KYLE PETTY FEATURE Goody's Body Pain 500 Advance Martinsville Speedway April 16, 1999 Note: A strange season got stranger for Hot Wheels Pontiac driver Kyle Petty during a test at Talladega Superspeedway Wednesday. Petty's throttle stuck while...
KYLE PETTY FEATURE Goody's Body Pain 500 Advance Martinsville Speedway April 16, 1999
Note: A strange season got stranger for Hot Wheels Pontiac driver Kyle Petty during a test at Talladega Superspeedway Wednesday. Petty's throttle stuck while he went down pit road and he slammed into a flagpole in the infield, totaling his Pontiac Grand Prix. Petty is coming off an eighth-place run in last week's Food City 500 at Bristol. He's got two top-10 finishes this season, but has failed to qualify for two events. Petty talks about the Talladega occurrence and Sunday's upcoming race.
KYLE PETTY (No. 44 Hot Wheels Pontiac Grand Prix): "I was down at Talladega testing and everything was humming along pretty good. I was coming in th pits, coming in after a run. It was mid-afternoon. As you round the corner there where the gas pumps are, I was coasting along, and you can see it on the computer, it was turning about 1800 RPM, and I dropped it in first gear and just barely touched the accelerator and the thing hung wide open. It turned 6800 according to the computer. When it did that it just spun sideways and I was on the brakes trying to slow it down and hit the kill switch at the same time, but by then I was past the gas pumps, through the chain link fence and I hit my first pole of the year. That was it. I ran through the chain link fence and over a couple of azaleas, and I think a couple of dandelions gave their lives. It was just a freak deal. I've never had anything happen like that, never. I hit the curb and the concrete around the flag pole and the thing jumped up in the air about two or three feet and nailed the flagpole. The flagpole got hung up underneath the car and that's what wedged the thing. That's what finally stopped me. It was the same Grand Prix we ran seventh with at Daytona. We'll still run it at Talladega. It needed a new front snout, and really, everything forward from the front firewall, it needed. I just got out and laughed. There isn't anything else you can do. In hindsight, I was thankful. If it had been during practice, I would have (hit) some people. You know how those people like to stand around at those gates. There's no way they could have gotten out of the way. It would have just plowed over people. If it had happened about 15 feet sooner, I'd have run straight through the gas pumps and we would have had a major fire. When you look at it like that, it could have been a whole lot worse."
TALLADEGA HAS A LOT OF SUPERSTITIONS SURROUNDING IT AND THAT'S WHERE YOU BROKE YOUR LEG IN A CRASH. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT RACING THERE NEXT WEEK?
"That's probably one of the weirdest things (this week's crash) that has ever happened to me with a race car. I'm not superstitious. When you've seen it all, there's no reason to be superstitious, man. You get past the superstition stage. When I broke my leg down there, Ernie (Irvan) and somebody got together and there was a big wreck. I was up next to the outside wall and there was smoke everywhere. The car was up beside the wall and then all of a sudden it came off the wall and they were wrecking behind us. I think Chad Little hit me. I'm not sure. But there was nothing he could do. He didn't have anyplace to go and it just popped my leg. I don't worry about going to Talladega. I've already got mine over with this year (freak occurrence). We were having a really good test. We were running really good. We'll be OK when we go back.
It's one of those freak deals that messes up the car and causes a lot of work for the guys at the shop, but it doesn't set us back any."
WHAT ARE YOUR OPINIONS ON THE NEW PIT SETUP HERE?
"I don't know. They're not going to wreck any more cars than they usually wreck here just because of the wall location. Pit road is really going to hurt you here. The pit road is going to kill you, period on a green flag stop. Look at the race track. It's a half-mile track. We can get around here in 20 seconds. It takes you 44 seconds to go down pit road at 35 mph now. That's two laps you've got already on pit road during a green flag pit stop. I never liked the pit road when they changed it at Wilkesboro. I felt like it didn't equalize anything. It just made poor qualifying that much worse, because you ended up having a longer pit road instead of having two short pit roads. I'd rather be pitting on the backstretch just because you've got two shorter pit roads, no matter how much it kills you for the race win, it still makes you competitive. You can still run competitive sometimes (while pitting on the backstretch). Pit road is narrow. If there is a tire out in the middle of pit road and you come around, it could be bad. But we're sitting here talking about hypotheticals. You can't really say anything until you win a race."