Richmond II: Kyle Petty - NASCAR spotlight

Resurgent Kyle Petty returns to Richmond, site of first NASCAR Winston Cup Series victory. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 4, 2002) - The NASCAR Winston Cup Series has a rich history. Many of the most significant contributions to that history have...

Resurgent Kyle Petty returns to Richmond, site of first NASCAR Winston Cup Series victory.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 4, 2002) - The NASCAR Winston Cup Series has a rich history. Many of the most significant contributions to that history have been made by the Petty family.

Which brings us to Richmond International Raceway, site of Saturday night's race, the Monte Carlo 400 with the Looney Tunes - The Rematch. Richmond is one of the most historical stops on the circuit. Again, one can credit the Pettys.

Seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Richard Petty holds the record for Richmond victories, with 13. Petty Enterprises likewise leads the car owners victory list, with 15 - family patriarch Lee Petty had two wins.

There is, however, one other Petty victory to consider, when assessing the family's legacy at Richmond. There even is a touch of trivia involved.

Q: What Petty victory at Richmond came in a car not owned by the Petty organization?

A: Kyle Petty's, in the 1986 Miller High Life 400.

But by no means was the accomplishment trivial.

The victory was Kyle's first in NASCAR Winston Cup racing, making him the first third-generation driver to win in NASCAR's premier series. A footnote: It also stands as the only Richmond victory for another legendary group, the Wood Brothers.

Petty, driver of the No. 45 Sprint Dodge, returns to Richmond this week amid a career resurgence. Coming off a solid 13th-place finish last Sunday in the Mountain Dew Southern 500 - his ninth top-15 of the season - Petty is 23rd in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings, only 26 points out of the top 20. Petty is bidding for his best points finish since 1997 when he finished 15th. He's also looking like a good bet to qualify for series sponsor R.J. Reynolds' season-ending point fund payout, which handsomely rewards the top 25 in points.

RIR would seem like a place to continue the upswing - and remind people of the glorious Petty past.

"A fan from Virginia came up to me [one day] and said,' You know, the Pettys were always good at Richmond... always good,''' Kyle said."I got to thinking. Yeah, the Pettys were always good at Richmond but they were always good everywhere. Still, there were some tracks where you just knew, if nothing went wrong, one of the Petty cars was going to be hauling the trophy back home at the end of the day.

"Richmond used to be one of those places where Petty Enterprises was the favorite just by pulling into the place."

Richmond racing has been run with a variety of track configurations and measurements since the inaugural race in 1953 (on a dirt half-mile), won by Lee Petty. The latest configuration, .75-mile, was instituted in 1988. A Petty hasn't won at RIR since' 86.

But then, Kyle hasn't won anywhere since 1995, which makes his return to on-track respectability this season all the more impressive. Petty Enterprises, make no mistake, is starting to again attract attention. For example, an announcement by the organization scheduled for Saturday at Richmond is being greatly anticipated. Petty Enterprises appears to be working itself back into the competitive mix of modern-day NASCAR Winston Cup racing.

And what better place to highlight that than Richmond, a place that helped form NASCAR's foundation, with the Pettys central to the task.

"A lot of places we go," Kyle said,"I have people come up and say,' I saw your daddy race and he did this or won that.' When the Virginia fans come up they start out by saying"I saw your granddaddy race.' Most of them have been fans for a long, long time."

-nascar-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kyle Petty , Richard Petty , Lee Petty