'Only superspeedway in Chase' This weekend, Kyle Petty and the ...
'Only superspeedway in Chase'
This weekend, Kyle Petty and the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team head to the 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for Sunday's Talladega 500. Petty will be making his 48th start at Talladega Sunday. He is one of the very few drivers to have raced on the track before restrictor plates were required for the cars. Petty has 19 top-10 finishes at the track.
Petty, 45, will be making his 742nd 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 Talladega:
"The restrictor plate, well into the foreseeable future, is going to be a part on these cars at Talladega. The speeds that we are going now, even at tracks like Texas and Atlanta, are extremely fast. If we were to take the plates off at Talladega, and I think we saw that when Rusty Wallace did this in a test session, the speeds are just incredible. The technology that is in the sport today, and with all the engineers who are involved, the wind tunnels, the aerodynamics, and shock and springs, I think the speeds can be even greater than whatever Rusty ran. That run wasn't anything they prepared to do, so if you think about it, yeah, the speeds can be even greater than that.
"That is why you need a restrictor plate at Talladega. We all had a real problem when Bobby Allison got airborne and started heading towards the grandstands. NASCAR knew that there was a problem, and that led to the restrictor plate. That one event can take the majority of the credit that there needed to be something done. That was a good thing. That was a safety measure. It's tough to argue the need and reason for the restrictor plate.
"The fact still remains that we are the ones driving these things. We know heading into this weekend what the race will be like. And, yeah, it is demanding. It's really more mentally tough than anything. We're running so close, so fast, that any little mistake is going to result in a major accident. I think you have to be patient and respect the guys around you. You have to respect the speeds we're racing at, and realize that a little mistake by anyone is going to result into something really big.
"This is a race where anything can happen. You can see a race go from start to finish without any cautions. You can see 30 cars parked in the corner on lap 50 all destroyed. You just can't predict what is going to happen to you in this race. I'm sure that plays on the minds of the guys racing for the championship. It's probably the one race where something bad can happen to you more easily than any other race. I guess some people can call this race the 'wild card' race in the chase.
"I still think it's good to have Talladega in the chase. I think it's really important to include this track. It's the only superspeedway in the last 10 races, and to be a champion you need to run well on all types of tracks. I wish they had put a road course in the final 10 races. I think that is important to determining a champion as well. We've got intermediate tracks, short tracks, and Talladega as the superspeedway. If you dropped Talladega it really only leaves you with short tracks and the intermediates as tracks that are in the final 10 races. I have to say it's good that Talladega is one of the final 10 races.
"You have to be a good everywhere and you have to race in different type of conditions. That's a part of being a champion in this series. Talladega is about drafting. Are you a good 'draft' racer or not? That's just another aspect of the final 10 races. Some guys are good on short tracks, and others are better on these big superspeedways. If you can be the best at all of them then you are given the championship. For us, and this Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team, it's all about getting a good finish. We're going to try to avoid the wrecks. If we can do that, you usually end up with a good finish at Talladega."