Job toll mounts as Petty merger with Yates advances
OPINION | CHECKERED PAST
Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009
Parking spaces have gotten well beyond plentiful at Richard Petty Motorsports this week. There are also a lot more resumes being posted on www.DontCheckUp.com, says the site’s Don Gemmell.
The site’s name, of course, is from the racing term about braking, and the idea behind it is to try and help as the recession continues to wreak havoc on many racing careers and lives. The site is a place to post resumes and find support, even the occasional job.
“We do get them occasionally,” he said. “One came in yesterday from a team in California that’s looking for a crew chief.”
The Petty operation, as its merger with Yates Racing moves ahead, has sent dozens employees away this week at its Concord, N.C., engine shop and the car shop in Statesville. Still more are expected to leave when the season ends in a week and a half.
Gemmell, who was among many idled by the Dale Earnhardt Inc.-Chip Ganassi Racing merger nearly a year ago, estimates that 1,500 racing industry workers have been affected since late last season.
The rush of new inquiries and postings resulting from the Petty layoffs is only part of the rough news, Gemmell said Thursday. The site’s recent survey suggests many are giving up on the Charlotte area, the hub of North American racing and an area of growing influence in motorsports worldwide.
“A pretty good number have left,” Gemmell said. “A lot of them have hung on for a year. Some have taken what they can find, for less money, but the majority are still unemployed.”
One of the more public victims of the Ganassi-DEI merger, driver Aric Almirola, this week asked a North Carolina court to send his contract dispute with the organization to arbitration. SceneDaily.com reported that Almirola, who was scheduled for a full season of Cup competition this year and is now running in the Truck series, beat a Thursday deadline for filing the breach-of-contract claim.
What does Jimmie Johnson have to do to clinch? Well, at Phoenix, where he arrives 73 points up, he’d have to gain 122 more in the race. The champagne would come out then and there, no matter how anyone else did.
Another way, if it’s not resolved this weekend, would be to score at least the equivalent of fourth-place finishes at both tracks, or average fifth and a lap led in each of the final two races. Or – does your head hurt yet? – he could average sixth and lead the most laps both places.
The Cup championship remains, rightfully enough, the focus heading into the final two race weekends, but what about that race for the top 35 and some assurance of spots in the first five races of 2010?
Owner/driver Robby Gordon’s No. 7 is 34th, 41 up on Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing’s No. 34, driven by John Andretti. The No. 83 of Red Bull Racing, driven by Scott Speed, is 117 points behind that in 36th.
Looking ahead to the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway …
Carl Edwards notched his series-high ninth Cup win at the 1.5-mile track in 2009. It was his first there and team owner Jack Roush’s sixth. Another Roush Fenway driver, Greg Biffle, tops the series chart with three wins at Homestead. Edwards is winless in Cup competition this season.
Two drivers will go for three this weekend at Phoenix. That would be Kyle Busch, who was two for three last week at Texas – and ran out of fuel while leading late – and Kevin Harvick. That hat trick remains undone in NASCAR’s top-three series.
Asked about criticism of NASCAR and its product this season from some fans and others in the media, here’s a little of what Juan Pablo Montoya had to say:
“To tell you the truth, I think people that complain about a NASCAR race, they haven't watched any other motor racing. … I've been in Formula One, I've been in IndyCars, I've been in CART. And the best racing is right here; nothing compares.”