Watkins Glen: Kyle Petty preview

'Changes to The Glen Don't Impact Drivers' This weekend, Kyle Petty and the ...

'Changes to The Glen Don't Impact Drivers'

This weekend, Kyle Petty and the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team head to the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen (N.Y.) road course for Sunday's SIRIUS Satellite Radio at The Glen. Petty has been racing at Watkins Glen since 1986 and was a winner in 1992.

Petty, 45, will be making his 731st 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 Watkins Glen:

"They have made a lot of changes to Watkins Glen over the years, and I guess they'll end up making a few more. Watkins Glen is going to be a little bit different again this year. They have made some changes in Turn One. They have added pavement in the run-off area and have taken away the sand trap. We'll see how that plays out. The track, throughout all its years, has really done a good job of making it a competitive and safe road course. They added the chicane, they added some sand traps, and some other things. We'll just have to wait and see how some of these new changes play out.

"As a competitor it's still a great track to race. The drivers are only really concerned about the racing surface itself. We don't pay attention to much of the other things because we're concentrating so much on the track. That's just the way it is for a driver. We are in our own little world out there. Sand traps and gravel traps are meaningless -- until you are sliding through one. Chicanes are just part of the race track.

"The racing at Watkins Glen has always been good. It's really a premier road course. If you were to talk to some of the road course guys that race here, and who race other road courses across the country, I think they will say that Watkins Glen is a great track. It's a very competitive course, and I think we put on good races there.

"Going to Watkins Glen was a big deal from the very beginning. It finally got us solidly into the state of New York. We weren't there before. NASCAR is really trying to get into New York City, but for right now Watkins Glen brings us to New York. It gives us that little piece of the puzzle. It helps us bring in some Canadian fans too. We're not too far from Ontario and I think we draw some people from there. Watkins Glen, for everything it is, really is pretty important to have on the schedule.

"It's good to have another road course too. I've always enjoyed the road courses, and I've always enjoyed Watkins Glen. I think it's a great track, and it's pretty challenging. It's a fast road course, and that's what probably makes it the most challenging. Stock car drivers aren't used to racing fast and then turning right. That's a little foreign to us. Watkins Glen just gives us a little more practice.

"You might say it's a shame that we don't have more than only two road courses on the schedule. I think so, but I love them. I think they are fun, but I'm in the minority when it comes to that. Guys like Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Robby Gordon, they like road racing too, but the list probably isn't too long for guys that want to sign up and race a Cup car on a road course. I think it really shows off our talents and what we can do behind the wheel. It's really more about the driver. If you like road courses, yeah, you're probably going to do a lot better. It's more mental than anything.

"If I'm in the minority of being excited to get to Watkins Glen this weekend, I'm fine with that. Hopefully it will give this Georgia-Pacific/Brawny team more of an advantage. We'll see how things play out this weekend. It's an important race for the guys going for the championship, and guys trying to make the 'chase.' It's a big weekend for us as we try to move up in the standings this second half of the season. I'm ready for this weekend.

-www.pettyracing.com

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Kyle Petty , Robby Gordon