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The Streak Starts Sunday The "Heart" of the Nextel Cup Season Begins Now This weekend, Kyle Petty and the ...

The Streak Starts Sunday
The "Heart" of the Nextel Cup Season Begins Now

This weekend, Kyle Petty and the #45 Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge team will head to the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway, located in the city of Fort Worth, for Sunday's Samsung 500.

The Nextel Cup Series makes a "switch" back to standard Nextel Cup cars this weekend after the past two weeks racing the "Car of Tomorrow". After an off weekend, Sunday's race starts a series of 14 consecutive weekends of racing. Teams will not get an off weekend until the middle of July.

The countdown to 800 career starts continues this weekend for Petty. Petty will be making his 792nd Nextel Cup start this weekend. He has eight starts at the Texas Motor Speedway. Petty teamed up with Billy Wilburn late last season and finished 11th together. Petty ran in the top-10 for most of the race last fall.

Comments from Petty as he prepares for Sunday's Samsung 500:

"Who else has a season like us? Think about it. Football goes from fall into early February, basketball is getting ready to get into playoffs, hockey too. Baseball is the probably the closest sport that has as many events as we do. They at least go from April to October. Our season is long. We go from February right into November. We are getting into the heart of this schedule right now.

"We go straight into July without a break. We have the all-star race, but every other race is a point's race. Every race matters now. This is the time of the season when you better have everything together. You better have your cars ready, your guys in shape and everyone ready for week-to-week competition. This schedule is just like a train. It's just going to keep rolling on. You have to be ready for it.

"I think we've seen some things shake out so far this season, but I don't think we've seen everything yet. Obviously, Jimmie Johnson and that team have picked up where they left off last season. They have had some really good races. We see some other guys that are pretty strong too. On the other hand, we have seen some teams struggle. You had guys that had a slow start to the season, but are probably going to move back up. Look at the results after Martinsville. You had guys move up five or six positions. We can see those guys to do again or they can fall right back. I don't think we've seen everything shake out yet.

"The end of this stretch of races, however, we'll probably have a good idea of who the championship contenders will be. We're going to be racing intermediate tracks, a road course, a superspeedway and some Car of Tomorrow races too. The guys that can get out of those races with good runs are the ones that are going to be contenders in the final 10 races too.

"Basically, it's time to go. We know that we're not in the position that we want to be, but we know that we have the opportunity ahead of us. There are going to be plenty of races to improve. I hope everyone enjoyed their Easter break. We really aren't going to slow down now. The guys at Petty Enterprises are ready for it and the Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge is ready to start a good streak this weekend.

-credit: pe

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kyle Petty , Jimmie Johnson