'The Growth of Texas' This weekend, Kyle Petty and the ...
'The Growth of Texas'
This weekend, Kyle Petty and the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team head to the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway, located in the city of Ft. Worth, for Sunday's Dickies 500. This is the first season that Texas Motor Speedway has hosted two Nextel Cup races.
Petty, 45, will be making his 746th career start this weekend. He is seventh on the all-time list in NASCAR Cup career starts, and fourth among active drivers. His eight career victories place him 55th on NASCAR's all-time list in Cup wins. One of the most recognizable names in international motorsports, as is his sponsor, Georgia-Pacific, Petty's driving career began with a five-race season in 1979. The native of Level Cross, N.C., has won over $21 million.
The thoughts of Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge driver Kyle Petty heading into Texas:
"You have to give a lot of credit to Bruton (Chairman of the Board Bruton Smith) and Eddie (President and General Manager Eddie Gossage) for building a track, overcoming some early problems, and now hosting two Nextel Cup events in a season. I think that really shows that this is a great track. I think these guys have built something special for race fans in Texas. We don't see many tracks get two dates in season anymore, but Texas Motor Speedway has been able to do that successfully.
"Texas is having no problems doing it. The place sells out every time. There are some extremely passionate NASCAR fans in the state of Texas. I think we draw fans from the states around Texas too. We see people from Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arkansas. It's good to draw those fans into the sport. We've seen some tracks go defunct in the past few years, and maybe some of that was because location or over saturation of tracks in one area. We've go to go to the tracks that sell out, and the ones that put people in the seats. Texas has proved it can do that.
"It's tough to argue we shouldn't be at a place that consistently sells out. You can argue that the opposite of that, but when a track is selling out each race, yeah, we need to be there. It's better for the sport and the sponsors. We can't promote our sport, our sponsors if there is nobody there. Texas Speedway, its staff, and the city of Ft. Worth really welcome us. They have built these races as ones that they can not only host, but ones where they can also incorporate events and programs.
"This is a market-driven sport today. We aren't just a Southern sport anymore. We are a national sport. We have to be in the big markets, and I think everyone understands that. If we can go to Texas and put 200,000 fans in one place, that's better for everyone. The sponsors want to be there. They can reach more people. NASCAR wants to be there too. It's the way the sport grows.
"Obviously nobody wants to race on a bad track, and Texas is a great track. It had some growing pains early, but that was handled. Eddie (Gossage) has done a great job with this track. It's very fast and it has become very competitive. A new track takes some time to be competitive. You need the asphalt to wear and the groove to widen. We've seen that at Texas and now it's just like an Atlanta. We can race side-by-side and have good races. Texas is a great place to race.
"We'll got to Texas and put on a good show. It's really not about Texas having a second date right now, but more about the chase for the championship. I think that's where everyone's focus is going to be. I think we're seeing a great battle shape up between Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson. They are the two that are in the driver's seat, but a lot can happen in these final four races. This thing isn't close to being settled.
"This #45 team is looking for a good run. We want to have a good showing and continue to impress some people. I think we've shown some good things the past few weeks. We want to continue that and finish the season strong. We want to prepare ourselves for next season. This #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team is preparing today for 2006."