Richard Petty: RTA wants to “make NASCAR bigger and better”

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Another key member of the Race Team Alliance has said that their nine-team consortium is not out to pick a fight with NASCAR.

In Indianapolis, seven-time Sprint Cup champion Richard Petty insisted that any perception of the RTA having grand plans to take over the sport is false.

The two-car Richard Petty Motorsports team is part of the RTA, which officially formed earlier this month.

“Our main deal is not to run NASCAR,” Petty said to reporters Friday at IMS. “Anything we do to tear NASCAR down is cutting our own throats.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make NASCAR bigger and better. Because if we don’t, then we’re out of business.”

The RTA has maintained a stance of wanting to create a consensus voice that can relay concerns to the sanctioning body and work on cost-cutting in multiple areas such as team travel, insurance, and parts.

Petty stayed on that track in his comments at IMS, likening the situation to a farmer’s co-op.

“So far, that’s my main objective,” he said. “Can I save on insurance? Can I save on travel? Can I save [on] some stuff that we’re doing for the race car. Can we save time at the racetrack, stuff like that that we’ll keep from having to overpay with what we’re doing right now.”

However, NASCAR CEO Brian France recently said that he didn’t think the RTA’s formation was necessary and that the sanctioning body would be “dealing with all of the team owners – not most of them, not the big ones, but all of them.”

As you’d figure, Petty disagrees with France’s sentiments.

“It’s really kind of a bad idea from the standpoint that NASCAR should be doing what we’re doing,” he said. “We belong to an organization…And NASCAR should be making the best deals they can for their organization.

“We see them do a lot of that, but they’re not doing it as much as maybe the new crowd wants.”

An IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Talladega? Drivers have discussed it

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If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is interested in an IndyCar iRacing event on an oval, he might like the latest idea being kicked around by NTT Series drivers.

“I personally would want to run at Talladega, but I don’t think that’s an option,” Arrow McLaren SP driver rookie Oliver Askew told NBCSports.com in a Friday interview about his simulation work for the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “IndyCar drivers have a group chat with iRacing, and someone had the idea of running at Talladega, and I thought it was brilliant.”

It actually would be a throwback of sorts as a USAC-sanctioned race with Indy cars at Talladega nearly happened 40 years ago.

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will be running its second consecutive road course Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or streaming here).

Of the four remaining races in the six-race series, there’s a chance that three of them could be ovals: A Drivers’ Choice track April 11; a “Random Draw” April 18 and a non-IndyCar “Dream” track May 2 (the April 25 race will be at Circuit of the Americas).

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IndyCar drivers are voting on next week’s track, and the options include high-speed ovals such as Texas Motor Speedway and Michigan Speedway.

A multicar crash at Talladega last October. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Talladega apparently isn’t on the list for next week, but surely it could be considered for a future race if it meant having Earnhardt in the field. The 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver is a six-time winner at Talladega, and the NASCAR on NBC analyst’s family is synonymous with the 2.66-mile oval where his late seven-time champion father won a record 10 times.

“I hope he can make that happen,” Askew said of racing against Earnhardt. “I hope IndyCar can grant his wish on that.”

The addition of Earnhardt would fit well with an IndyCar iRacing Challenge that already features champions from NASCAR (Jimmie Johnson) and Supercars (Scott McLaughlin).

Will Power would like to see more of that.

“I think that would be great if we can get big-name drivers from other series,” Power said. “Getting a couple guys from Europe would be cool.”