News & Media

Petty: Economics the reason for Loomis' departure

January 25, 2012, Mark Aumann,

CONCORD, N.C. -- Didn't rule out possibility RPM executive could return at some point in the future

Economics, not a difference of opinion, played the biggest factor in why Richard Petty Motorsports decided not to renew the contract of team executive Robbie Loomis.

Team owner Richard Petty said Tuesday during NASCAR's preseason media tour that Loomis, the team's chief operating officer, was not fired. Instead, Petty said the team couldn't afford to re-sign him.

Petty and Loomis in 2010.

"When sponsorship goes away, we have to look at what does it take to make the team work with the money we've got," Petty said.

When Best Buy decided not to renew its primary sponsorship of the No. 43 Ford at the end of the year, it set into motion a chain of events. A.J. Allmendinger was released from his obligations and eventually signed with Penske Motorsports.

Earlier this month, Smithfield Foods announced it had agreed to a multi-year partnership with RPM, including 15 races this season as the primary sponsor of the No. 43. That announcement came one week after the team signed Aric Almirola as driver.

For now, other Petty staffers are handling Loomis' responsibilities.

"Right now, we're busy trying to work around Robbie," Petty said. "We've got Sammy Johns, who was taking care of the shop part anyway. Robbie was more into the politics and things like that. Right now, we're out of the politics for a few weeks here, anyway. [We're] just trying to get all the cars ready to go."

However, Loomis could still a play a role at RPM. Petty didn't rule out the possibility that Loomis could return to the team at some point in the future.

"He's in the floating stages," Petty said. "He's not decided what he wants to do yet. We haven't decided what we can do with him, where we can fit him into our organization. Everything's changed from the bottom to the top, and from the top down."

Loomis began his career at Petty Enterprises in 1990, replacing Dale Inman as crew chief. In 2000, he moved to Hendrick as crew chief for Jeff Gordon, winning the Cup championship the following year. Six years later, Loomis returned to the Petty shop as vice president of racing operations.