Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The No. 43 becomes a field filler

News that Richard Petty will lose the sponsor on his famed No. 43 at the end of the year is sad, but not surprising.

The Associated Press is reporting General Mills will leave after the season to sponsor Richard Childress Racing’s fourth car. Like the Pittsburgh Steelers and their head football coaches, Petty will search for a new sponsorship for just the third time in more than 35 years.

It was strange to see the STP’s red and Petty blue colors leave the No. 43 halfway through the 2000 season. But at that point, Petty Enterprises was still somewhat competitive with a few wins during the late 1990s. But it’s been a while since that car or Kyle Petty have enjoyed any success. How will they possibly attract a new sponsor that could supply enough money to return them to prominence?

ESPN.com also says Kyle Petty will not race this weekend at Texas and hand the keys to Chad McCumbee, who is better known for playing Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the “3” movie. Unfortunately, the team continues to be merely a “field filler” and nothing more.

Finding sponsorship has been a struggle for many teams in recent years, as illustrated by the white No. 28. The car that Davey Allison, Ernie Irvan and Ricky Rudd drove is now bare. But, I hope Petty is able to secure a sponsorship in time for next season. The No. 43 deserves better.


Brant said...

The Petty franchise was successful only when the "king" was behind the wheel. Sadly, it's been total failure since then for the family business. The only reason Kyle Petty was ever behind the wheel in a NASCAR race was that he was Richard's son. He's a good guy, but he's not a good race car driver.

"Matt" said...

I have to concur to a point. I have the utmost respect for Richard Petty, and Bobby Labonte is one of favorite drivers on the circuit. You won't find a classier guy in NASCAR (save for Mark Martin). But let's face it: the #43 hasn't been relevant since Bobby Hamilton was piloting it in the late '90s. I sincerely hope that the team finds itself a new sponsor. Maybe McCumbie will end up a terrific driver, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Mike Jones said...

I won't hold my breath either. But this is not much different that if another driver is one day behind the wheel of the No. 3. That would be tragic. If you remember in 1993, the King briefly retired the No. 43 in favor of 44. If only he had kept the number retired.

But honestly, has the this car really done anything since Petty won his final race in 1984?