Richmond II: Petty - Dodge Friday interview

KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Marathon Motor Oil Dodge Charger) NOTE: Petty is scheduled to make his 775th career start Saturday night at Richmond. COMMENT ON THE CHASE "It's a 10-race schedule. It's not a 36-race schedule. It's a 10-race schedule. Kasey...

KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Marathon Motor Oil Dodge Charger)

NOTE: Petty is scheduled to make his 775th career start Saturday night at Richmond.

COMMENT ON THE CHASE "It's a 10-race schedule. It's not a 36-race schedule. It's a 10-race schedule. Kasey could win every race of the year and not be in The Chase and not win the championship. What goes on in the first 26 races really doesn't matter. It's a 10-race schedule for the championship. You could have a guy win 10 races and fall out of the next 16 races and still not make The Chase. That's just the way the system is set up."

IF YOU WERE KING OF NASCAR WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO MAKE THE SPORT BETTER? "The last 10 races of the season, the point system has been really good, but I don't like it. We've had exciting Chases two years in a row, but that still doesn't mean, and I'll go back again and use the Busch Series. If you take the first 10 races of the Busch Series, look how far ahead Kevin Harvick was after 10 races. That could happen in the last 10 races of the Cup Series. I'm not a big fan of continuing the same points system in the last 10 races that you had in the first 26 races. I would probably judge those 10 guys off of each other than off the field. The highest finishing guy if you win you get X number of points and the second highest finishing guy gets 9, 8, 7, 6 or whatever it may be and the last guy gets at least 1 point. They race inside the race because that's basically what it is. They race inside our race now. If you're going to have a different race inside the race, why not have a different point system? We build up all this hype and excitement and as soon as we leave New Hampshire one guy is eliminated right off the bat. One guy has such a bad day that he can't recover. It's happened the last two years. If you want 10 guys in The Chase, keep 'em close. That builds excitement. If there's 3 games to go in the season and you're a half game out or a game and a half out, that's excitement. I'm not a Yankees fan or a Boston fan, but when they're a game apart with three games to go, I just want to know what happens. I just don't think there's any excitement there. >From The Chase perspective, I'd look at that.

"I'm going to tell you something. You look at 400 as a good number, but 400 might not be the perfect if they're going to continue their same point system. Let's use Kasey. He's hot and he's 11th. So you're going to knock the hottest driver on the circuit out and a driver with a huge following. We could have got Junior and Jeff in with a little bit of a different system. I'm not saying it's right or wrong. On a personal level, I'm not a big fan of it. Obviously it's working because for two years in a row there has been excitement leading into the last race. There has been some hype. You guys write about it, maybe because you have to write about it. There is some stuff going on. You can't say it's all bad.

"In the last 10 races we run Martinsville. I'd like to see Bristol and Watkins Glen or Sears Point in the last 10 races. I'd like to see the last 10 races be a miniature season. From a percentage standpoint, the same number of short track percentages, middle track percentages, big tracks, road courses. You've got to score points on every type of track we race on. I'd like to see the schedule tweaked and it becomes a miniature season. You want to reward somebody who can drive on every type of racetrack."

IS THERE A CLEAR CUT FAVORITE TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I think this is the first season since The Chase that nobody has had a streak of hotness. You look at Kasey and he's won five races but he's won them at different times. He didn't do like Biffle and get hot the first 10 or like Jimmie Johnson and get hot the second 10. He didn't do like Tony and get hot the last 10. There's been no streaks this year. Kenseth has come as close as anything the last three or four weeks in the Busch Series and Cup Series. When Biffle got hot last year he was streaking for half a year almost and then he just went dead cold. Jimmie got hot in the middle part of the year, and Tony got hot when it counted. I think anybody can look out across the field and see the guy who is going to sit everybody on their ear. He hasn't popped up yet. He may pop up when we get to New Hampshire. Maybe he's sandbagging right now, but I doubt it, but I don't think today, sitting at Richmond, there is that guy."

HOW SHOULD THE CHAMPIONS PROVISIONAL BE CHANGED? "You're talking about that, let's be totally honest, because there's a shortage of drivers. Everybody is going to get Terry Labonte and Bill Elliott. Next in line will be Darrell and we'll go get The King. That's the way it is. Part of what's hurting that, in Kyle Petty's opinion, is when they drop the flag on a Busch race on Saturday, 21 of the drivers are Cup drivers. How are the Busch drivers going to get any experience? They can't get any experience because there are no slots for 'em. Even the guys driving on the Busch Series are not driving in Cup quality equipment. When you look at it, we're compounding our own problem from an owner's perspective and from a Cup perspective. The King of driver development, Jack Roush, had to ask Mark Martin to stay another year. You ought to be able to look at that and say 'what's the problem?' The guy who started driver development had to ask an older driver to hang another year. I don't think the driver development thing worked out like they thought it would. Where are all the drivers coming from to drive all the cars for all these new teams? I know Toyota has made their announcements, but there hasn't been a lot of driver announcements. Maybe I don't like the fact that an ex champion can just show up and make the race. He's an ex champion. He should be able to show up and do whatever he wants to do. If you look back, there's not a lot of ex champions. Realistically we're only talking about a couple of guys. I don't see the champions' provisional as being as big an issue as everybody makes it out to be."

WHAT'S THE STATE OF DODGE RIGHT NOW? "If you take the entire Dodge group they're more engaged right now than any other time in the previous five or six years. They've taken a special interest in their motorsports program. Did it come too late for 2006? It may have. There has been some changes from the beginning of the year to where we sit right now. At the same time, I think the group they have their now is very hands-on, a lot more hands-on than any group we've had in the past. The group they have there now is a lot more engage in NASCAR. The group they have there now is a lot more engaged with all the teams, not just one or two teams. I do believe from the Dodge perspective, Dodge has regrouped, reorganized, refocused and are recommitted to where they're headed with the program. Whatever shakes out in '06 remains to be seen. When you get down to one race to go and you say is Kasey in or out. It's not just one race that knocks Kasey in or out. It's things that happened previous in the year. That's the same way we are with Dodge. It's not this one race if Dodge gets in or not. It's how Dodge teams totally performed all year long. Who would have thought Kurt Busch would have had such a slow start or Ryan Newman would have had a season like he's had? I think we all felt coming in with the Charger with one year under our belt that we would be more competitive. Not that we've not been competitive. We've got no luck or something. Kurt Busch can lead 90 laps of a 100-lap race and something happens in the last 10 laps and he's out of the race. I'm really comfortable with where Dodge is at right now, maybe more so than in the previous five or six years."

HOW HAS THE CHASE CHANGED YOUR APPROACH TO SPONSORS? "It hasn't. I think everybody looks at that, and I think that was one of those fears that never shook out. The Chase model kind of changed and the sponsorship kind of changed at the same time. If you take Tire Kingdom or Marathon or Schwan's or Wells Fargo, those sponsors really don't care if you're in The Chase or not. What's in it for them is a market promotion, whether they have a big event in this market. I don't have to be in The Chase to have a huge promotion in the New Hampshire market. I don't have to be in The Chase for Marathon to run a big promotion in Kansas City. I don't' have to be in The Chase for Wells Fargo to run something in Texas. You've got a car at the track. You've got a car in the race, even when you don't make the race they still do the promotions. I think the misnomer of saying we're only going to pay you for 26 races and then if you make The Chase we'll pay you for the last 10, I don't think that ever flushed out. I think what did flush out was we're going to pay your for 36 and if you make The Chase there's a big bonus for you. I don't think it cut. I think it added. I think the general fear was that it was going to cut. I think the general fear was it was going to cut. I think smart business people look at it as a season. They don't look at it as a 10-race season. For us, it didn't affect our program with Dodge."

DOES WINNING BECOME LESS IMPORTANT IN THE CHASE? "Winning becomes part of the brand building. You build your brand up to be a winning brand. In the bigger picture a win is important. On a day-to-day basis, a win is not as important. The Yankees built a brand on winning. The Padres are still a brand, but they've not won as much. When you think Yankees, you think winning brand. When you think Hendrick you think winning brand. When you think some of these other teams you just don't think winning brand. That's global. When I think Coca-Cola, I think winning brand. You've got to look globally and those teams command more money. This is a funny sport. You're only as good as what you did last week anyhow. People forget really quick. Think of the times a driver gets fired four weeks into the season. You're looking at that car and you're wondering who started the year in that car. You only remember last week or two weeks. That's why guys in the sport can get out and fight on Sunday and be over it the next week or the week after. The sport just moves on in spite of itself. It's just like the tide. It comes in and rolls out. The footprints on the beach are washed away and nobody cares. It is a sport and in the bigger picture winning is critical. In the day to day and week to week, when I come here and whether Marathon does a promotion in the Richmond area, we leave on Sunday night and win, lose or draw and they got their promotion."

COMMENT ON MAKING 775 CAREER STARTS "I don't care about that. I don't think about it. All it really says is I've been here a long time. Just being around for a long time just means you've been around for a long time. Sometimes we'll be standing around talking and Dale Inman will say 'you remember when we ran Darlington in 1958?' I was born in 1960. Bud Moore was the same way. This was about eight or nine years ago and Bud said, 'how old are you now? About 54 or 55? I said, 'Bud, The King is only 59. How can I be 54 or 55?' He said, 'that's right, but you've been around a long time.' The problem was I started coming to the racetrack in the mid-60s with my father. I remember driving with my father from Riverside over to where they were building Ontario and that was the first racetrack I'd ever seen in my life with trees in the infield. They planted palm trees in the infield. You'd go to Asheville-Weaverville and they didn't have trees in the infield. We went out there in 1970 and Evel Knievel jumped. That's even better. That was like the big pre-race. Now there's a mall there. Then I ended up racing there in '79 and now that race track is not there. It's funny when I look back going to some of the racetracks on the northern tour and going to some of the places where we don't race now. I have been around a long time. I tell people all the time. I may have only won eight races, but I've been to victory lane more than anybody out here because I went with The King a bunch."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Terry Labonte , Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Jack Roush , Mark Martin