- Associated Press - Monday, November 22, 2010

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) - Richard Petty finished financially restructuring his race team and will field two fewer cars in 2011.

The seven-time NASCAR champion said Monday that Richard Petty Motorsports will go from four cars to two next year. RPM will field Fords for AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose.

The reduction in teams is expected to lead to significant layoffs at RPM, which Petty said “is never an easy process for the people involved.”

“Currently, we are concentrating on building two solid programs,” Petty said in a statement. “We are very fortunate to have an extremely loyal family of partners and are looking forward to the future.”

RPM was in turmoil the final two months of the season because of the financial problems plaguing majority owner George Gillett Jr. Making it to the final four races of the year was not guaranteed for RPM because of debts not paid to partner Roush-Fenway Racing.

Because Roush supplies cars and engines to RPM, inventory was held each week until RPM was able to make a payment against the debt.

Petty owned just a small stake in RPM, but was working on a plan to take control of the organization from Gillett, who has been hit hard the last several years by financial difficulties.

Former partner Ray Evernham said last weekend he is preparing a lawsuit to recover money he believes Gillett still owes him, although he isn’t sure whether there is “something there to get.”

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.

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