Daytona 500: Petty duo - Dodge interview, part 2

Continued from part 1 KYLE PETTY IS THERE SATISFACTION KNOWING YOU'RE BEING ASKED MORE ABOUT RACING NOW? "Obviously there is because that's why we're here. Obviously racing is our core business. It's the nucleus of what we do. It's what we...

Continued from part 1

KYLE PETTY

IS THERE SATISFACTION KNOWING YOU'RE BEING ASKED MORE ABOUT RACING NOW?

"Obviously there is because that's why we're here. Obviously racing is our core business. It's the nucleus of what we do. It's what we have to do. Every time we do something good on the racetrack it benefits the camp. In the past you talk about the camp and try to get things generated about the camp and you're out there struggling sometimes to make things happen at the camp. If you can run good on the racetrack that takes care of it. You get a lot of good publicity because of that. You get a lot of good publicity for the camp. I think it compliments it a lot better."

DO YOU THINK RUNNING BETTER WILL ADD TO ADAM PETTY'S LEGACY?

"Like I told Bobby when he came over, my whole goal for Bobby is to make Petty Enterprises competitive. So when I look and say if Bobby Labonte can win races here, then I know that this is a good enough team that Adam would have had a shot at winning races. Up to this point, I would say even if Adam were Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart or Bobby Labonte, he wouldn't have won any races, either. That makes me sad. That's a sad thing for me to admit and a hurtful thing for me to admit because in a lot of ways I feel like I wouldn't have given him everything he needed to run up front and be a racecar driver. On the back side of that, when this turns around and it will turn around and we start to move forward and when I see the 43 or 45 in victory lane, then I can look back and say, 'yeah, he would have been competitive. He would have won races. That was the best shot. That would have been good for him.' That's the way I look at it."

RICHARD PETTY (Owner Petty Enterprises, a.k.a. The King)

COMMENT ON THE SEASON SO FAR

"We changed a bunch of people, a bunch of people in the pit, a bunch of people on Kyle's team. Really, you're basically looking at two new teams, two different teams anyway. Qualified pretty good, Kyle had a little trouble, but he was running pretty good. Then they ran pretty decent in the race yesterday. I think everybody feels really enthusiastic about it, especially here. We tested in Vegas and stuff and it was terrible. I don't know how that's going to work out, but here they've been running decent. This is the best we've run down here, probably since they went to the restrictor plates. We're pretty happy with the way things are going right now."

COMMENT ON 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF 1976 DAYTONA 500

"I've been fortunate to win seven (Daytona) 500s down here. More people remember the '76 race that I lost than any of the ones we won I think. It was a typical Richard Petty-David Pearson deal at that time. We were probably two of the most dominant cars through those years right in there. It came down to the last lap. Pearson passed me down the backstretch, which I knew he was going to do. I was able to get under him going into three. I guess he ran a little faster down the backstretch than he'd been doing and drifted a little high and I got under him. I pretty much thought I'd cleared him coming off the corner because I thought if I pulled out in front of him he couldn't have a chance to draft back by me, but I lacked about six inches. He hit the wall and hit me and all heck broke loose then. It was one of the deals. I made a mistake or he made a mistake. It was one of those racing deals. I wound up second sitting in the infield. I told Donnie and Cale when they wrecked in '79 and we got lucky and won that race. I told them 'ya'll ain't got no class. Ya'll wrecked on the backstretch. Me and Pearson wrecked where everybody could see what was going on.'"

COMMENT ON CHEATING

"The way NASCAR's got the rules and stuff now it's getting tougher and tougher to get by with it. They've got something to check just about everything. It's a little tougher for us to bend the rules. In fact, way back they had a few rules and you got between the rules and sometimes you'd get by with stuff. I always told my guys, 'cheat neat and you'll get by with a bunch of stuff.' Those days are pretty much over. It's so technical. I don't think some of the guys working on the car even understand what's going on because that's how technical it got. As time progresses all of us are going to go as close to pushing the rules as we can. I don't particular tell my guys to cheat. I just tell them not to get caught."

COMMENT ON SUNDAY'S 48th ANNUAL DAYTONA 500

"I've been here since they started this stuff, and this is probably one of the few times I've been here that there wasn't one or two teams I thought was dominant or a little bit better than everybody else. I think this is probably as even a field as I can remember. There's usually somebody that's got one that's a little bit better than everybody. Sometimes they come down here and they're a whole lot better than other people. I see two or three cars that are really good, but they're not really dominating a whole lot. When they do that, that just leaves a wide open race I think. Just like the race yesterday. Bobby started up front and was able to stay there. Kyle had trouble qualifying and he started in the back and stayed back there. He got lucky at the last and got to the front. That's the race is going to go. If you watch the race, they run five laps and everybody is in line. They run five or six more laps and they start jockeying around and after about 20 laps everybody is just running. The cars go away and all that. It's just according to how you settle down in the race. If it's hot it's one thing. If it's a cool day it's another. Both of those races yesterday to my knowledge was screwed up because they had to run a green-white-checkered. That just takes racing away from everything. Hopefully we don't run into that and they're able to go ahead and run the whole race."

HAS IT BEEN DIFFICULT DEALING WITH PETTY ENTERPRISES LACK OF SUCCESS?

"If you get in a habit of doing something, it's like everything else. Our team was pretty much in the habit of being competitive everywhere we went. I lost the edge basically for Petty Enterprises along in the mid 80s and we just never got it back, no matter who was driving or whatever. We lost a lot of deals when the big corporations came in with the Penskes, Hendrick, Roush. They came in and not that they beat you with the car deals, they've got a background behind them. We're in the racing business and we don't have anything past the racing business. These other people came in and they've got things beyond racing. Racing is sort of a sideline to them even though it's a big business. It's not that they draw monies out of their other businesses, but they know so many people in so many different walks of life that they can tap in to. When they tap into that, that makes them a stronger team even though we've got the same amount of money. They can tap into the different layers of things in their business. They know somebody that knows somebody and we lost out on that in the mid 80s. A lot of them also looked a little further down the line in the future than we did. We always did everything out of Level Cross, N.C., in the backyard and we were fairly successful with the thing. Then it started being a bigger and bigger business. It started going and brining more people in, more money, more technology, that kind of stuff. We still sat there in the backyard. By the time we got ready to do something about it, we were so far behind on our money and our engineering and all that stuff it's just taken us a little time to get going. I compare it a whole lot to the New York Yankees or Green Bay. They had their ups and downs. Not that they didn't spend money to do the deal, that was just a trend of the times. Hopefully our wheel will turn back around and we'll be back on top again."

HOW DO YOU LOOK AT PEOPLE THAT TURN IN CHEATERS?

"The FBI and all that, half the people they catch are informants and I think NASCAR is in the same situation. I think they get informed on this stuff almost as much as they catch. I don't know if they catch 50 percent. I would think it'd be like anything else. You get a crew and they get to working on one little thing and they keep massaging it and then they go into cheating deal. You've got these inspectors that have to inspect 50 cars. It's kind of hard to inspect every little thing on every one of them. When NASCAR inspects, I don't know how they do it, but the way it looks they say 'OK, we're going to check this, this and this really close this week.' Next week they might not even check that. They might check that, that and that because they can't check 1000 things precisely every game. I think they get told on about as much as anything else."

WHY IS CHEATING TOLERATED IN NASCAR?

"It's been tolerated because there's not a one of us in the garage area that hasn't pushed the limit whether they got caught or not. Everybody tries to get the advantage, and I think that's just the competitiveness in our sport. On the racetrack they try to get the best driver and the crew tries to give themselves the very best over everybody else. I think it's just tolerated through the deal. Every once in awhile we'll get excited when we get too far out of line with the cheating deal, but everything they catch people with now is strictly technical. It's not an all-out deal like dumping lead or running big gas tanks or that kind of stuff, big motors, that stuff has passed us. A sixteenth of an inch here or a 32nd there, that's how close they're checking these cars."

COMMENT ON SWITCHING TO CAR OF THE FUTURE

"For us to go to the new car in my figuring is going to cost us no more than what we're doing right now because everybody gets new cars every year even though it's the same model they've been running the last eight or nine years. We didn't change in '81. We'd been running 115, 116-inch wheelbase. All of a sudden they come out and say 'OK, we're going to run 110 inch wheelbase, it's going to be 60 inches wide and it's going to weigh 3,400 pounds' without a whole lot of warning -- about six months. They said this is what you're going to run. We went flogging and flogging and came down here and there was very little testing. We just came and did it. We turned 'em loose down here and the cars were really loose. They needed more spoiler and the cars were still loose. They put some more spoiler on it and finally got the cars settled down and ran a decent race. That part of thing can still be done and still needs to be done. When they first started with the car of the future, from what little I know they said 'let's build the safety into it and then we'll build the car around it.' Now I think they've got into the deal where they think they've got some of the stuff save. As far as I'm concerned they're working on the bodies and stuff, doing things they shouldn't even mess with. They should make the thing look like a box, make it safe and then just turn it loose. Where I was coming back to expense, and this is my opinion on expense, if I'm going to build five new cars for this coming year, I just as well build those five cars. It's not going to cost me any more. It's going to cost the same amount. If they do this thing and do it like it should be done and make the car straight up where they don't cheat the body, don't let 'em roll the fenders and all that stuff, then instead of us having 15 cars we can get by with seven or eight cars. It's going to be cheaper automatic if they can run the same car at Daytona and we can go to Charlotte and run the same car and not have to have a special car. If we can run the car at Martinsville and then go to Charlotte and run it, or take the Charlotte car and go run a road course, that's where they're going to save money if they would do it and do my suggestion. That's the way I would do it. The car is the cheapest thing we show up at the racetrack with. Everything else costs more than the car."

HOW DO SPONSORS VIEW CHEATING?

"They caught me infringing just a little bit with soft tires and a big motor. At that time, we were working with STP and they loved it because it was in the newspaper and they were getting their name out there and they loved it. It would not work with Cheerios. They're on the other side of the table. Sometimes it might be kind of a gray area there as far as your sponsor is concerned. One tolerated it one way and the other one wouldn't tolerate it. Time is different now also because you're talking about 20 years ago or something like that. I think a lot of things we did has been built off those legends of what people did or what they did to get by with just to make history out of it. Right now we're making history for 10 years on down the road, but we're really not concerned with it."

-dodge motorsports-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Richard Petty , David Pearson