Kyle Petty - Dodge teleconference

Dodge Motorsports Media Teleconference Tuesday, July 19,2005 Kyle Petty Transcript - Pocono Advance KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Georgia Pacific/Brawny Dodge Charger) -- Note: Kyle Petty will make NASCAR Nextel Cup career start number 733...

Dodge Motorsports Media Teleconference
Tuesday, July 19,2005
Kyle Petty Transcript - Pocono Advance

KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Georgia Pacific/Brawny Dodge Charger) --

Note: Kyle Petty will make NASCAR Nextel Cup career start number 733 at Pocono Raceway this weekend. He ranks seventh all-time in most Cup career starts. Petty won the spring race at Pocono in 1993 after leading 148 laps. He earned his best finish this year at Bristol, where he finished eighth.

On the Chick-fil-A® Kyle Petty Charity ride:

"This is our 11th year, and obviously, it's the Chick-fil-A® Kyle Petty Charity Ride now. We're excited about this year because, in the past, when we've run the charity ride we've had to go from either San Francisco or from Southern California and we've left according to the race schedule. We just basically left after the race and would ride motorcycles back to North Carolina. That's how simple the charity ride really is. We'd stop at a few Children's Hospitals along the way, and we used to end up at our farm with a concert. But now, all of that has kind of changed. When the schedule changed this year, we really didn't have an open week after any of the California races. So, it kind of put us in a bind, since we're running from Pocono and the Charity ride is leaving from Portland, Ore. So, basically, what we're going to do is we're going to leave when the race is over with and fly out and meet everybody out in Idaho Falls. They leave on Saturday when we're in Pocono, they leave Portland and they go to Boise (Idaho), and from Boise to Idaho Falls (Idaho), Sunday night. And that's where we meet with them. Then on Monday we ride from Idaho falls to Cody (Wyo.) and then from Cody, Wyo., to Deadwood, S.D., and then from Deadwood to Sioux Falls, S.D., and then from Sioux Falls to Burlington, Iowa., and then from Iowa on into Louisville, Ky., and then from Louisville to Knoxville, (Tenn.) and from Knoxville back to the Victory Junction Gang Camp. It ends up being a nine day ride because we end up Saturday and Sunday, while we're racing they're riding, but for all of us it ends up being a seven day ride. We're pretty excited about this year because we're coming through parts of the country up in Wyoming and South Dakota and parts of Iowa and Minnesota that we've never been through before on the Charity Ride. So, we're hitting a different part of the country this year."

"Yeah, there's no time off this year. But, all of the open weeks came off early in the year, and it was too cold to ride motorcycles back and forth across the country then. This is the only week we had. This will be our 11th year, and we've raised, I don't know, six or seven million dollars for different charities. It's one of those deals that just got up and got going and it's a lot of fun. And this year we're really excited that Matt Kenseth is going with us, and Jeff Green, and obviously my father and Harry Gant and those guys. But, we were kind of caught off guard a couple of weeks ago, Tony Stewart drug his motorcycle over here and we loaded it up on the truck and sent it out. So, he's riding for two or three days with us. So, it's going to be exciting to have some new blood on the ride, here. And when you're a rookie on the ride, they're going to give Tony a hard time for the first couple of days, that's for sure.

Regarding updates on the 2006 sponsors for the No. 45 Dodge Charger:

"Hopefully, before too much longer we'll be able to make some announcements. When Georgia Pacific chose not to come back next year as the primary sponsor, we really knew part of it last year, and we started working on a totally different program more in line with some of the stuff that the Roush organization has done with multiple sponsors and grouping multiple sponsors together. Sometimes that's easier said than done. But, what we really want to do is have a format that really promotes a couple of different other things besides the racecar. And I think that's what we're working on right now. And when we get all of our partners put together and we make the announcement and we lay it out for everybody, everybody will see it's a variation on some of the things that have already been done, but it's a little bit different than something that hasn't been done in this sport before."

Changes the No. 45 team is looking in order to get a jump start on the '06 season? On reports that you made a deal to use a wind tunnel in Germany?

"And that was blown way out of proportion, because all of that's not exactly true, what was written there and said there. I think, basically for us, we're trying to get through '05 here. And with the influx of Ray's engines, with Evernham Motorsports' engines, it really, I've got to admit, that it probably spun us out a little bit more than what we thought it would. Last year, we felt like we fought being down on power all year long. And some of the setups and some of the stuff we've run, we could make work with the power we had. Now that we've got a little bit more power, we're struggling with our setups, and struggling with some of that. At the same time, as the aero-ball has moved forward from being X to Y to Z, we've had to catch up with that too. We've struggled a little bit with that. And that's where our scale model has come in and some of the other things that we do here. Dodge has been really, really good to help us. And Ray (Evernham) has gone over and above to kind of help us and keep us more in the game. And I think a lot of stuff that we've been doing this year has really not showed up on the racetrack, as usual. And that's frustrating for us, because we feel like we make progress here at the shop, but we just can't get it to transfer to the racetrack. That's incredibly frustrating for everybody at Petty Enterprises, and it's frustrating for the people at Dodge and for all of the other partners we have. But, I think from the big picture, right now we're sitting here in 2005 with 16-17 races to go, and we're looking at that. We've got to get the most out of these last 16-17 races, but at the same time we've got to start preparing for next year. And then we've got to start preparing for '07, and start looking at the car of the future, or the 'car of tomorrow' as NASCAR calls it. We've got to start looking at that. Like a lot of teams, there's a lot on the table other than just dragging your car to the racetrack and racing it on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You've got to start planning and trying to phase out one type of car for next year and phase in another kind of car in 2007 and 2008. For teams like us, that have struggled, it's a heavy burden. But, from a sponsorship standpoint and a couple of different other things that we're working on, we feel like we're getting ready to be put in a position where we're going to be a lot better off overall than what we've been over the last couple of years. And, hopefully, the stuff that we are doing, whether it be wind tunnel, or whether it be engineering, whether it be working closer with Ray and working closer with Dodge, I think we'll be better off come 2006-2007.

In what way was the wind tunnel story exaggerated?

"Dodge, obviously is owned by DaimlerChrysler. And when you look at that, then obviously, there's a lot of stuff from CFD modeling to a lot of stuff that every manufacturer does, whether it be Ford, whether it be Chevy, whether it be Dodge, or whether it be Toyota, you can throw them in the mix... There's a lot of stuff that gets done overseas, whether it be in Japan for Toyota, that finds its way to the Truck Series or the Busch Series and a lot of different things. And I think a lot of that was blown out of proportion because it was really just a program that's been in existence, probably, ever since Dodge really jumped into the program. With their CFD programs and some of the other stuff that they've done, it's just more information that just gets funneled to the teams. And the information that got funneled from other there was not specifically a Petty Enterprises car, or specifically a Dodge car or a NASCAR-type thing. It was just information that was coming from DaimlerChrysler and from Dodge and from their technical aspects that was funneling down to all of the teams. And I don't know how we got singled out as the specific car and the specific team."

How treacherous was Watkins Glen's turn five before they put the chicane in?

"I never thought it was treacherous, so that's probably a hard question. It was just part of the racetrack. The part of the corner that was treacherous was the runoff area -- there was no runoff. I think if you go down into turn one with the sand traps and the gravel traps that they installed later -- and I think that they've eliminated some of that now -- but I think those sand traps that they put down there and those gravel pits were a huge safety feature that Watkins Glen put in. If we had had that back 10-12 years ago with Tommy Kendall and with J.D. McDuffie and some of that, then maybe we wouldn't have had the accidents that we've had there. But the problem was not the corner itself, or the speed that you approach the corner, it was that you had no margin for error. If something did happen, there was no escape. It was just head-on into the tire barrier and into the wall down there. That created a bad thing. And I think what the chicane did, and we probably have more accidents in the chicane than we ever had in the corner itself, but they're just not bad accidents.

They removed the sand trap in turn 1. Is that good/bad for the stock cars?

"You can look at it both ways, good and bad. If you spin out in there you're going to say, 'Good,' because you're going to be able to keep going. If the guy you were racing spins out in there, obviously, bad for you because he's going to get going and come chase you back down again. So, you could eliminate people by when they jump out in the sand trap because when you were out there, you were stuck -- that's all there is to it. But, I think the sand trap in turn one has been good for Cup racing. I think we can go back and look at some of the accidents that happened with Jimmy Johnson and some of the guys who have spun out in there and it slowed them down before they got to the wall and before they got to the tire barrier. I think the sand trap in the past has saved a lot of injury and maybe a couple of lives because of it. We'll just have to wait and see how the pavement plays out, I guess."

Is Pocono tough to drive on because of the demand on the cars/tires?

"No, not really. Pocono is a fun place to drive, because it's a cross between what we do every week, the oval type racing, and it's got more of a road course or short track feel to it also because all three corners are different. A lot of the tire trouble that we experienced last time -- let's just be honest about this -- you can't really blame it on the racetrack and you can't really blame it on the tire companies. I think the teams have to shoulder a lot of the burden for the tire trouble that we had. If you go back and really look at when tire trouble happened, what happened, mostly it was left-fronts and left-rears and mostly it was within the first five or 10 laps after a pit stop. And what happens is, Goodyear gives you a recommended tire pressure, whether it be 25 or 30 lbs. But, what you'll do, as a team and as a driver a lot of times, you'll drop that tire pressure as much as 10 or 12 lbs to account for buildup. So, if you start at 15 lbs, then you build up 15 lbs, then now you're back to 30, and that's Goodyear's recommended tire. But, if you start at 30 and build up 15, you're at 45, so you're way over their recommended tire pressure. So, a lot of teams start with low pressures and let the tires build up. And we do it on every other track there is. The problem is, when we got to Pocono with the curbing and some of the things that happened, you took lower air pressure, a little bit higher curbing, guys really wanting to blast off into the corner and run as hard as they could on new tires... We really just tore the tires apart. It wasn't that the tires came apart, we tore the tires apart. That's why I say the teams and the drivers have to shoulder the burden for that. You can't pump that on Pocono and you can't throw it over onto the tire company. I think we have to look at it like that. So, I don't think it's any harder to run at any other place, or any harder on tires than any other place. It's just if you do what's right, you're not going to have those issues. If you use a product that designed one way, and you use it in another way then, obviously, you're going to have issues with that."

How has TV re-shaped the sport since the current package began in 2001?

"Man, we probably don't have enough time on this call. In so many different ways... I think, financially, they've totally changed the face of the sport for teams and stuff. Even though, I think a lot of teams still don't feel to this day that the trickle down from the money that the competitors are getting their fair shake of the money. If you talk to a lot of the owners, I think they still feel that way. But still, we're making more money than we've ever made in this sport -- from a driver's standpoint, from a team standpoint. I think more people are watching this sport than have ever watched it before. People still don't think there's such a thing as a casual Nextel Cup fan. More people are visually seeing the sport in some way shape or form than they've ever seen this sport before because it's in so many more households than it's ever been. So, I think, obviously, that changed, that TV package, that changed that part of it, where it changed our sponsors. The sponsors, you go back to the beginning where there was no such thing as a 12 or 15 million dollar sponsorship, really. We were just beginning to tickle the nine and 10 million dollars, so I think it's driven that up too because you're able to give your sponsor so much more exposure from a TV perspective. And, from the times that the races start, instead of starting at 12:30, now they're starting at 2:30 and 3:00 in the afternoons. From some of the other TV programs that go on around them, whether it be on SPEED Channel or whether it be on some of the other channels, some of the pre-race and post-race shows that they have now. I think it's totally changed the way that the general public perceives the sport. They look at it more, in a lot of ways it's packaged more like an NFL or an NBA or that type of sport. And before it wasn't packaged that way. So, I think the packaging and how they present it has just changed the perception of what the general public sees this sport as."

Where has TV made its greatest impact? Is there more external pressure on drivers because of it?

"I think it goes back to, okay, if a sponsor is paying you 12 or 15 million dollars a year, and you're not performing, and everybody in the country knows you're not performing, then they want another driver. So, I think it has led the sponsors to probably have a little bit more say so, or have exerted a little bit more influence into the sport. And I think that's one thing that the TV package has done. If you've got a guy sitting in Maine, let's just say, who never comes to a race but he owns a company and he sees his car riding around in California and it's not winning, then he wants another driver. He may never come to a race, but he still wants another driver. I think what it's done is, when you look at the driver shuffles and you look at the things that happen to drivers moving from team to team to team, and bringing new drivers in and old drivers, obviously, stepping aside, it's two-fold. It is evolutionary, that's just part of this sport -- out with the old and in with the new. It's cyclical, and that's about the time for guys to start stepping out. So, there are guys that start stepping out. But at the same time, you're going to see young guys that get one shot at it, and then they're not going to come back again. And that's because of the sponsors, not because of the teams. That's because the pressure to perform is greater because of the sponsors because of the exposure."

On your guitar collection:

"I wouldn't call it a collection, I'd just call it a bunch of old guitars, basically. And most everything that I've got is old Gibsons, from about '64 and before, a bunch of pre-war Gibsons. I've probably got 15 maybe 18 guitars. My favorite is a sunburst Hummingbird that I learned to play on when I was about 12 years old. And I got it from a guy who was a preacher named Bill Frasier. And that's probably about as cool as anything else because you end up with a guitar from a traveling preacher. And that's just what I've always just kind of picked with and played with, were old Gibsons guitars more so than anything else. I've got a couple of Martins. I've got some electric stuff. I know, to commemorate Chet Atkins, Gretsch Made a guitar called the Country Gentlemen, which is a pretty nice guitar. And I've got one of those that's an older guitar, and it was expensive when I bought it 25 years ago. I don't get to play as much as I used to. I still carry a guitar around on the bus with me, but you don't have time for that much anymore.

What are your favorite moments in a typical week?

"Mine are probably between 11 at night and six in the morning, when I get to sleep. That's my favorite moment of the week. I'll tell you what, this time of year is just hard on everybody. It's hard on drivers, it's hard on teams. A couple weeks ago, if we go back right before Chicago, I know myself and Dave Blaney and Travis Kvapil and our teams, we all tested at Milwaukee. Then we went to Chicago to race, then we left Chicago and went to Indy to test. Then we left Indy and went to New Hampshire to race. Some of our teams and some of our engineers, obviously, left New Hampshire and went back to Indy to test with the other team, and the same with some in the Penske organization and some in the Childress organization. At the same time you've got Blaney, who owns his own racetrack and runs some of that stuff too. That's just the racing side of it. Then you throw in the appearances you do for Dodge, or the appearances that you do for Coca-Cola and your sponsors and stuff. I think your favorite time of week is always when you're able to get in the car on Sundays and drive. That's why you do everything else you do. It's all about getting into that car at about 12:30 or 1:00 on a Sunday afternoon and being able to go out there and race and do what you truly love to do. It's like what I tell people all the time, when I was a little boy dreaming about being Richard Petty, I didn't dream about signing autographs and making personal appearances. I dreamed about riding around Daytona, or riding around Charlotte, or racing at different racetracks. I dreamed about being in a race car. I think that's the part that, still, no matter how old you get as a driver that's always your favorite part."

Can you describe the Tony Stewart that you know?

"We can pick Tony out of the batch and speak about Tony. But, you can talk about Bill Elliott. You can talk about Kasey Kahne, Casey Mears. You can talk about Rusty Wallace, it doesn't make any difference. Who these guys are on the racetrack is not who they are off the racetrack. That's what I've always tried to tell people when I go and do speeches or I go talk. And you're out and somebody will start booing Jeff Gordon or they don't like this guy Jimmy Johnson, or whatever. Look, what he does is not necessarily who he is any more than what you guys do, or what the general public does. Just because you have a job, whether it be at a paper, or whether you have a job making coffee at Starbucks, it doesn't make any difference. That's your job. It's not who you are. I think that's the biggest thing about Tony. Tony is a racecar driver, and when he's at the racetrack he's one of the most intense individuals there is. But when you get him away from the racetrack, and the times that he's been at camp with us with the kids, and the things that he's done for the camp, he's one of the most caring guys you'll ever be around. And, 99.9 percent of these race car drivers are the same. Tonight is NASCAR night at Camp. And tonight Jeremy Mayfield is coming to camp and hanging out with the kids, and riding horses and fishing and doing all of that stuff. And you see Jeremy Mayfield go door-to-door with somebody and lean on somebody... Since we're going to Pocono, everybody remembers Jeremy giving Earnhardt, Sr., that tap and knocking him out of the way in turn three to win his race. And the Jeremy Mayfield that did that is not the Jeremy Mayfield that will be at camp tonight fishing with these kids. That's kind of the way Tony is. He's one of the most caring individuals that you'll ever run across. He cares what people think about him. Even though he tries to have that little bit of a gruff demeanor sometimes, he cares about you think about him, and he cares what these kids think about him. And he cares about how he's going to be seen in the future. And, as a racecar driver, he's always going to be one of the greatest racecar drivers that's come through this type of racing in the Nextel Cup Series. But at the same time, he's a guy that's always given back."

Is driving still as much fun as it was when you first started?

"The driving part is still, yeah. The driving part is still always as much fun, even when you have a bad day driving. It's like we all joke, it's all smoke and mirrors, a bad day driving is still better than having a real job. So, the driving part is still just as much fun. And, there's guys who are stepping aside, Mark and Rusty, obviously. And then you've got myself. And you've got Sterling, Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd. There's guys that are our age that are 45 to 50 years old, that yeah, over the next four or five years, not only are we going to step out, we should be stepping out. Because there are guys coming along like the Kasey Kahnes, like the Reed Sorensons, guys like that who are going to be stepping in. You can't just keep taking up a seat for ever and ever until the end of time. You've got to let somebody else have a seat. I think, from that perspective, yeah you look at it and the closer you get to it you look at it. But at the same time, it's not something I think about every day because my main objective right now is to make sure that we build Petty Enterprises back to a state where we can go get young drivers who can come out and be competitive and hopefully compete and win races. But, if we're not at that stage, then we're not going to get good, young drivers and that's a problem for our company. So, I look at that as much as anything.

Do you have any opinion on the Kentucky Speedway lawsuit vs. NASCAR? Do you see that as a trend of copycat lawsuits?

"I don't know. I don't have an opinion. We are competitors. And my point on that is if they tell me tomorrow that next year we're going to go over here to Iowa and we're just going to race in the middle of a big field, then that's where we're going to be because if we want points and we want to get paid then that's where we're going to have to race. So, it's not an issue. If they want to race in Kentucky, by God, we'll haul all of our stuff to Kentucky and race. If they want to go to Texas 20 times, then we'll come to Texas and race 20 times. It doesn't make any difference if that's a part of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series schedule. So, I think from our perspective, from a competitor's perspective, I don't really have an opinion on it. I hate to see our sport get to a point where people start having to sue people to get dates, and people start having to sue people to get out of rides, and people start having to sue people to keep their jobs. Because then, once we cross that threshold then we're just like any stick and ball sport, where we spend as much time in court and as much time on the legal page as we spend in the sports page. And I don't think that's good for the sport in the overall picture. Whether it's a copycat lawsuit or not, I have no opinion one way or another. Kentucky has been a great place for us to go test. The people up there are incredible people to work with. I've got nothing bad to say about the people that run the racetrack or the racetrack itself. And they put on good Busch races and good truck races. But has the racetrack in Nashville, and so has others racetracks like Milwaukee. There's other racetracks around the country that are probably just as deserving of a date. So, if it gets in to all of these tracks suing, then I don't know where that's going to lead."

-dodge-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Kyle Petty , Jeff Green , Casey Mears , Richard Petty , Kasey Kahne , Dave Blaney , Harry Gant , J.D. McDuffie