Richard Petty discusses Robbie Loomis

CONCORD, N.C. -- The owner of Richard Petty Motorsports said Tuesday that not re-signing chief operating officer Robbie Loomis was a business decision.

Richard Petty said Loomis was not fired, that his contract simply expired, and he still maintained a "personal" relationship with the organization that has struggled financially the past few years.

Loomis had been in charge of turning around RPM's on-track program for the past six years. He previously was at Hendrick Motorsports, where he was the crew chief for Jeff Gordon when he won the 2001 Sprint Cup title.

Petty said the decision not to offer a new deal had nothing to do with Loomis being outspoken about wanting to sign 2004 Cup champion Kurt Busch after Busch was released from Penske Racing.

RPM eventually signed Nationwide Series driver Aric Almirola from JR Motorsports to drive the famous No. 43.

"That was the business part of it," Petty said of Loomis' departure. "Personally, nothing has changed. Anything we do at the shop, we call him and let him know. He's up on the very latest thing we do at the shop."

Petty said all of Loomis' responsibilities at the track and shop have been re-assigned to other people. He did not rule out Loomis returning at some point, if it is financially feasible.

"He has a personal connection to Richard Petty Motorsports," Petty said. "Right now, that's all it is."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.