Richard Petty Motorsports will switch from Dodge to Ford next season through a merger of RPM and Yates Racing, the team announced Thursday.

The combined organisation will race Fords under the name Richard Petty Motorsports with a line-up that includes current RPM drivers Kasey Kahne, AJ Allmendinger and Elliott Sadler and Yates Racing's Paul Menard.

Reed Sorenson, who drives the #43 RPM Dodge, will not be with the organisation next season.

Yates Racing, which is already in the Ford camp, and Roush Fenway Racing have an engine partnership (Roush-Yates Engines) that will accrue to the benefit of the new organisation.

"You know what I like - we have really good cars, but I feel like we need to make some gains engine-wise," said Kahne, who won Sunday's Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta and will try to clinch a place in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on Saturday night at Richmond. "And Roush-Yates engines are really good, but they can make some gains car-wise. Between all of us working together, we can make some big gains for next year."

RPM itself is the product of mergers. The company began as Evernham Motorsports in 2000 and pioneered Dodge's return to Cup racing in 2001, after running Fords for three races in 2000. George Gillett bought a majority interest in Evernham Motorsports in August 2007, forming Gillett Evernham Motorsports.

Richard Petty Motorsports was formed in January of this year through a merger of Gillett-Evernham and Petty Holdings. From 2001 through 2009, Dodge has been the manufacturer for the various evolutions of the organisation.

RPM's move to Ford leaves Dodge with the three Penske Racing cars of Kurt Busch, Sam Hornish Jr. and David Stremme. Penske recently announced Brad Keselowski will replace Stremme in the #12 Dodge next year.

Richard Petty claimed nine of his record 200 victories in a Ford in 1969, the only year he drove the brand. Kahne started out with Yates Racing, driving Fords in the Nationwide Series. After a full Nationwide season for Akins Motorsports in 2003, Kahne signed to drive Dodges in the Cup series for Gillett-Evernham.

"Ford is going to provide the support that we need to go to victory lane more often," said team managing partner Foster Gillett. "If you are going to compete with the other teams in this sport you need a lot of support.

"We bring a lot to this relationship as well. We've won twice this season, and the power of Richard Petty is hard to beat, plus we have the support of some of the biggest names in corporate America."

by Reid Spencer / Sporting News