Dodge This - Kyle Petty interview

Dodge This Teleconference Tuesday, July 1, 2003 Kyle Petty KYLE PETTY -- Driver, No. 43 Georgia Pacific/Brawny Dodge Intrepid ON THE KYLE PETTY CHARITY RIDE ACROSS THE COUNTRY "I don't think we had envisioned it to be anything like it has ...

Dodge This Teleconference
Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Kyle Petty

KYLE PETTY -- Driver, No. 43 Georgia Pacific/Brawny Dodge Intrepid

ON THE KYLE PETTY CHARITY RIDE ACROSS THE COUNTRY "I don't think we had envisioned it to be anything like it has grown to be. It was really amazing this year when we sat down at the beginning of the year when we started talking about the ride and how much money it had generated and how much publicity it had generated. That first year, there were about 25-30 of us that really wanted to do this and a lot of people said that on our only off week there is no way we would want to ride motorcycles across the country. We said we would do a bike-a-thon to raise money for charity. It kind of evolved from that. That first year we raised $35,000. We gave $5,000 checks to seven different charities. The following years it got bigger and bigger. To date, we have given a little over three million dollars to charities. This year was huge with Dodge being a corporate sponsor. The corporate sponsor stuff is what has grown the most. We had a lot more corporate involvement this year. The amount of people this year, more than any other year, that come out and stand on the side of the highway and overpasses and wave was just phenomenal. This year it started in New Mexico. Before, it never started until we got to Alabama."

ON WHY SHANE HMIEL WAS CHOSEN TO DRIVE THE PEPSI 400 "For two reasons really, and I think one is the obvious reason. He is a young guy. We were put in a position, to some degree of our own making, that we ended up with a car without a driver. Christian had other committed deals where he could not drive the No. 43 Dodge. So all of a sudden, the No. 43 car did not have a driver. Instantly, we said we had four or five races to fill the car. So we said, 'Let's put someone young in the car and lets try some stuff.' We were very fortunate and very blessed to be able to call Shane and George diBidart. Because Shane, and I want to be clear here, has a Busch deal with George diBidart and is on loan to us for one race. George is still trying to sell that sponsorship program for Shane and for that Busch program. George is trying to move forward with that and I don't want this to hinder George's ability to take Shane and do something with Shane somewhere else either. Also, the connection with the Hmiel family goes back a long way with us. When we saw an opportunity to do something with the No. 43 car Shane was the guy who popped up for us, not only for his talent and his ability, but he holds a little different place in our family than some of the other drivers. We are probably going to put other drivers in for one of these races. We would like to have the opportunity to put a different guy in some of the other races we are going to run, but Shane was the first one that came to mind."

ON THE SUCCESS OF D.E.I. IN RESTRICTOR PLATE RACES "I don't think they are outresourcing people on this one. I think they have the potential to outresource some people in some ways, but I think there is potential for other teams to outresource them in a lot of ways too. I think these guys work really hard to come up with a combination of engine life, car body, and obviously they have great drivers. You can't take anything away from Michael, Dale Jr., or Jeff. You can't take anything away from them in any way shape or form. I think the biggest thing is they have a really good combination of different things at this time."

ON REASONS FOR HIS POPULARITY "If this is a popularity question, I think I am popular because I'm like an old dog - I've just been here a long time. I grew up in a sport where my grandfather was a part of the sport, my father was a part of the sport, Adam came along and was a part of the sport, and you cant pick up on NASCAR racing without seeing the name Petty in some way, shape or form. From my perspective, I have seen a lot of great drivers come through the sport and do a lot of stuff. I have always been one of those guys who is not really anyone's favorite, but everybody doesn't hate me either. So I am probably everyone's second or third favorite. That's okay with me because it allows me to use this sport for some of the charity stuff that I want to do and love to do."

ON SEEING THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL "We have not had a great year by any stretch of the imagination. This is a performance business. We have to perform. We laid out a long-term plan. I am not going to tell you that we aren't a little behind schedule on our long-term plan, but in the total scheme of laying out a five-year plan we are halfway into the plan and a little bit behind where we need to be. But what we are doing at the shop and some of the stuff we are doing there is exactly where we need to be. It isn't transferring to the racetrack, so we need to work really hard at that. That is why we made the change with the No. 43 Dodge. That really caught me off guard that it was such a big deal to everyone that we made a change with the 43 car. We have been talking about performance and how we need to perform so the change should have caught nobody off guard. I think overall, we are hitting our marks and doing what we need to do off the racetrack. On the racetrack we are struggling a little bit. We got caught with our pants down at the beginning of the year for various reasons. We will evaluate as we go through the second half of the year to figure out where we need to be the first part of next year."

ON THE TYPE OF DRIVER NEEDED FOR THE No. 43 DODGE "The type of driver we need right now is the type that can be consistent. That car has had no consistency for three years. Right now, you have to crawl before you can walk, and you have to walk before you can run. Right now we thought we were in the walking stage but I guess we are back to the crawling stage. We have to have consistent drivers. We are not going to be able to go get a Jimmy Johnson, a Ryan Newman, or a driver like that who can move you from one place to another place. We have to get a driver who can be really consistent and then we can move forward from there."

ON STEPPING OUT OF THE No. 45 DODGE "I see the whole picture from inside the car. I think that is a misnomer that I hear everybody talk about all the time. It's funny for me to hear everybody talk about it. Petty Enterprises has always been owner/drivers. Lee Petty, Richard Petty and now Kyle Petty. That is the way it has always been. Yes the sport has changed and it is more intense and involved than it ever was but to make the big decisions, it is easier for me to be a coach and a leader out on the racetrack than to just be standing on the sideline pointing fingers at everybody. It is a lot easier for me at this point in time to keep the ball moving from inside the car. Will there come a time that I need to be outside the car? Yes there will. That time will come, but it will not be this year or next year."

-dodge motorsports-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kyle Petty , Ryan Newman , Richard Petty , Lee Petty