To be real honest, I haven't heard Sorensen talk enough to recall whether he has a distinctive accent or not, despite his being from (I believe) Peach-something GA. What I'm talking about is perception and the anti-Southern bias in some of TV and the Eastern media.

MrSmith said...

If these guys were really cool, they would name the new team Ever(nham)Petty.

Anonymous said...

Please folks, Dale Jr sounds and looks VERY southern. When he left DEI, he was the most sought after driver.

Forbes and other publications have Jr. the leading driver in merchandise sales. I think bias is the other way around. It's fans from the south who diss drivers who are not like them, even though these drivers may be VERY talented. . Take Jimmie and Jeff, who have 7 Cup championships and yet still booed.

Sorenson has been getting better and Sadler has been going down. I like Sadler, but this is business and the survival depends on performance, and Sadler has not done well recently. I do wish him well.

Anonymous said...

Richard in NC - Do you have any actual evidence of the anti-Southern bias thing? Because Reed sounds pretty Southern to me.

My own opinion - this was based on driving, or at least potential driving. Sadler's personality makes him a better marketing asset whether he's Southern or not. But he hasn't accomplished much on the track in several years with competitive equipment and is past the age where he can be expected to improve a lot. Sorensen is young enough to still have some potential upside.

Anonymous said...

It's a sad thing that we will lose Petty Enterprises, Bill Davis Racing, and others... However, if you think about's not any different in racing than it is in the real world. The corporate people has priced themselves out of the market!

Anonymous said...

I think that part of the Reed/Ellott decision also had to do with the sponsor. Reed's sponsor is the Air Force. That makes sense. Reed is a 22 year old that can influence that market.

Elliott is 33-34 but looks older that Jeff Gordon. I don't think he would be a good marketing choice for the Air Force.

Anonymous said...

Much as I'm an Sadler of sorts I believe that Sorenson is far cheaper to the organization and has a better future potential. As in any sport great players such as the Petty's come and will eventually be replaced by other great players. I realize it's a sad time for those of us 'older' generation folks who grew up with the Petty's, Allisons, Pearsons etc... but our kids now have their own heros; we just don't see them as our heros.

Anonymous said...

Although I am very sad that Petty Enterprises is going by the wayside I am very thankful to see my favorite 43 on the track in 2009. I'm sure Richard did the best he could with this deal because this was his family's life business. Good luck Reed in the ICONIC 43....

Anonymous said...

Lack of talent and Karma bit Sadler.(or a relative of Ricky Rudd/Robert Yates/The Wood Brothers got a job at GEM)Petty was done owning the racing part when it moved from Level Cross and Boston Ventures bought the school and got the team as an extra. Richard retired, let it go.

Anonymous said...

Bob Miller, good reminder of Sadler's previous teams.

He has quite a record. First when he bailed on Wood Bro 2 years early. Then after DJ left Yates, Sadler bails on Yates and takes his sponsor with him!!

I hope he finds a ride, but have no tears for him.

Anonymous said...

It still seems to be a curious decision to me to pick Sorenson over Sadler - but as long as it is based on past or expected performance then I have no problem with that. Having grown up in the South and watched the Eastern elite make fun of the South all my life, I am sometimes thin-skinned. I can readily envision some NY marketing type saying Sadler is too "Southern." I don't remember exactly which NY Times article I saw in the last couple of months about NASCAR that in its 1st sentence referred to NASCAR fans in the infield chugging beer and roasting pigs.

I do see that Sadler finished 24th in Cup for 2008 and Sorensen 32nd- so I raised the question about whether Sadler's distinct Southern-ness could have been a factor, but I take it David P has no opinion.

Anonymous said...

Richard in N.C.

Don't know where your from, but if you are from the south it's hard to beleive that a southerner or any clear minded thinker would read such trash as that liberal bias New York Times piece of crap.

Anonymous said...


I wonder if you ever take into consideration what others write on a particular subject?

Sadler was a rookie the same year as Tony Stewart. Where is the improvement? He has dumped his owners whenever he thinks the grass is greener somewhere else. He's never cared how long he still has on his contract. He's never been very loyal. He is 34.

Sorenson is young. He's 22. They got a full sponsor for the car--it's the National Guard. I think it's pretty easy to figure out why Reed got the ride.

Anonymous said...

In effect, we are to believe that NASCAR is in the "progress" mode? LOL Folks, it will NEVER be the same as it was back when and we all know it, right?! At least I have many, many memories of Dale to think about while I observe the constant and eventual demise of the NASCAR that I grew up with. How sad!

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness NASCAR will NEVER be the way it was.

Anonymous said...

Sadler has 3 wins in more than 10 years in cup.

Tony has 33 wins in the same period.

It was time to dump Sadler.

Anonymous said...

Geez if you dumped every driver who had won fewer races than Tony Stewart since he's been in Cup there would only be about 4 or 5 cars running. Sadler had done commercials for Best Buy, his sponsor, and Sunoco and got sizeable, regular exposure on Trackside on SPEED - so from a marketing standpoint it seems strange to drop him in favor of Reed S. whose performance has been about the same as Sadler's.

On the other hand - Poole won't like this - maybe replacing Sadler with Sorensen is an indication that GEM is confident about NASCAR's future going forward, views Sorensen as having more long-term upside potential, and is willing to take the financial hit now to buy out Sadler in order to keep Sorensen in a Cup ride for GEM.

Mike Hutton said...

Apparently GEM didn't politely "buy out" Sadler...he's suing for breach of contract.

I believe th
is was the bit of info that David received with about 3 minutes to go on Friday's TMD show but couldn't elaborate on without verifying some stuff first.

Anonymous said...

Sadler got dumped because Sorenson and AJ are cheaper. That is the bottom line.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible we won't have a full 43 car field this year? With all these mergers and failures, I am beginning to wonder if qualifying may just be to line the cars up on the track and not send any home. What will we do without the "go or go homers?" Sad if it turns out to be the case.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 1/3 @ 5:26: AJ and Sorenson may indeed be cheaper, but you don't get buyer's remorse with a valid contract. Sadler might be out, but he's got a case.

Anonymous said...

I've got two words for Elliot Sadler...........Jeremy Mayfield. I seem to remember in 2006 when he found out he was being replaced by Sadler through a news reporter too. Karma anyone?

Anonymous said...

Looks like fans will just have to wait for news releases to learn what's going on about Petty Ent., GEM, E. Sadler, etc. since no one seems to be doing any reporting.

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