Petty aims to get Andretti a win at Daytona By Shawn A. Akers DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 14, 1998) Richard Petty knows a little something about making history at Daytona International Speedway. As a driver, Petty owned the 2.5-mile ...
Petty aims to get Andretti a win at Daytona By Shawn A. Akers
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 14, 1998) Richard Petty knows a little something about making history at Daytona International Speedway.
As a driver, Petty owned the 2.5-mile superspeedway, winning an incredible 10 NASCAR Grand National and then Winston Cup races there, including a record seven Daytona 500s -- a mark that may never be equaled.
Only Cale Yarborough, who won eight races at Daytona, including four Daytona 500s, has even come close.
Now, what "The King" would like more than anything, would be to see his protege', John Andretti, make history as the first driver ever to make it to Victory Lane in a NASCAR Winston Cup Series night race at Daytona. This Saturday's Pepsi 400, postponed from July 4 due to the wildfires in Florida, will mark the first time the series has ever run under the lights Daytona.
It's an event the entire racing world has been looking forward to, including Petty, whose final and 200th career win came at Daytona in the then Firecracker 400 on July 4, 1984.
"I think it's going to be a pretty neat deal for everybody, especially the fans," said Petty, owner of the No. 43 STP Pontiac. "Everybody's been pointing to this race for a long time, and it should be a very exciting event. There's certainly been a lot of hoopla surrounding it.
"Daytona was certainly a magical place for me and I've got a lot of great memories of winning races there, and, even not winning races there. John (Andretti) has won there, so he knows what it takes to get the job done. Hopefully this STP team can work together and get him to Victory Lane again."
While Yarborough and Petty were rivals on the race track, it was Yarborough who got his first-ever victory as an owner in last year's Pepsi 400, with, ironically, Andretti as the driver of his No. 98 RCA Ford. It was also Andretti's first career series win.
Since Petty climbed out of the No. 43 STP Pontiac for the last time in 1992, none of his drivers have finished in the top-10 at Daytona. Bobby Hamilton finished 15th in last year's Daytona 500 and then 20th in the 1997 Pepsi 400. Andretti finished 18th in the season-opening Daytona 500 this season.
At that time, however, Andretti was just becoming reacquainted with the STP Pontiac team. With almost a full season together with the team under his belt, Andretti has climbed his way into the top-10 in the point standings.
"Things have really started to come together for this team the second half of the season," Petty said. "John has just been a great fit for this team, and pretty soon I think he'll start winning some races, maybe before the year is up. We're coming up on some tracks that we've been really good at in the past."
Hamilton took the No. 43 STP Pontiac to Victory Lane at Rockingham late last season, and was also victorious at Phoenix in the latter part of 1996.
Source: NASCAR Online