Kansas: Kyle Petty preview

This weekend, Kyle Petty and the ...

This weekend, Kyle Petty and the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team head to the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway, located in Kansas City, for Sunday's Banquet 400. The Kansas Speedway is celebrating its fifth year in existence. The new facility has expanded NASCAR racing into the Midwest portion of the United States. Kansas City, Mo., is also the home of series sponsor Sprint/Nextel.

Petty will be driving a Quilted Northern Ultra bath tissue pink paint scheme this weekend. The scheme is in conjunction with the "Time for Thanks" program that recognizes the critical role that co-survivors play in the in the lives of breast cancer survivors. Survivors and co-survivors will spend a weekend retreat at the Victory Junction Gang Camp in early November.

Petty, 45, will be making his 743rd 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 Kansas:

"Kansas City, just looking at the city itself, we need to be racing there. The amount of companies headquartered there that do business with NASCAR, like Sprint, makes it really important for us to have a strong presence in Kansas City. We've partnered with Sprint in the past, and now the merger of Sprint and Nextel, that has made them a huge player in the sport again. We need to support them in their backyard. That makes this track and this city a critical one as far as the growth of our sport.

"We're doing the same thing in Kansas City that we are in Chicago, and that's just starting to tap into that market. Sprint has been around for a while, but there are other companies in the area that we can still impress to help grow our sport. We're just getting our legs underneath us in that area, and we can run a long way in this market. We've got to continue to make people excited about the race and this new track. We continue to do that, and I think we can make a serious push into making this a great market for us.

"You have to start with having a good package, something entertaining for people to come watch. The Kansas Speedway is a great track. It's new, and it takes a while for a new track to break in, but we're starting to see two and three grooves open up at Kansas. It gets some pretty harsh weather over the winters, but the track surface has been great. It's a fast track, and one that is really turning into a great 'racing' track. We can pass and there are multiple grooves. It's only going to get better, and than we'll see the finishes at Kansas like we do at Atlanta or Charlotte.

"Once we've proven that we've got a great show for everyone we can go to these companies, invite them in, and let them see what we've got. Kansas is a great facility to showcase our sport too. It's new, it's state-of-the-art, and it's a great place to bring people who are new to the sport. The partners that we have now, General Mills, Wells Fargo Financial, Coca-Cola, Dodge, they all have taken advantage of the tremendous amenities the track has to offer. They can bring in guests and show them a first-class track to enjoy a great race. We've done a lot of that in the first five years in Kansas City, but there is still a tremendous amount of room for growth.

"Obviously you can't do any of this without the fans. The Midwest has great NASCAR fans too. They continue to pack this place for these races. They are very passionate about NASCAR, the teams, and the drivers. This track doesn't survive, and we don't race, if it's not for the people in Kansas and the people from all the Midwest that come to the track to support us. I think the first year everyone came because they wanted to see what it was going to be like. Now, the fans are coming because they know this is a great place and they are going to have a good time.

"I've always enjoyed coming to Kansas. It's a great city with a lot of culture. It's great for entertainment and we can really enjoy ourselves. I'm happy that we race here and I hope we continue to race here for a long time. It's a growing market for us, but we're taking advantage of it. We ready to get this Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team out to Kansas. We want to impress a lot of people with a strong run on Sunday."

-pr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kyle Petty