Daytona II: Kyle Petty preview

'Once Again, Spending The Fourth in Daytona' This weekend, Kyle Petty and the ...

'Once Again, Spending The Fourth in Daytona'

This weekend, Kyle Petty and the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team head to the 2.5-mile Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway for Saturday night's Daytona 400. Petty has been going to Daytona for the Fourth of July race since he was an infant.

Petty, 45, will be making his 730th 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 Daytona:

"I've been going to Daytona as long as I can remember -- actually, longer than I can remember. It really has been that it seems. I first came to the speedway as a baby, and I've been going there ever since. My childhood, my teenage years, and even today have revolved around spending the Fourth of July, or some part of that week, at Daytona. There wasn't any other beach in the world to me when I was growing up. It was always Daytona Beach. We'd go to the beach then we'd go to the track, or we'd go to the track and then to the beach. It was the way we spent and celebrated our Fourth of July.

"It's probably not your typical childhood, but how many kids called their father 'The King' when growing up? Our family just raced, and Daytona is a big part of racing. I don't know where the other kids went, but my sisters and I we just packed up and went to Daytona. We didn't think anything of it. It was habit for us. We got there and we'd play with the Allisons and kids like that. That was what we did, and that's how we celebrated the Fourth.

"Growing up in the sport, and having been around it so much, Daytona almost becomes a little part of you. I have a lot of history there. My family has a lot of history there. My grandfather and my father, and all the success they had there, that makes Daytona special to our family. You really don't ever forget all the memories that we've had at Daytona. Growing up, and watching my father win all these races, I don't think you ever forget the wins at Daytona. They are the ones that are special. I had my first big win there in an ARCA race. That was a pretty big deal. You just don't forget those moments.

"This year will be more of the same. We'll go down to Daytona and try to win again. It's a little different today than what it was back growing up, but winning at Daytona hasn't ever changed. You always want to win at Daytona. Any guy, growing up racing stock cars, wants to win at Daytona. It's like the open wheel guys who want to win at Indianapolis. It's one of the most, if not the most, special tracks to win. Sure, the July race isn't the Daytona 500. It doesn't hold as much prestige, but it's still a huge race. It's the way NASCAR celebrates summer, and they like to celebrate it big at Daytona.

"We kick off the season there and then we meet again at the halfway mark of the year. Daytona becomes our focal point. It's always a big race if it's at Daytona. The July race is exciting. It's a little shorter, it's now run at night, and it's a holiday weekend. It builds a lot of excitement. The Daytona 500 has its own excitement, and it's really a different game. The July race is different. You don't compare the two, and you really can't. You have to approach the races differently. The track is a little different, it's a faster race, and the night time conditions make this race unique to the Daytona 500.

"It's still about winning though. Daytona will always be about winning for me. As a kid, I grew up coming to Daytona, and I was fortunate enough to grow up spending time in its victory lane. Hopefully I'll be doing the same this weekend with this Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kyle Petty