KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Sprint Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Petty will make his 600th career start in Sunday's Pepsi 400 presented by Meijer at MIS. The 41-year-old driver from Randleman, N.C., has eight career victories and eight career poles ...
(No. 45 Sprint Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Petty will make his 600th career start in Sunday's Pepsi 400 presented by Meijer at MIS. The 41-year-old driver from Randleman, N.C., has eight career victories and eight career poles along with 51 top five and 167 top-10 finishes. Forty of Petty's 599 starts have been at MIS. He has 10 top-10 finishes at Michigan and finished 27th here in June. Petty will start 36th in Sunday's 43-car field, and he was eighth fastest in Saturday morning's practice.
"I got caught in a fast draft with Sterling Marlin when practice first started. The 21 car was in it and a couple other cars that qualified real good. We were OK when practice first started. The car was pretty decent. We made some changes and it was still good at the end, but everybody slowed down a lot. We just busted off a lap real quick. The car is as good or better as it was up here the last race, but that was with our qualifying motor. We'll know better this afternoon.
"The car is different (with the Dodge rule change). We came with the same car that we had last time with the same springs and shocks and front end settings and we had to change a bunch of stuff. This was a good baseline for us. No matter what the wind tunnel says, no matter what everything else says, this shows you how much a change it was. We've had to adjust accordingly. We weren't on top of it yesterday. We weren't as good out here yesterday as we were the first race (qualified 22nd). We got a little better this morning and those two extra inches make a big difference. We're just going to have to work with it. You feel it a little in traffic, and you feel a little bit when you're by yourself. It's not drastic either way, but you know you've got a little bit of help there and that's the main thing. Even you couldn't feel it, you know you got a little bit of help and it helps you mentally.
"I guess my 600th career start means I've been here too long. The cool part about doing that for me is just being around all these people. To have been here for that many starts and to have raced against that many guys that have come along, it's pretty cool. That's the part I enjoy. At the same time, it's hard for me to believe that they let me hang out with them for 600 starts, too, because they should have sent me home a long time ago. It is a pretty big deal. I guess it's a milestone you don't really look at. You don't set out and start doing that. I missed a bunch of races back in '89 and '90. In '89 when I started with Felix and '91 when I messed up my leg. We just sat out some. I've missed a bunch the last couple of years just because I missed races. It probably should have come a lot quicker, but it wasn't something that you were trying to do. You just kind of ended up with it.
"I've got a few more years. I just turned 41, so I've got a few more years no matter what. Maybe I'll get to 650 anyhow. I'll more than likely continue as a car owner when I quit driving. I don't know if we'll have three cars or 10 cars then. We may be back down to one and me searching for a driver to drive because nobody wants to drive for me. If we can get this thing turned around, then that's what I'll end up being.
"We can have a good run Sunday. For our team, a good solid run is anything better than 25th. There's not incredibly high expectations going into the deal. You look at Sterling's team and some of the other Dodge teams and some of the Ford and GM teams and you say, 'hey, a good solid run for me is a top five or a top 10.' The way we've been missing races and the way we've been having trouble like last week. We had a good top 10 car last week and the distributor breaks on the thing and you end up out of the race. All we need to do is just finish a race no matter where it's at.
"John (Petty Enterprises teammate Andretti) could be OK. I'm not sure he's a contender yet, but you'd like to think he's got a good top five or top 10 car. Hopefully by the end of the year we'll get him where he's a contender week in and week out. He was good at Bristol last time, and we were good there. We broke a motor up there, and John ran all day long. He got in the wall at the end and still ended up second. That race track seems to be an equalizer. No matter how much downforce and how much horsepower or how much anything you've got it comes back down to being in the right place and some things working out for you. Hopefully a team like ours can win there."