Richard Petty Motorsports laid off nine employees yesterday and reduced salaries throughout the organization, a byproduct of Chrysler's bankruptcy filing.
RPM officials took the measures because of anticipated cutbacks from Dodge, a person familiar with the moves told the Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding RPM's contract with Chrysler.
Chrysler, Dodge's parent company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month.
In an interview yesterday before the organizational cuts, team co-owner Richard Petty acknowledged a disruption to the race team since Chrysler's April 30 filing.
"Everybody sets up a budget of what to do. All of a sudden, they call up and say, 'We just went bankrupt, guys. We can't pay you. Or we can give you a quarter on the dollar that we owe you.' And you say, 'Whoa, man,' " Petty said. "Everything you've got just goes out the window. And then you've got to go back to square one and start again.
"A lot of the operations have cut back on their travel, they've cut back on . . . a lot of people that make it work - not only mechanics, truck drivers, whatever it may be. And then a lot of us have asked our people to take a pay cut."
RPM is in the final year of its contract with Dodge, and the team is widely believed to be trying to negotiate a switch to Toyota in 2010.
In other auto-racing news:
* Defending Truck Series champion Johnny Benson is without a ride because Red Horse Racing has folded that team after a fruitless sponsorship search. Benson is in the first year of a 3-year contract with Red Horse. He is coming off a fourth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway over the weekend, and is currently seventh in the series standings.
* Penn State's homecoming game, Oct. 17 against Minnesota, will begin at 3:30 and will be televised by ABC regionally, with ESPN or ESPN2 airing it in the rest of the nation.
* An NCAA committee has approved three basketball rules changes intended to clarify block-charge calls, who can shoot free throws after an injury and the expanded use of replay. The announcement means secondary defenders must establish position outside the area between the backboard and the front of the rim to draw a charge call. The panel also addressed the perceived advantage teams can get when a fouled player is injured. Previously, the shooting team's coach could select any player on his roster to take free throws. Now, the opposing coach must select from the four players remaining on the court. And the committee approved expanding replay to determine flagrant fouls, which would result in ejection.
* LSU forward Tasmin Mitchell has withdrawn from the NBA draft and will return to the Tigers as a fifth-year senior next season.
* Ursinus College appointed Jamie Steele as men's lacrosse coach. He served as interim coach for the program since mid-March.
* Rafael Nadal is having his knees checked by doctors and expects to announce his status for Wimbledon in the coming days. A posting on Nadal's Web site said the reigning Wimbledon champion is in Barcelona, Spain, for medical tests. He is expected to make an announcement by tomorrow. Wimbledon starts June 22.
* John Daly failed in his bid to earn one of 13 spots available in the U.S. Open, managing only four birdies over 36 holes of a qualifier in Germantown, Tenn.
* John Barnes has resigned as Jamaica's soccer coach to become manager of a third-tier club in England. *