Martinsville II: Kyle Petty preview

Kyle Petty - 50th Start At Famed Short Track This weekend, Kyle Petty and the ...

Kyle Petty - 50th Start At Famed Short Track

This weekend, Kyle Petty and the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team head to the .526-mile Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for Sunday's Subway 500. The paperclip-shaped oval is the smallest track on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit and one of only two short tracks in the Chase for the Nextel Cup. Petty will be making his 50th career start at the famed speedway this weekend.

Petty, 45, will be making his 745th 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 Martinsville:

"If someone didn't tell me, no, I couldn't say how many times I've been to Martinsville. I guess 50 races sounds like a lot for one track - maybe it is, but when you've been around forever, everything just becomes routine. My family has been coming to Martinsville for years and years. My father and grandfather have been racing here ever since I can remember. It's like Charlotte, Darlington, or Atlanta, after growing in the sport some of these places become like your second home.

"Martinsville has always been special because it is just up the road from our shop. I think we've always looked at Martinsville a little differently because of that. We know that we've got a lot of Petty Enterprises fans here in this area, and we just have a lot of friends up here too. My father has had a ton of success there, winning races and always running well. I think it makes going to Martinsville that much more special to us. The track has a lot of history and Petty Enterprises has been fortunate enough to be a big part of that.

"Running well and having good finishes there is important for us. The last win for the Cheerios team was there. Jeff (Green) had a good race there last year. I've had some good runs there too. Martinsville has always been good to us, and we have always enjoyed going there. You always look forward getting back to the tracks that you have run well at in the past.

"I like Martinsville, but it's still a really challenging track and race. The first 49 races there were pretty demanding, so I'm figuring nothing is going to change for the 50th. It's just the way Martinsville has always been. It's a small track, and short track racing is pretty demanding with 42 other cars out there with you. There is a lot of beating and banging and a lot of times some tempers too. It's always an adventure when we race at Martinsville.

"It's not a short track like Bristol where we have all that banking to help you get through the turns. Martinsville is really flat and you really wear on your brakes. Later in the race, especially if you have abused the brakes all day, it can get pretty wild in the turns. Guys are sliding into each other, bumping into each other, and whatever else they can do to get through those turns. It's a lot about track position at the end of the race. You really need to be up front because you don't want to be stuck in the back with a ton of guys battling for position.

"You have to take care of your car. I was told that the first race I entered here, and I'm sure someone will remind me of that again Sunday morning before the race. The brakes, the fenders, the tires, it seems just about every lap they are getting abused -- either by you or by someone else. You just can't go out there and try to win the race in the first 200 laps. You have to be patient and be around at the end. You can cash in your chips then, but you have to make sure you still have something left to cash in.

"There are a lot of things that have been around for a while. Martinsville is one of those places. We race there because we always have. That's why I'm racing this weekend. It's the next race that we're going to try and win at. Anytime you win it's special, but a win at Martinsville, on a 50th start, yeah, that is a cool way to win a race. Hopefully we'll keep everything together on this Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge and have a chance on Sunday."

-petty racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kyle Petty