Atlanta II: Kyle Petty preview

'After Tornado, Atlanta is Ready' This weekend, Kyle Petty and the ...

'After Tornado, Atlanta is Ready'

This weekend, Kyle Petty and the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team head to the 1.54-mile Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway for this weekend's Bass Pro Shops 500. Petty will be making his 50th start at Atlanta. He has been racing at the track since 1979.

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 Atlanta:

"Atlanta has always been about change. I've been going there for a long, long time, and it seems like something is always different every time we get there. The track has been paved, repaved, reconfigured and more. There have been a lot of changes done to Atlanta to make it better. They have overcome the destruction from the tornadoes a few weeks ago, and it's better than ever.

"This is a really competitive sport. We have to make sure we have the best technology and the latest and greatest parts and pieces to complete. The same is true for tracks and their facilities. They have to be kept up to date and stand the test of time. That's what makes a place like Atlanta standout. Ed Clark (track president) has done a phenomenal job of always keeping Atlanta a premier track on the circuit. He and his staff have never settled or stopped. They never said, 'Well this is good enough,' and just stopped improving. They have always done something to make the track and the entire facility a first-class place for competitors and fans.

"You do all this work and all this preparation to give great value to the fans, and then a tornado blows through your track and really tears it up. That's a huge setback. That's where Ed, and everyone involved with the speedway, even the fans, stepped up and helped rebuild the facility for this weekends' race. They didn't let something bad that happened slow them down. They worked even harder to get back on track and get ready for this weekend. That really shows the character of the people who work at the speedway.

"We all saw the pictures of the destruction. It wasn't just a tree down here and maybe a chair tossed in the infield. This was some pretty big damage. We tested at the track last week and it's pretty amazing to see all the repairs that were made in that short amount of time. The facility needed a lot of work. They did an awesome job of getting things ready for this weekend's race.

"If you didn't know that a tornado had passed through just weeks ago, I'm not sure you could tell. That's a great compliment for Atlanta. There were a lot of people who worked long hours to get ready for this weekend's race. There was a lot of damage, but the track is ready to go. We had no problems while we tested and I don't believe there will be any problems this weekend. Atlanta is ready for this weekend's race.

"The NASCAR community is such a wonderful community. I've seen it first hand with all the support we get for the Victory Junction Gang Camp. All the donations and volunteers, it really makes you feel good to be a part of something so special. I think Atlanta is experiencing that right now too. They have now seen first hand how great NASCAR, its supporters and the fans really are. They were there when they needed help. It's a testament to how strong and tightly knit this sport really is.

"The track will be ready and we'll be ready. We tested and the Cheerios team tested here as well. We know a little bit about what the track will be like. Hopefully the conditions will be the same this weekend. I know the fans will have a great place to watch the race. This Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team wants to give them something to cheer for on Sunday."

-petty racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kyle Petty