Pettys proud of Adam's performance By Bill Frederickson DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 13, 1999) When Adam Petty climbed from his race car after his sixth-place performance Saturday in the NAPA Auto Parts 300 at Daytona International Speedway, he...
Pettys proud of Adam's performance By Bill Frederickson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 13, 1999) When Adam Petty climbed from his race car after his sixth-place performance Saturday in the NAPA Auto Parts 300 at Daytona International Speedway, he was warmly greeted by his family. But this is no regular racing family.
Petty's dad, NASCAR Winston Cup Series competitor Kyle Petty, and his grandfather, the "King" of stock car racing Richard Petty, were right there at the Unocal 76 gas pumps to welcome the newest racing Petty after the hair-raising run.
"If you end up at these gas pumps, you know you had a good day," Adam said.
The Pettys were soon surrounded by a throng of reporters, cameramen and well-wishers from around the garage area. Father and grandfather were clearly proud of the young Petty's showing. Richard even admitted being slightly surprised.
"I was just hoping he would run all day and get out of here in one piece," he said. "I didn't figure he'd finish in the top-five like this."
Richard, who has seven Daytona 500 victories to go along with his seven NASCAR Winston Cup Series championships, watched Adam execute a smart and patient plan. But he said he wasn't able to communicate with his grandson to provide any pointers during the race.
"In my head I was," Richard said. "But no, they didn't give me a radio, I think they were afraid I'd be talking on it too much.
"I'm just as proud as a grandfather could be. The situation was you'd watch him and hold your breath. He did a heckuva good job. He just watched what was going on and didn't try anything crazy. That was the good thing."
Adam's proud father found himself so nervous he was unable to watch much of the race. But after Adam survived the caution-filled day, Kyle was all smiles.
"I'm so proud," Kyle said. "The good Lord was with us today."
Adam was pleased with his run too, but says it wasn't completely unexpected. After an offseason of hard work, and help in the pits from his father's and grandfather's NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams, he wasn't going to accept a poor performance.
"I would have been upset if we hadn't got a top-10 as hard as we worked this year," Adam said.
"We didn't have this team three weeks ago and we've worked awfully hard to get here."
With the laps winding down, Adam found himself slicing and dicing among the lead draft. At that point a top-five finish was probable, and a shot at Victory Lane was wasn't out of the question.
"Toward the end of the race, my expectations got a little high," Adam said. "I could feel second place coming. But, hey, for my first Daytona race, I'm happy.
"We only got two of these superspeedways each year, the rest are intermediate tracks. So we just try and run around and get through these.
"If we had to run these every week, I don't know if I'd be a race car driver. Some of the moves I saw out there, I'd never make, even when I'm playing on the computer."
Adam said his team's spotter, Dale Inman, was trying to work a deal with the spotter from Jeff Green's team. He was also interested in pairing up with good friend Casey Atwood for a run at the lead. That was one of many late-race decisions made in the pits by teams attempting to catch leader -- and eventual winner -- Randy LaJoie.
"I think everybody's got plans," Adam said. "But who listens to them, I don't know. I think I could've gotten to the outside of Casey. I don't think anybody here had anything on Randy LaJoie. He was super fast all day long -- all week long. And we were just lucky to be in the right place at the right time there at the end.
Luck may have had something to do with Adam's success, but one could also chalk it up to destiny. But the Petty family's track record at this 2.5-mile high-banked superspeedway is unmatched.
Besides Richard's seven Daytona 500 titles, he also picked up his 200th -- and final -- career win there, in the 1984 Firecracker 400. Kyle won his first-ever ARCA race at Daytona 20 years ago, in 1979. Even Adam's great-grandfather, Lee Petty, has won at Daytona. The family's first legendary racer won the inaugrual event at the track in 1959. Now Adam has kicked off his first full season in the NASCAR Busch Series with with a strong run at Daytona, flashing the potential that has many people in the garage area excited.
"Daytona likes the Pettys," Adam said, "but I don't know if it likes Adam yet."
Well, one thing's sure, a lot of people at Daytona like Adam Petty. As he fielded questions from the press immediately following the race, Adam was barraged with congratulations from fans, officials and fellow competitors.
"Adam ran one heckuva race," said series veteran Bobby Hillin, who finished fifth Saturday. "Watching Adam and Dale (Earnhardt) Jr., last year you can tell, even though they don't have the seat time, that they're fathers have done some talking to them."
And Adam says he's not only listening to his father, he's watching everyone else.
"I learned a whole lot today," Adam said. "I followed Randy LaJoie and Jeff Green around. And Bobby Hillin was up there."
With Adam, 18, Atwood, 18, and Kevin Grubb, 20, running among the leaders at the end, youth has definitely been served in the NASCAR Busch Series. And while LaJoie, 37, celebrated in Victory Lane, Adam illustrated the generation gap -- and his math skills -- to reporters in the media center.
"You know, me and Casey's ages add up to Randy's age," he said.
Source: NASCAR Online