Homestead: Kyle Petty preview

'Plans Set for 2006, Not Forgetting About Homestead' This weekend, Kyle Petty and the ...

'Plans Set for 2006, Not Forgetting About Homestead'

This weekend, Kyle Petty and the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team head to the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway for Sunday's season-ending Homestead-Miami 400. Petty will be driving a #45 Checkers University of Florida Dodge this weekend. Petty and the team will be paying special attention to the #10 Checkers Florida St. University Chevrolet driven by Scott Riggs. The duo are supporting the in-state college football rivalry and giving fans a chance to gear up for the game to be played next weekend.

Petty, 45, will be making his 749th 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 Homestead:

"There are a lot of good things happening right now at Petty Enterprises. I think bringing in Robbie (Loomis) and then having Bobby (Labonte) join our organization before the season ends really gives us a huge boost as we get ready for next season. We're pretty excited about that and what it means for next year. First, however, we've got to concentrate on Homestead. That's where our focus is right now. We've done a lot the past few months in getting ready for next year, but we haven't forgotten about this race.

"This race is pretty special to us. I'll be driving the University of Florida Dodge and Scott (Riggs) will be driving a Florida St. University car. I think we all know how big that game is on the football field, and I think it's pretty cool for us to bring that excitement to the race track. It's something different, and if we beat Riggs in the race we'll get some extra money for the camp. We'll have a lot of bragging rights too. It's a pretty cool deal.

"I think we have seen a lot of different promotions throughout the years, but this one is pretty different. This one really makes on-track performance count. It's actually one driver vs. another. We've got the chase going on, but this race is in Florida, and really, a ton of people all across the country love watching this football game. I'm sure there are going to be a lot of fans cheering for this University of Florida car, but I'm sure there will be others cheering for the Florida St. car too. We're going to do our best to make sure that there are a lot of happy Gator fans at the end of the day on Sunday.

"Our immediate goal is getting a good finish at Homestead, and then we'll fully concentrate on getting ready for Daytona. Hey, there isn't anything like an off-season in this sport. There are just weekends when we just aren't racing. That doesn't mean we aren't working. We are always working, testing, preparing for the next race. Our next race will be the Daytona 500. We just have some extra time to prepare for that race.

"We're in a good position to have Robbie (Loomis) and Bobby (Labonte) in place right now. That's one less thing, and it's a big thing, off our plate. I think having a guy like Robbie and a driver like Bobby come in now they can help us prepare. They know what it's like to win races and championships. We've done that in the past, and now we have the people in place to get us back to where we were. We're really ahead of what we might have been if we didn't have these guys in place.

"Daytona may seem like a long time from now, but we just don't stop. We have to start building cars, testing cars, going to the wind tunnel, and that's all going on right now. We just don't stop because we ran the final race of this year. We have to keep working to make sure we're ready for next season. We are just in a good place right now with Robbie and Bobby in the Cheerios Dodge.

"We're looking ahead, but keeping our focus at the same time. I'm looking forward to Homestead and feeling good about what lays ahead. We're excited, but we know there is work to do. Our first job is having a good run this weekend. We want to bring this University of Florida Dodge home with a strong finish. On the track, that will make for a positive ending of 2005 to a lot of good things happening at Petty Enterprises for 2006 and beyond."


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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kyle Petty , Scott Riggs