Indianapolis: Kyle Petty preview

'Big Race, Bigger Event' This weekend Kyle Petty and the ...

'Big Race, Bigger Event'

This weekend Kyle Petty and the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team head to the two-mile Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway for Sunday's Brickyard 400. The second richest race of the season, Petty and the team prepared by testing two days at the speedway prior to this weekend's event. Petty's highest finish in the Brickyard 400 is a 13th-place finish in 1997.

Petty, 45, will be making his 734th 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 Indianapolis:

"Indy is big because it pays a lot of money, and that's why it's big. It's not the Daytona 500 and it's never going to replace the Daytona 500. Daytona will always and forever be our biggest race of the season. I think Indy's more important to a few other drivers, but all-in-all, if you had your choice and could only win one, a stock car driver is going to want to win the Daytona over any other race..

"That's probably the way it should be too. Daytona is where we started, and as stock car drivers, it's where we have our roots. Open wheel racing in America really developed in Indianapolis and the Indianapolis 500. We just go in and race there once a year. It has become a big deal because the purse is so high and it pays a lot. Indianapolis will always belong to names like Foyt, Mears, Andretti and guy like that. We're not going to come in here and rewrite the history books of the track. We'll just be a little part of it.

"We're just now really starting to develop our history at the track. This is only our 10th or 11th year racing here. That's not very much considering the decades we've raced at Daytona, Darlington, Martinsville and places like that. We still have a long way to go to reach the point. We're just starting to scratch the surface of tradition at Indy.

"Indy, for so long, was just about the Indianapolis 500. That's all Indy was ever about. Today it's a little bit different. We race there, Formula One races there, and there are a couple more races. Still, I think the focus remains the Indianapolis 500. That's why Indy was built. The month of May means the most to this track. NASCAR has come in, but it's the Indy cars that own the place.

"We're still in a good position with this race. The Brickyard 400 probably draws the most attention outside of Daytona. Almost every team goes there to test, it draws an amazing amount of fans and media, and it's watched by millions on NBC. It's huge when you consider that. We've been able to come into Indy, and we have started to develop something special.

"The first Brickyard 400 probably brought more interest to our sport. I think race fans, no matter who you were or what you liked, were interested in seeing stock cars race at Indianapolis. They wanted to see what was going to happen. People had never seen a stock car race at Indy. It was something new. It took us to a wider audience.

"That probably helped grow the sport. Today, with all the attention it gets, the Brickyard 400 has become a key event on the schedule. There are so many things that go around the race itself, that it's actually a two or three day event for the fans. The speedway and the city of Indianapolis have really embraced this weekend. It's good for the fans and sponsors. Georgia-Pacific, Wells Fargo Financial, Coca-Cola, they all bring in fans and customers to this race. It's a big-race atmosphere like you see at Daytona. It's more an event with everything going on, and then, oh yeah, there's a race on Sunday too.

"It's a big race, but a bigger event. That's the Brickyard 400. Guys like Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon, and Casey Mears, they love this race. This is a huge deal to these guys who grew up and started in open wheel racing. Jeff Gordon loves this race too. There are a lot of guys out here that Indianapolis means a ton. This is their chance to win at Indianapolis. But, we are trying to win it too. A win here can carry you the rest of the season. This Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team is ready for the challenge."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Kyle Petty , Robby Gordon , Casey Mears