Report: Richard Petty considering move from Ford to Toyota

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The last time Ford won a Sprint Cup championship was 2004, with Kurt Busch behind the wheel for Roush Racing.

The last time Toyota won a Sprint Cup championship was … well, it has never won a Cup crown since entering the Cup series in 2007.

Heading into Saturday night’s race at Kansas Speedway, Chevrolet and Ford have both won four races in 2014, while Denny Hamlin’s win Sunday at Talladega was only the second thus far for Toyota.

And yet a report Friday suggested that officials at Richard Petty Motorsports – including team majority owner and NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty – are considering moving to Toyota power for 2015.

According to a story on Motorsport.com, The King reportedly met with Toyota representatives two weeks ago at Richmond to discuss a possible alliance.

Petty’s current contract with both Ford and Roush Yates Engines expires at the end of this season, according to the Motorsport.com story.

Just as RPM has begun to show increased performance over the last couple of seasons, would King Richard really leave Ford for Toyota?

Better yet, why?

If Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing — the only two teams that receive Toyota factory support from its Toyota Racing Development subsidiary — have yet to win a title, where is the upside gain for RPM if it were to join the Toyota camp?

If Petty were to take his organization anywhere other than Ford, Chevrolet would seem a much more logical and realistic affiliation, particularly if RPM chooses to align itself with either Hendrick Motorsports or Richard Childress Racing/ECR Motors.

After all, Chevy has won eight of the last nine Cup championships.

Petty shifted from Dodge to Ford power near the end of the 2009 season and has proudly worn the blue circle ever since.

Moving to Toyota just doesn’t seem to make sense.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

Follow @KyleMLavigne