Bristol: Kyle Petty preview

Petty Ready to Wheel the COT No. 45 Driver Has Been Involved with Project Since Inception This weekend, Kyle Petty and the ...

Petty Ready to Wheel the COT
No. 45 Driver Has Been Involved with Project Since Inception

This weekend, Kyle Petty and the #45 Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge team will head to the .533-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (BMS) for Sunday's Food City 500.

After years of planning, designing and testing the Car of Tomorrow (COT) officially takes to the track this weekend in the mountains of Tennessee. Petty Enterprises has been a part of the COT project from early on. The Dodge prototype that was submitted to NASCAR was built in the Randleman, N.C. shop. Getting in at ground zero was the wish of Petty as, first and foremost, the COT is a safer car.

Petty will be making his 790th NEXTEL Cup start this weekend. It will also mark his 48th start at BMS. Petty has completed 81.6% of the laps run during his career at BMS. He has garnered two top-fives and nine top-tens and has led for a total of 245 laps. Petty finished 18th in the 2006 edition of the Food City 500.

Petty is 34th in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series standings heading into Bristol.

Comments from Petty as he prepares for Sunday's Food City 500:

"The Car of Tomorrow has changed a lot since its inception. Gary Nelson, who was really in charge of the process from the get go, had a lot of great ideas and incorporated a lot of great ideas into it. Brett Bodine, who probably knows more about racecars than most people out here walking around in the garage area, when he got involved in it with the engineering staff, it started to evolve into what we see today. I think what people have to keep in mind, and one reason we jumped onboard, was because of Adam, obviously. We took the approach that the COT is a safer car. Forget what it looks like. Forget how it drives. Forget everything about it. Just remember it's a safer car, and with cars like that your favorite drivers stand a better shot at walking away from an accident."

"Sometimes, when I look at the criticism I think people forget the point of what the car was built for. Having said that, I think they have gone back and the crush zones that they have added to the car have not taken away aesthetically from the car. It's different than what the fans are used to seeing. But, I have to go all the way back to 1970 when they unloaded the Plymouth Superbird and the Dodge Daytona. Those were a lot different than anyone had seen before as well. So, when you look at cars like this, it will be a huge step forward, innovation-wise, for NASCAR racing."

"I think a lot of it is good. I am not going to say 100% of it is good, but I think a lot of it is a good direction. And, I think it is a totally different direction. We are one of the few forms of motorsports in the world, touring series-wise, that had never run a wing. So, to put a wing on the car is odd for us, but it is not odd to the motorsports community. I think when you look at it, it just gets us up to speed as to what everyone else is running. It's different, but it's good too."

"Bristol is probably the best track to debut the car because the aerodynamic side is so small. I saw Dale Earnhardt almost lap the field one year, after he had been in a crash, with no front fenders and no front end. That tells you that the aero was not as important as the chassis and mechanical side of it. That is still the most important part at Bristol. You know we talk about Daytona, and others, being 90% aerodynamics and 10% engine and 0% mechanical sometimes. You go to Bristol it is more mechanical than anything else. So the guy that gets up on the wheel, the guy that gets his car to drive really well is the one to beat. You can forget the bodies, we all have the same bodies at Bristol."

"I think the place where the bodies will catch up with us is Phoenix. I really look at Phoenix as being the first, true test of the Car of Tomorrow because aerodynamics does play a part there. I think the fans are going to see the same great show they always see at Bristol. We want this Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge to put on the best show."

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Brett Bodine , Kyle Petty