Richard Petty's team hot for Danica
Now that Richard Petty Motorsports is on firm financial footing, don't be surprised if Danica Patrick is part of a conversation about the organization's future.
Financier Andrew Murstein, one of Richard Petty's partners in the revamped RPM, thinks Patrick would be an excellent fit for the Sprint Cup team, which currently fields Fords for AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose.
When 2012 arrives, however, Murstein would like to see a third car in the stable, and Patrick, who currently drives part-time for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series, is an intriguing possibility. Clint Bowyer of Richard Childress Racing is another driver who has caught Murstein's eye.
“Not that any of these guys are available, and not that we've spoken any of them, but two names that come to my mind of people that I think would be great for this brand would be Clint Bowyer — who I think is coming out (of his current contract) next year — and Danica Patrick would be very interesting, also...,” Murstein told Sporting News at a Richard Petty Motorsports press conference Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“We now have a woman CEO of the company (RPM CEO Lisa Brown). Medallion (Financial) has financed hundreds of women-owned companies. That's all we did for a while — just women- and minority-owned companies — so I think she'd be a real interesting fit for us. She's somebody that could change the sport.
“I know she's starting to get into it, and I think she deserves to be the star of a team. I don't think she’ll ever get that chance if she goes to some of these four-team operations, but she would get that chance with us.”
Murstein said he eventually would like to see four Cup teams at RPM.
“I'm probably pushing Richard in that,” Murstein said. “That's often the case, though. Sometimes the younger guys want to grow quicker, and the older guys, they see what can happen when you grow too fast.
“I'm already talking to other drivers and mentioning the names to Richard, and he's accepting it, but he's not jumping at it, and he knows more than I do. I think the right time is after this season, but I'd love to have a third car in 2012.”
Jamie Allison, Ford's director of motorsports, appreciates the value Patrick could bring to his brand.
“I've been to races where Danica's been in Nationwide, and obviously I've seen what she's done in (IndyCars),” Allison said. “She brings something that is very tangible to the sport, and I think her decision — whether she's going to come to NASCAR (full-time) is something a lot of people are watching. We'll see how that unfolds. When you go to the races and Danica's involved, the fans have a great connection with what she brings to it.
“Any time you have someone who brings such a connection to fans ... we are in the sport, first and foremost, to prove out our products and our technology and reach out to our fans and basically tell the Ford story. Anything that helps amplify that — one, the ability to win, and two, the ability to connect with our fans, and three, the ability to reach out and tell the Ford story — those are the things we look at.
“When opportunities come up, these are the things we look at, so we're very excited.”