Petty Focused on Strong Finish; Team Prepares for Final Dodge Avenger Race of 2007 This weekend, Kyle Petty and the ...
Petty Focused on Strong Finish; Team Prepares for Final Dodge Avenger Race of 2007
This weekend, Kyle Petty and the #45 Wells Fargo Dodge team will travel to the one-mile Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway for Sunday's Checker Auto Parts 500. Only two races remain in the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup season.
Phoenix is an important event because it is the last race of the season for the Dodge Avenger. Next year the Avenger will make its full-time debut in the Sprint Cup Series. This race will complete the #45 team's notes package on the new car, which will prove to be invaluable during off-season testing and meetings.
Petty is one of five current Nextel Cup competitors that competed in the first race at Phoenix in 1988. This experience will be crucial as he looks to improve on his 34th place standing on the Nextel Cup owner point's battle. Petty is only 101 points behind 32nd place in those standings.
Petty has made 21 starts at Phoenix. His best finish of 3rd came in 1999. Petty has also garnered four top-ten finishes and he has led 12 laps at the desert track.
Comments from Petty as he prepares for the Checker Auto Parts 500:
"Texas was disappointing, definitely, because we had a good car. The chassis was great and it was really responsive to the changes we made. We were making small changes, nothing big. The car was fast in final practice, but the race conditions were a little different. We were trying to hit that right combination, and we were getting close. Unfortunately the '40' had a left rear tire let go and he got into us. My guys really worked the car over and tried to get us back out, but man, it was pretty used up. We took a small hit in owner points, but we can get it back."
"Phoenix is up this weekend, and I have always liked racing out there. A lot of the tracks that we go to are so similar, but Phoenix is pretty unique. Each end of the track is different and they usually get sunlight at different times. That really forces you to pick an end that you want to work on and then find a compromise for the other. The dogleg on the backstretch can get exciting too. Wells Fargo also has a huge presence in Phoenix, so it is cool to race in front of all those employees."
"This weekend will give us a chance to put the Dodge Avenger through its paces one more time. It's hard to believe that we will be done with our first season with the new car. Even though it wasn't a full season, we all learned a lot about what the car needs. That's why this is an important race, it will wrap up what I consider our 'classroom' session with the Avenger. Then we'll go into the off-season to study and get ready for our test. Our test will be the 2008 season when we run the car full-time."
"We've made a lot of strides with the Avenger this year. It took some time, but the guys working on these cars are very intelligent. There was a lot of apprehension coming into this year about the new car. But, you know, I think everyone figured out that it is not as bad as they thought it would be. It just takes a different mindset with the Avenger, a different way of going about your setups."
"Billy (Wilburn) and I have worked well this season. He's had a lot thrown at him with a new car, plus he has worked with three different drivers. But we've had some good runs. Everybody looks at the third place finish at Charlotte, and that was great, but we've been strong at several tracks this season. We just need to finish the season strong. With Phoenix and Homestead coming up we have two tracks where we can do that."