Kyle Petty, Richard Petty quotes from Lowe's Motor Speedway. KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Sprint Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Petty and his father, Richard, discuss the new book, The Petty Family Album, and the progress of Petty Enterprises. "It's still...
Kyle Petty, Richard Petty quotes from Lowe's Motor Speedway.
KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Sprint Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Petty and his father, Richard, discuss the new book, The Petty Family Album, and the progress of Petty Enterprises.
"It's still hard sometimes (to get back in race car after son Adam's death). I think it was harder last year. I've said this before. It's harder than I thought it was, and I think I let all these guys down last year. I probably wasn't there mentally 100 percent of the time. There were weeks I was and weeks I wasn't. I think that's the big issue right now. You're trying to get back to that stage where you'll be there 100 percent. I feel like I am now, but I might look back next year and say I wasn't there, either. I think it's easier the further away from it you get to notice things like that.
"There's always a time during every day where things don't line up. It's just not right, and you can't put your finger on it. You don't know why, but I think all parents or anybody who experiences a loss like that.... We're not the only people who have lost a son or daughter or loved one. I think everybody deals with their losses differently. You have to work through it and go on. You can't just sit at home and not do anything. That's not the way you want to live, and that's not the way your loved ones would want you to live. I think for us, it's just been our faith in God and a lot of prayer and continuing to move on.
"I think our results (on race track) are a multitude of things. I think when we went to the Dodge program, that was big for us to reorganize. I think a lot of the changes we made last year, we were going to have to make no matter where we were at, but they weren't instant payoffs and we knew that. I think this year, some of the stuff we did last year is beginning to pay off and hopefully some of the stuff we're doing right now will pay off next year. Not everything you do in motorsports, just as in life, has instant reward and instant gratification. Sometimes you have to wait for it. It's like being a farmer. You have to plant the seed and wait for the seed to grow. We planted a lot of stuff last year, and we're beginning to reap some of the benefits. There's still a long way to go.
"We like to consider ourselves the New York Yankees of motorsports. We've bee to the top. You had Babe Ruth driving for you one time. You were at the top of the heap and all of a sudden you've fallen on hard times. It's the same game. Same baseball, same bat, same diamond. These are the same race tracks he raced on. We just got away from what we needed to be, but we didn't do it in one year. We didn't fall in one year and you don't build back in one year. I think that's the big deal. First you had to realize how far behind you were. I think it took a lot of things that have happened to us over the last two or three years to realize how far we had fallen. I think we lived in our own little world for awhile and didn't know we had fallen that far. Once you realize that, you've got to stop and regroup. When you say it's slow. It's really not slow. I think the slow part was us realizing how far behind we were. I think the turnaround part will come. It's going to take four or five years. It's not instant. You look at it and say four or five years is slow, five years out of 50 or 60 years is not a long period of time. That's how long we've been doing this and we'll continue.
"When we first started to talk about it (book), I wasn't interested in it. I wasn't interested in opening those boxes of pictures and going back through stuff and revisiting it on a daily basis, or weekly basis or monthly basis. I think Patti had a vision of what it could do and I think she had a vision of what it could do for the camp and that was the main thing. You give in and say 'it's not about us.' It's about doing something that we can use as a healing process for us personally and emotionally and at the same time, it's going to benefit the camp. That's where the money for this thing goes. It goes straight into the camp. That's good for us. The camp is about Adam.
"People call you by your first name. They think they know you when you're out eating dinner because you've been in their living room so many times. You're in there every Sunday. With everything that goes on now, you're in some of their houses more than their kin. They do think they know you. I'm not going to say this is something we're giving to the fans. It's not about that. It's about us going through a healing process and figuring out where we were with everything going on and at the same time being able to do something else for something we wanted to do and that's the camp, so we're being a little selfish.
"We ran pretty good last week in both races. We were probably had a good top 10 or 15 car and that's where we need to be. We continue to gain a little momentum, and we've got to keep that going.
"I've never built a team that I didn't drive for. When I went to drive for Felix, basically we built a team over there and I was part of that building experience. Even when I went to drive for the Wood Brothers, they were an established team running a limited schedule but they had never run all the races so we had to build a team that could run the full season. Then I started my own deal in '97 and you go back to Petty Enterprises and have to rebuild. It seems like every time I made a move I was trying to build something back, but this is a lot more personal because you're building something that has been to the top and you're trying to rebuild something back. When I do retire, at least I've got a job at this place if I can keep it up and running.
"I think that's just a bonus. Us running on the race track right now, is just a bonus to some of the other stuff we're doing. Our goal is to build Petty Enterprises back to a winning organization where we can win races on a regular basis. Where we can run consistent and win championships. At the same time, I think we're very blessed when there's so many of you guys (press) around that are interested in the sport and we can use this platform to do things we want to do on a personal level and help other people. I think it goes back to our charity ride to the charity stuff that Dale Jarrett does that Kenny
Schrader does, that all these drivers do. It's not that we're going to save the world or got anything important to say or do. We can make some people's lives a little brighter, and this gives us a platform to do it.
"It always feels good to pass somebody and not get passed. I've passed some cars this year. I haven't passed all of 'em, but I've passed a few cars this year. It always feels better to do that, but at the same time, it feels good for me and it did last year when the 43 and 44 ran good. We need all of our teams to run good, not just the 45. Our philosophy when you walk around Petty Enterprises, we're one team we just happen to run three cars. That's truly the way we look at it. We look at ourselves as one team, and right now, part of our teams is running good and part of our teams is OK and part of our teams is struggling a little bit. We've got to get everybody on the run good side of the column.
"It's frustrating because I really put a lot of faith that those guys (43 team) were our best team last year. I really put a lot of faith and confidence that they were going to come out of the box and be really strong this year. They've had things happen to them that's not their fault. They've stumbled, and it's not been their fault all the time. There have been times when it might have been their fault. There have been times when it's been all of our fault and there are times when it's been my fault. It's frustrating for him (John Andretti), but it's frustrating for us because the 43 is our marquee team. That's who we are. We can stand here and talk 44 and 45 until the cows come home, but when people think Petty Enterprises, they think the 43.
"We've got to make that team perform. We've got to step up the performance, and we've got to continue to make changes. We've got to figure out what we can do to make it better.
"I would be proud of my father if he ran a dairy farm or grocery store. It wouldn't make any difference. I'm proud to be Richard Petty's son and I would be no matter what he did. It just so happens we drive race cars and we're in the public eye, but that doesn't make me any more proud to be a Petty.
"We knew we were behind before Robin (Pemberton) came over and we knew we were behind before the Dodge stuff. I think a lot of it was whenever we shut down everything from the Pontiac stuff and started looking, that's when we really got a good look. It's easier to take inventory when you stop and start all over."
RICHARD PETTY (Team Owner Petty Enterprises Dodge Intrepid R/Ts)
"It's the history of the Petty Family in racing. It took them a pretty good while to put it together, but proceeds go to the Victory Junction Camp. This is something good for the family. We get to look at all the photos and stuff. To put it together and be able to show it and also make some money for the camp is really what it's all about. They're still blowing up land and moving trees and stuff like that (at Victory Junction Camp site).
They're coming along pretty good. Like everything else, we need more money. We've got enough to keep going, and it's working out real good right now. We get letters every day from fan clubs of different drivers. They send in money. Anything helps. They can just send it to Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, N.C., and we'll appreciate anything they can do for us. Buying the book will help, too. They printed 45,000 and that will bring in money for the camp, too.
"The (45) car is running a little better and that should make things work good and it should make the book a little more popular. Kyle is probably more on his program than he has been the last two or three years. He's a lot freer. He's really loosened up since the beginning of this year. No matter how smart people are, they can only do so much. It was asking his body and his mind to do two or three jobs. Now, he's still doing a couple of jobs but he's got more time for the racing side of it. He's got the ability. Now he's going back where he needs to be. He's having fun and really enjoying it now.
"I don't see why they can't win this year. They're moving up. If you watch all the races, from time to time, we're getting winners that couldn't win last week. They won this week, and they might not win next week, but they had a really good day. Nobody is constant with it. Nobody is running in the first three or four week in and week out. That just gives us more incentive. We know we've got a chance to do it, too.
"We had some big meetings the past week on that (43 car). What's happened? We've got the same people and the same deal. We're having bad luck, but a lot of it we're causing ourselves because we're putting ourselves in that position on the race track. By not running a little bit better, getting away from some of those situations we shouldn't be in."