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Richard Petty back in charge


Richard Petty will once again run his race team and participate in day-to-day operations as chairman of the new ownership group that was announced this week.

The assets of Richard Petty Motorsports have been sold from George Gillett Jr. to an investment group that consists of Petty, Medallion Financial Corp., and DGP Investments.

“Today is a great day for me, my family, our fans and our wonderful sponsors,” Petty said Monday in a statement that listed 10 partners that “have supported me through thick and thin and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

RPM will field cars for AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose in 2011.

The transfer of assets has been in the works for several weeks because of Gillett’s ongoing financial problems. Debt-laden English soccer club Liverpool recently was sold despite the objection of Gillett and business partner Tom Hicks. And a U.S. hedge fund is suing Gillett over what the firm says is more than $117 million in debt he racked up investing in Liverpool.

Petty owned just a small take in the organization during Gillett’s two-year ownership run of RPM. The seven-time NASCAR champion seemed at times to be nothing but a figurehead, while the Gillett family ran the team.

But Petty worked the final two months of the season to regain control of the team, and the new ownership group was revealed this week.

Medallion Financial is a publicly traded investment company that has Hank Aaron among its key board members.

“We could not be happier to be able to acquire these assets together,” said Andrew Murstein, president of Medallion. “Richard is one of the greatest names, not only in NASCAR, but in all sports. His name and image are a world recognized brand with unlimited potential to grow and expand in racing.

“Ample working capital has been invested in the company to ensure this great team and legend will not only continue to perform, but will thrive and be back in the winner’s circle.”

DGB Investments is a company owned by Douglas Bergeron, the CEO of VeriFone Systems, Inc.

“With Richard Petty’s unmatched name and reputation in the motorsports industry, I know this investment is well-timed to succeed,” Bergeron said.

It’s Petty’s second partnership with investment groups. In 2008, he gave up majority control of the team his family had run since 1949 to Boston Ventures. That move gave Boston Ventures employees the roles of chairman and CEO, while Petty was relegated to a participant in the day-to-day operations.

The move was necessary because the team, then known as Petty Enterprises, had fallen so far behind the competition both on the track and on the business side. Medallion was believed to have been one of the investment groups interested in Petty at the time Boston Ventures completed its deal. But Boston Ventures time with the team was short-lived: Just six months later, Petty was working on a merger with Gillett’s race team.

The merger at the start of 2009 was necessary to keep both Gillett- Evernham Motorsports and Petty’s team afloat after the economic collapse months earlier.

Although the new team — what’s now known as RPM — returned to Victory Lane with Kasey Kahne, the financial issues were never resolved and the organization operated on a week-to-week basis the final two months of this season.

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