All right, I don't know if Richard Petty Motorsports rules. But I like RPM. And how happy would you be if the King's new team won a race?
The car he made famous, No. 43, is red and white. It looks fast, sitting there in a hotel ballroom Monday during the NASCAR Spring Media Tour hosted by Lowe's Motor Speedway. Reed Sorensen will drive it.
I wrote about Reed once after a long conversation in Daytona Beach. I figured we'd have a connection. But he was a worse interview than Raymond Felton of the Charlotte Bobcats. Just as baseball has the Mendoza line, I have the Felton line, If a guy is less quotable than Raymond, I talk to him only if I have to. I had to talk to Reed Monday.
I love talking to Petty. He says he long ago promised his mother that his car would never bear the name of a company associated with alcohol. And even though the Gillett Evernham Motorsports team with which Petty's team merged has an association with Budweiser, Petty says there is no Budweiser sticker on the cars he made famous, 43 and 44.
I saw at least 66 stickers on the 43 car. None said Budweiser.
"My mother would come back and haunt us all," Petty says.
Petty says he had a list; if GEM did not agree to the contents, there would be no merger.
One was that three employees -- Robbie Loomis, Dale Inman and Brian Moffitt -- join him.
"I ain't coming if my people ain't coming," Petty says.
The unveiling of the new team's logo was supposed to be dramatic, but Foster Gillett accidently knocked the cover off and there it was.
Gillett turned almost as red as the 43 car.
"You done good, buddy," Petty told him.
Loomis says he isn't sure what his new title will be, but he'll help run the operation. He says Petty won't go to the drivers and insist they listen to his sage and learned advice. But he will offer suggestions. If they listen, fine, and if they don't fine.
Why wouldn't they listen?
Petty approached two of us before his news conference and began to talk. Soon there were 50 people around him. He is as gracious and as unpretentious as anybody that has slipped behind a steering wheel, and he always has something to say.
We listened. And we were honored to have the opportunity.