CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Richard Petty Motorsports laid off nine employees Monday 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 Monday 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. The team made a move in that direction late Monday by partnering with Braun Racing, a Toyota team, for five Nationwide Series races beginning with next month’s event at Daytona.

RPM gave no indication what brand, Dodge or Toyota, its drivers will use in the five races with Braun.

RPM currently fields Sprint Cup cars for Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and AJ Allmendinger, who are all signed through 2010, and Reed Sorenson, who is in a contract year. Although Allmendinger is signed through 2010, the team has only committed to field his car through the 26th race of the season.

Now that funding from Dodge has become a serious concern, the organization could scale back to three teams at any time. All four cars are entered in this weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway.

The financial situation also could take an immediate toll on competition. RPM has lagged far behind in development of the new R6P8 engine that Penske Racing, the other Dodge organization, has used all season.

Frustrated by the slow pace, Kahne publicly pushed RPM officials to use the new motor. He finally debuted it two weeks ago in Dover, Del., and was thrilled with the horsepower following his sixth-place finish.

But RPM did not have enough motors in production for Kahne or the others to use the new engine last weekend at Pocono, and it’s not clear if they’ll bring any to Michigan. If a split with Dodge is imminent, the team likely will balk at spending any more money on development of a motor it won’t use beyond this season.

Meanwhile, Roger Penske said Sunday at Pocono he intends to honor his a three-year contract with Dodge, despite last week’s agreement to purchase the Saturn brand from General Motors.

GM, which fields Chevrolets in NASCAR, last week became the second of the four NASCAR manufacturers to enter Chapter 11 protection.

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