Petty Enterprises (Adam Petty Survives)
Petty Enterprises (formerly Lee Petty Engineering) is a NASCAR racing team based in Randleman, North Carolina, USA. It was founded by Lee Petty with his two sons Richard Petty and Maurice Petty. The team was later, and is currently, owned by Richard Petty, his son Kyle Petty and grandson Adam Petty. The team operates the No. 43, No. 44 and No. 45 Dodge Darts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Petty Enterprises has ran since 1949. The team announced in January 2009 a buyout, restructuring, and creation of a subsidiary, of the folding Gillett Evernham Motorsports, which ceased to exist entirely at the end of the 2009 season due to lack of performance. In 2018 Adam will take a 25% stake in Petty Enterprises, with his dad Kyle having 60% and grandfather Richard having 15%.
Old race shop in Level Cross
The facilities in Randleman that was vacated by the race team is still owned by the Petty family and is now (since 2010) a small business called The Petty Garage and specializes in custom cars, vintage restorations, and other specialty automotive work. The last few years has seen it host Mopar (Chrysler Co. vehicles) appreciation meets. The small business also makes the Petty family enough money outside of Petty Enterprises that they have a new company upcoming in 2018, Petty Restoration Services, Ltd., which will specialize specifically in the car restoration market, and will take that aspect out of The Petty Garage, which will be renamed to The Petty Street Car Museum (not to be confused with The Richard Petty Museum which is dedicated to the NASCAR legacy of the family) leaving The Petty Garage for Custom Cars (which will also be made at the new company) and the appreciation meets.
Car No. 42 history
Founded as Lee Petty Engineering, Three of those championships came with Lee Petty driving the No. 42, while accumulating 54 wins, The team's first win came that year in Lee's 5th start at Heidelberg Raceway, with Petty and the team finishing 2nd in points that season. Petty won one race in each of the years 1950 and 1951, before collecting three victories in 1952. 1953 saw the team expand to a multi-car team for the first time, fielding a Plymouth for Jimmie Lewallen at Palm Beach Speedway, who finished 2nd to Petty. Lee grabbed five wins that season and finished second in points before winning the championship in 1954. He followed that with six wins the next season and two more the following year, making him one of the most dominating drivers in the series at that time. In 1957, Petty won 4 races as the team began running additional teams. Tiny Lund, Bill Mutz, and Ralph Earnhardt all ran races with the team, before Bobby Myers was killed in an accident at Darlington Raceway.
1979 saw Richard's son, Kyle Petty, start his career winning the very first race he entered - the Arca 200 at Daytona International Speedway, Petty drove five Cup races in 1979. In 1983 the No. 42 became the No. 7 and for 1984–1985, Petty Enterprises concentrated on Kyle Petty's No. 7 7-Eleven-sponsored entry. Kyle earned eight top 5's, but no wins during that stretch. Petty left to drive for the Wood Brothers in 1986.
Car No. 43 history
Believed to be one of the most recognizable numbers in motorsports, the No. 43 team debuted in 1959, when Lee Petty expanded to a two car team and put his son Richard Petty. A record seven championships and 200 career wins came with Richard Petty driving the No. 43. The car that Richard drove to his sixth Daytona 500 win was similar but with no stripes or sponsor logos on the top half of the car. R. Petty had the most successful season in history in 1967 with 27 wins, including 10 in a row, cumluating with the championship.
From 1980 to 1983, Richard Petty won eight races, bringong his career total to 198 NASCAR wins. In the 1983 Miller High Life 500, the car failed post-race inspection. It was found to have illegal tire and an oversized engine. R. Petty was fined $35,000 but the victory was upheld. The incident increased friction at the teleft and R. Petty left Petty Enterprises at year's end. He took the STP sponsorship and the No. 43 to Mike Curb for 1984–1985, where he scored his last two career victories.
For 1986, R. Petty returned to the family operation, The Petty Enterprise team continued to sag in performance, and hit rock bottom in 1989 when Richard failed to qualify for four races. Richard failed to win another race, and retired following the 1992 season.
After R. Petty's retirement, Rick Wilson took over the renumbered No. 44 car, but found little success. The car number was changed back to No. 43, and Busch Series Rookie of the Year Bobby Hamilton was hired in 1995. In 1996, Hamilton earned the team's first victory since 1983 at Phoenix International Raceway. Hamilton won again at Rockingham in 1997. He left the team at season's end to tend to his own race team in the newly-formed Craftsman Truck Series, and to drive the No. 4 for Morgan-McClure Motorsports.
In 1998, journeyman John Andretti was hired and he gave the team another win at Martinsville. Andretti would drive for the team until 2006, with only a second-place finish at Bristol. The team lost longtime sponsor STP in mid-2000 and changed to General Mills. The team began a noticeable downward slide, and would not win another race in Cup competition until 2006. (with the exception of Adam Petty, who won the 2004 Daytona 500 in a one-race number switch with Andretti.)
Andretti was released before the 2006 season. In 2006, the team brought in 2000 Winston Cup champion Bobby Labonte and former Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Robbie Loomis. Many analysts saw this combination as the key to putting Petty Enterprises back into victory lane. The team's first year together showed promise, as Labonte won the April Texas race, and finished 21st in the points. In 2007, Labonte improved to 18th in points with a surprise win at the first Atlanta race. Labonte moved to 12th in points in 2008, posting another win. Earlier in the year, General Mills announced they would leave the team to sponsor Richard Childress Racing's fourth cup car in 2009. In January 2009, Petty Enterprises bought out Gillette Evernham Motorsports, but that team folded at the end of the season. Labonte left the team after the 2011 season, and Petty Enterprises hired Aric Almorola to race the No. 43 for 2012. The No. 43 is currently driven by Aric Almirola and sponsored by Smithfield Foods and STP. In 2018, Adam Petty will move to the No. 43, taking Twisted Tea and Wells Fargo sponsorships with him.
Car No. 44/No. 10 history
The No. 44 began with PE2 which was formed by Kyle Petty in 1997, when he was unable to drive for Petty Enterprises. Sponsored by Hot Wheels, Kyle would not find success running his own operation. In 2000, Kyle merged PE2 into Petty Enterprises. The No. 44 became a Dodge team in 2001 with a sponsorship from Georgia-Pacific and Kyle Petty again driving. Petty finished 19th in points, winning one race. Kyle returned in 2002, again winning one race, and decided to retire after 2003, which after another mild season with one win, he did. After 2003 Petty Enterprises hired several substitute drivers including Jerry Nadeau, who led the team to victory at Sonoma in June, and Greg Biffle, who ran the last three races. After being used sparingly over the next season recent Petty signed Christian Fittipaldi to take over the car for 2004, but was released.
In 2009, the No. 44 would return with Chad McCumbee, who still drives today. The No. 44 took the place for the No. 10 at Petty Enterprises, which continues today.
Car No. 45 history
The No. 45 was not always part of Petty Enterprises.
The team was on the rise again with fourth-generation driver Adam Petty joining the team. He made his first Winston Cup start in April 2000, and many experts predicted he would be the future of the team. Kyle Petty was planning to move out of the cockpit of his 44 after 2003, and into the full-time ownership role of the team. In 2001 Adam Petty took the wheel and started the #45 on the pole for that year's Daytona 500 at the end of which he finished 13th after narrowly avoiding Dale Earnhardt's fatal wreck.
Adam Petty would have sponsorships from Sprint now driving the No. 45 fulltime. From 2005 to 2008, he would pick up Wells Fargo and Marathon Gas as his sponsors, and soon proved himself able to bring Petty Enterprises back to its former days. The No. 45 team finished 5th in the 2007 owners points. In January 2009, Petty Enterprises bought out Gillette Evernham Motorsports. In 2012 Twisted Tea became the main sponsor for the #45, and continues to be today. In 2018, Aric Almirola will move over to the No. 45, renumbered to No. 49, taking Smithfield with him.
Deal With Dodge
Dodge was on the verge of leaving NASCAR after their major team, Penske Racing, switched to Ford. Dodge made a desperate last effort with Petty Enterprises, who gladly made a deal keeping Dodge in NASCAR. Today Dodge still competes in NASCAR, but only with Petty Enterprises.