Chicagoland: Kyle Petty preview

'New Scheme for Rest of 2005, Petty Blue Returns' This weekend, Kyle Petty and the ...

'New Scheme for Rest of 2005, Petty Blue Returns'

This weekend, Kyle Petty and the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team head to the 1.5-mile Chicagoland for Sunday's Chicagoland 400. Petty and the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge will have a new look for the rest of the season starting this weekend. Georgia-Pacific will pay tribute to the Petty family by returning the family Petty Blue to the #45 Dodge. The "Petty Blue" color is unmistakable in the minds of race fans across America. The color is synonymous with winning and with Richard Petty's record-tying seven Nextel Cup championships.

Petty, 45, will be making his 731st career start this weekend. He is seventh on the all-time list in NASCAR Cup career starts, and fourth among active drivers. His eight career victories place him 55th on NASCAR's all-time list in Cup wins. One of the most recognizable names in international motorsports, as is his sponsor, Georgia-Pacific, Petty's driving career began with a five-race season in 1979. The native of Level Cross, N.C., has won over $21 million.

The thoughts of Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge driver Kyle Petty heading into Chicagoland:

"I think this is a great idea, and I'm excited about it. You know, Georgia-Pacific has been a partner of ours for a very long time. They helped us out when we first started our Craftsman Truck Series program and have been with us since. They wanted to do something different, something to help celebrate their involvement with Petty Enterprises. They had the idea of returning the Petty Blue to the car and that seemed really fitting."

"We already had a pretty good looking car with the Brawny Dodge, but there's something about that Petty Blue. The fans recognize it and they recognize what it means. The Yankees have the Pinstripes, the Celtics have the parquet floor, and Pettys have the Petty Blue. It's a part of Petty Enterprises. It's a part of our family. Hey, our family invented the color. It's just a big part of who and what we are."

"The sport has changed so much over the years. We had sponsors come in, and we needed sponsors to race. We want to support their products. A part of that was changing a little bit of what we had to make room for guys like STP, Sprint, Georgia-Pacific, and General Mills. We always tried to keep that Petty Blue in the scheme, but we had to make room too. It's a big deal to us when Georgia-Pacific comes to us and wants to bring the Petty Blue back to this '45' Dodge."

"It's good for the fans too - the people in the stands who remember 'The King' racing the Petty Blue Charger, Superbird or whatever, it makes the car more familiar for them. It makes it more personal for them. All of the sudden the car means a little more to them. I think that's what is cool about this. I think that's what is going to really draw the fans to this car. They can relate to the car, look at it, and know the history and tradition of it. That's going to mean a lot the rest of this season."

"Chicago is a great market to debut the car as well. It's a huge market with a tremendous amount of new fans. They look at this 'new' car and maybe they start asking questions. Hopefully they can learn a little bit of the history of Petty Enterprises, and learn what this car resembles and is all about. Chicago, although we've been there a couple of times, it's still a relatively new race for us. We're just starting to crack the potential of what this race can do for the sport."

"It's important for us to really grow into the Chicago area. I think the fans in Joliet (city where Chicagoland is located) are very familiar with racing. They have the drag strip, the dirt track, and the entire motorsports complex. The fans in Chicago are some of the ones we really need to reach. It took some time to get the fans in Los Angeles (Calif.) to really get out to the track in California too. You just have to continue to reach into the city and draw all those fans."

"Dallas and Kansas City really embraced NASCAR when we first came. It took a little bit more work in Los Angeles and Chicago, but I think it's working now. It's a model that we can use to break into the Seattle market or into New York City when we finally get there. The media is really starting to write and report on us. We started there, and we've stuck around and have grown. It has been good for the sport."

"We have a lot of reasons to be excited about this weekend. The new paint scheme, a major market, and a good race too. It's good to kick off this second half of the season at Chicago. We're ready to show is this new Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge. We hope it's going to make a lot of old fans happy and bring a lot of new fans to Petty Enterprises."

- www.pettyracing.com

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Series NASCAR-CUP