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Petty believes NASCAR should be helping teams

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Richard Petty said Friday the newly formed Race Team Alliance was necessary because NASCAR hasn't done enough to help team owners slash costs.

The RTA was announced earlier this month as an alliance of nine of NASCAR's top teams. Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing and chair of the owners' group, said the RTA's immediate aim is to build purchasing power, create travel partners and finding a common insurer.

NASCAR Chairman Brian France this week said the RTA wasn't necessary and the sanctioning body believes listening ''to one voice is just a bad idea.''

Petty, the seven-time NASCAR champion and Hall of Fame driver, gave a hearty laugh when asked whether the RTA is a bad idea.

''It's really kind of a bad idea from the standpoint that NASCAR should be doing what we're doing,'' said Petty, who has put Richard Petty Motorsports in the alliance. ''We belong to an organization, and NASCAR should be making the best deals they can for their organization. We see them do a lot of that, but they're not doing it as much as maybe the new crowd wants to see.''

Petty said his two-car organization joined the RTA to explore cost-cutting measures and likened the alliances' ideas to a farmers' cooperative.

''We are all independent contractors and we have no voice to the general public,'' he said. ''That's my main objective. Can I save on insurance? Can I save on travel? Can we save on stuff we are doing to the race car? Can we save time at the race tracks? Stuff like that to keep from having to overpay what we are doing now.''

He also insisted the RTA is not trying to pick a fight with NASCAR leadership. Although many have wondered if the team's ultimate goal is to seize a bigger percentage of next year's $8.2 million television package, Kauffman, Petty and other owners have said their focus is on working as a group to save money.

''Our main deal is not to run NASCAR,'' he said. ''Anything we do to tear NASCAR down is cutting our own throats. We're going to do everything we can to make NASCAR bigger and better. Because if we don't, then we're out of business.''