Bristol II: Dodge special feature - Kyle Petty

Kyle Petty Comes Up with New Wrinkle on Points KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge) NOTE: Everybody is talking about the race for the chase, but no one bothered to ask Kyle Petty what he thought about it all. Consequently, the...

Kyle Petty Comes Up with New Wrinkle on Points

KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge)

NOTE: Everybody is talking about the race for the chase, but no one bothered to ask Kyle Petty what he thought about it all. Consequently, the 44-year-old driver from Randleman, N.C., came up with the following ideas on his motorcycle trip to Bristol.

"I don't care if 10 or 15 cars are in it, but I think they should eliminate one every week and get down to the last three or four and have those guys have a shot for the championship with four or five races left. The last four races of the year should be a short track, a road course, an intermediate and a superspeedway. You make sure that's the way the season ends, so whoever wins the championship in the last four races has to run Talladega, Sonoma or Watkins Glen, Bristol or Richmond and then an intermediate like Atlanta. It's a warped mind thing I came up with. Actually, it's a motorcycle trip. It's riding a motorcycle and not having a snowball's chance of being in the top 10. I'm out of it, so I can make fun of it. It's riding around thinking about good ideas. An idea that superior, you can pick up on the way to Bristol. You can do that in two and a half hours."

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN NASCAR READS THIS AND DECIDES TO DO IT?

"That's fine as long as I get 10 percent off of it. I just want my cut. You think the powers that be ever talk to me? Only when I say something wrong and it gets in the papers (said with laughter), something like this. Then they'll call me. Print it."

WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU CHANGE?

"I don't know. The whole point is to make people watch. Why do they watch Big Brother or Survivor or Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire or Donald Trump and his show. They watch to see who gets eliminated, not who survives. They just want to see who gets eliminated. I can't tell you anything about any of those shows. They're in all the papers all the time. I've never seen Big Brother. I watched the Donald Trump show one time. I've never seen Survivor. I forgot about American Idol. My daughter watched that, so I watched it with her, plus the girl who won was from High Point."

IS IT FAIR FOR BRISTOL TO BE ONE OF THE LAST RACES TO DECIDE THE TOP 10?

"Oh yeah. Why not? Here's the deal. I think everybody loses this. When would you have this race? This race counts the same amount of points whether you run it the first of the year or in the last three. What you're saying is they're so close this race could make a big swing, but if you run good here every time you come here, it's a no-brainer. It's like losing a points battle at the end and say I came up three points short in the last race. It wasn't the last race. It was all year long. You had a lot of opportunities to make it up. If you thought Bristol was going to be a bad place and you stood a chance, then you'd better be kicking butt at Michigan and Richmond and California and everywhere else to give yourself a little cushion. Jimmie Johnson was almost three races up, and now he's in second. He could miss the next three or four races and still be in the top 10, so he doesn't care about Bristol. He's going to be in the top 10. They're all going to even out and he's set, him and Jeff and three or four others. Now you look at Dale Jarrett and those guys, it could be a huge race for those guys. For Ray's two cars, Kasey and Jeremy, they could fall to 14th or 15th. There could be a big swing there, but you can't blame it on Bristol."

DO YOU SEE ANYONE GAINING MOMENTUM AS WE GO ALONG?

"The 20 car is gaining momentum. Even when he doesn't run first or second, he runs fourth or fifth. He's the guy right now that's there. You've got to say the 48 has lost a little momentum. Finishing last three weeks in a row, that tends to stall your momentum a little bit. That's going to be the big kicker. It's not going to be who was strong the first 26 races. It's who's carrying that momentum. It's kind of like baseball and basketball. You can start the season and be 2-20 and end the season and be 20-5 and end up winning the pennant and going to the World Series. From that perspective, Tony is strong and I think Jeff Gordon is strong. The 18 has struggled a little bit under their new structure. They have a good race and then they have an OK race. To be where they're at, seventh, eighth or ninth, you can't afford an OK race. You've got to have good races and great races to maintain when you're seventh, eighth and ninth. It's just like the 9, 19, 42, 6, 88, they can't have good races. They've got to have great races. They've got to put together three great races, and they've got to play every race like it's the last race of a championship. The pressure is on those guys, and it's on the guys that are eighth, ninth and 10th. It's played out like we talked about at the shop. Jeff, Tony, Jimmie, Kenseth, those guys have been in the top five the last four or five years. What made you think they weren't going to be in the top five this year? Guys like myself, who have been 25th-35th or 40th, we're still in the same place. Look in the garage area. We're still parking in the same place. Those guys like Rusty Wallace who finishes eighth one year and 12th the next year or Terry Labonte finished 10th one year and 14th the next year, there's a group in there of about seven or eight cars that the point system affected. That's the heart and soul of the points system. Even when you get down to 10 races to go, I don't see anybody getting in and being the 10th place guy and coming from 10th to win the championship -- not with Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon and those guys who have put together 26 races. What makes you think they're not going to put together 10 more races?"

DO YOU THINK WE HAVE 15 TOP 10 TEAMS?

"Well, the way NASCAR does numbers, you could have 15 top 10 teams. I think you've got 15 teams that deserve a shot at it. I do think the way this year has played out that 15 teams deserve a shot at the championship. The only thing that's kept those guys out of it are DNFs. The guys up front haven't had DNFs, and when they did start having DNFs, like Jimmie Johnson, they were so far ahead it didn't make any difference. When you're struggling to catch up and have a DNF it hurts. You could look at it this year and say 15 teams deserve a shot at the championship. We may get down to say next year only eight teams deserve a shot at it."

DO YOU SEE ANYONE GETTING WITHIN 400 POINTS OF THE LEADER AND NOT BEING IN THE TOP 10 IN THE NEXT THREE RACES?

"The back guys haven't closed up. The front guys have fallen. When Jimmie Johnson was 300 points ahead, that eliminated that 400-point number. Now that he's back flush, that 400 number comes back into play or closer to it. If you take the 8, 48, 20 and 24 and all of a sudden they fall out early in the next two races, that 400 number might come into play. The back guys are not going to catch up. The front guys have to falter to make the 400 number come into play."

DO YOU SEE THE BRISTOL RACE BEING ANY WILDER BECAUSE OF THE POINTS?

"No, not really. Surprisingly, this is not a place where you can make a lot happen. You can be 20th and beat and bang your way to 15th, but you ain't going to beat and bang your way to first. You can be 15th and beat and bang your way to eighth or ninth, but that's as far as you're going to go. You can also beat and bang your way to 15th and tear yourself up. Do you take 18th or do you try for 15th? I'm going to take 18th and go to the house and try to make it up next week. There's going to be a lot of conservative racing here. I don't think it's going to be as wild as you think. You've just got to be careful. This place, all you're going to do is get in line and run for awhile. It's kinda like when you're running down the interstate. You're running 70 and the guy in front of you is running 60. He's blocking you and finally he pulls over. You get off the interstate and pull up to the stoplight and look into the mirror and there he is right behind you. What did you gain? You didn't gain anything. You're at the stoplight at exactly the same time. At this place, even if you pick up two or three positions, you look in the mirror the guy is still right there with you. You didn't gain anything. You didn't go anywhere. Until it gets down to the end of the race, when you lap people you've got to be really careful unless your car is just phenomenal like Kurt Busch's has been up here before where you can pass on the inside and outside. If you're a little bit off you've got to be careful."

DO YOU STILL GET PUMPED UP FOR BRISTOL AT NIGHT?

"Yeah, everybody does. This is the only race I'm going to bet you if you took a survey of the drivers, this is the only race that if a driver falls out he won't go home. He'll just go up on the top of the truck and watch the race. He enjoys watching the race as much as being in it because this is a good place to watch. Take me to California. Yeah, I enjoy being in the race but I ain't going to stick around and watch it. Last week at Michigan, I ain't going to hang around and watch the race at Michigan. I'd probably stick around and watch at Daytona. Teams used to fall out here and would go sit up on the grass bank and watch the race. With about 15 or 20 laps to go, they'd get in the van and leave to beat the traffic."

-dodge motorsports-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Kyle Petty , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson