NASCAR: Richard Petty Motorsports committed to two-car program in 2015

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Over the past five days, Richard Petty Motorsports has had Marcos Ambrose announce he’s going back home to Australia to race V8 Supercars.

Additionally, they’ve also had team sponsors Stanley and Dewalt Tools announce they’re heading for Joe Gibbs Racing.

But the two-car Sprint Cup team insists that it will remain that way for the 2015 season.

“Today, the organization with a championship history, winning present and proven marketing programs, announced it will use the same aggressive business and growth model to support the No. 9 Ford team in 2015 and beyond in a series of announcements,” an RPM release from this afternoon said.

“RPM will continue to be a two-car NASCAR Sprint Cup organization and will compete weekly with the No. 9 and No. 43 teams.”

The team also confirmed that it will retain Ford as its manufacturer and continue its respective chassis/engine supply pacts with Roush Fenway Racing and Roush Yates Engines. Earlier this season, RPM had been the subject of reports that it was looking at leaving Ford for Toyota.

The Boston Beer Company’s Twisted Tea brand of “hard” iced tea will also stay with the No. 9 team that Ambrose is leaving behind. Smithfield Foods has already announced a multi-year extension and investment increase in the No. 43 team.

RPM president and CEO Brian Moffitt had this to say in the team release.

“First, we want to wish Stanley Black and Decker the best. Their commitment and support has been a critical component to the success of RPM. As with all good partnerships, we are proud that the STANLEY and RPM partnership has benefited both companies. We are grateful for their support and they will always be a part of our family.

“Today, we are excited to build new partnerships on the No. 9 team. We have a vision that our ownership group and sponsors support and believe in. We have built upon that vision in two short years to become championship eligible. It’s that belief that will help us support the No. 9 team. One partner that has supported us is Ford Racing, who will again be our manufacturer partner as we continue our relationship that has helped us become a ‘Chase’ organization.”

Ford Racing’s Jamie Allison added in the release that he expects the team’s “strength throughout this season” will “only continue next season and beyond.”

This year, Aric Almirola brought the No. 43 team its first Sprint Cup win since 1999, which was enough to put him into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

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Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.