Richard Petty Motorsports downsizes to one car for 2017 Cup season

Richard Petty Motorsports will downsize from two Cup cars to one for 2017, making it the fourth organization to either cut its number of cars or close after the 2016 season.

Brian Scott, who brought sponsorship from Albertson's Companies as well as his family's Shore Lodge, announced his retirement last month, and RPM announced Friday that it would not field the No. 44 car next year.

The charter (NASCAR's licenses that guarantee spots in Sprint Cup races) from the No. 44 car has been leased to Go FAS Racing and will return to RPM for 2018, where it must either field a team with it or sell it.

RPM has driver Aric Almirola and sponsor Smithfield signed for 2017, and the move allows the organization to regroup without fielding the second car it has no funding for in 2017. Almirola was 26th in the standings in 2016 while Scott was 31st.

"We feel that it's in the best interest of our partners and for Richard Petty Motorsports to focus our resources on the No. 43 Ford Fusion and Aric in 2017," said RPM CEO Brian Moffitt, the son-in-law of team co-owner Richard Petty.

"A concentrated effort on one team will position us for improvement while giving us adequate time to re-establish our two-car team in 2018."

Petty, the seven-time Cup champion and inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, has been co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports since its 2009 formation, the result of a merger with Gillett Evernham Motorsports and the closure of the historic Petty Enterprises organization.

RPM then downsized to a two-car organization before the 2011 season with Andrew Murstein, the primary shareholder of Medallion Financial, heading the investment group with Petty still owning a share of the team.

RPM is not the only team to have had trouble obtaining sponsorship for next season. Five full-time cars from 2016 won't run in 2017 -- RPM and Roush Fenway Racing both reduced their operations by one car, while the two-car HScott Motorsports and single-car Tommy Baldwin Racing won't field cars at all.

Furniture Row Racing and JTG Daugherty Racing have increased from one-car to two-car operations.