Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ragan the front-runner for Petty's iconic No. 43?

A.J. Allmendinger departs RPM leaving the No. 43 up for grabs and several potential
candidates to vie for the position.
John Harreslon/Getty Images for NASCAR
The iconic No. 43 seat is up for grabs after A.J. Allmendinger’s departure to Penske Racing was announced yesterday; but the question remains, who will be filling the seat made famous by “The King"?

With just 65 days until the Daytona 500, the clock is ticking for a decision to be made. Sponsorship needs to be attained, driver and team prep has to be done, not to mention the endless photo shoots and preseason media availability. Fans might consider this the off season, but in NASCAR there's really very little down time, especially for a team in transition.

There are several options for who could fill the seat at Richard Petty Motorsports, but one driver seems to be best suited for the brand, David Ragan. Ragan is a clean-cut, well-respected and wholesome driver and would fit the image of RPM.

Heading into his sixth season in NASCAR’s elite Sprint Cup series, Ragan has one win, 12 top-5s and 30 top-10s to his credit. At the end of the 2011 season, the No. 6 team, where Ragan has been for the past five years, was disbanded due to lack of sponsorship. For weeks rumors have been circulating about where Ragan would end up. Until yesterday it was thought he would drive the No. 22 for Penske, but that seat has now been filled by Allmendinger.

The other big ticket option for Petty lies in a bit of controversy – Kurt Busch. Busch and Penske mutually separated after the conclusion of the year due largely in part to Busch’s bad behavior throughout the season. Looking past the bad behavior, Kurt Busch is a heck of a driver and RPM needs to win and get back in victory lane more. Busch’s 12-year career in the Cup Series has garnered him a championship, 24 wins, 88 top-5s and 169 top-10s, so he definitely has the ability to put the team in the situation to win.

Looking past the two obvious choices, there are also David Reutimann and Brian Vickers to consider as options. Both would be suitable fits for RPM but in my opinion, but I just do not see it happening. Both drivers have at least one win to their name, but do not seem to have the star power needed for the Petty label.

Does David Ragan? Well, maybe not with his statistics but he sure has a loyal fan following. There has been an outcry on social networking sites of support and disbelief that Ragan is without a ride heading into the new season. Fans were hopeful that Ragan would get the No. 22 ride and now wait in angst and cling to the rumors that fly.

Richard Petty Motorsports also has the added benefit that they run Fords and to be exact, Roush Fenway Fords, so Ragan is familiar with the equipment.

So, if you are asking me (which you aren't) who should fill the No. 43 ride - I am giving my vote to David Ragan based on the fact that he is a young talent, his fan base will support RPM, and he knows the equipment. 

Who will Richard Petty Motorsports choose? When will they make a decision? Stay tuned to Skirts and Scuffs for the latest on the seat-swapping saga. 

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