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Richard and Kyle Petty meet public at Race Against Prostate Cancer
Tempers a part of the game

August 29, 2005
By Tom Collins -
Courier & Press staff writer

When Kyle Petty and his father, Richard Petty, arrived in Evansville on Sunday for the Race Against Prostate Cancer, the thinking was that the younger Petty would be in a less-than-good mood.

On Saturday night, the NASCAR driver was involved in two crashes at the Nextel Cup Sharpie 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) Speedway. His Petty Enterprises teammate, Jeff Green, also was crashed into. And the same driver, Carl Edwards, did the crashing to both cars.

Would Kyle Petty still be steaming over the incidents? Or would they be chalked up merely as perils of racing, like so may NASCAR accidents are shrugged off?

Kyle explained what happened during the prostate cancer awareness event at The Centre’s Exhibit Hall, where Richard Petty’s 1974 Dodge Charger stock care and Mark Martin’s Viagra racer were on display.

“Carl got into Jeff early,” Kyle Petty said. “Then, later we got together and I think he thought it was retaliation for him hitting Jeff. Later in the race, he got into me one more time. When we got to talking afterwards, I apologized for getting into him because I didn’t even know he was there. Once he realized I didn’t know he was there, his whole attitude changed and he forgot about it.

“Tempers flare, especially at Bristol. There were lots of people mad after the race. But that’s Bristol and it’s always been that way. You don’t pay a lot of attention to those things the first time you run at Bristol (in the spring race).

“The first race isn’t as important. The way the point system is, and it’s boiling down to one or two races (to qualify for NASCAR’s “playoffs”), everybody pays a lot more attention to that second (Bristol) race.”

Matt Kenseth won Saturday’s race; Kyle Petty finished 25th out of 43 drivers.

Richard Petty, a stock-car legend and NASCAR’s all-time winningest driver, is a prostate cancer survivor. Kyle Petty made the keynote address at Sunday’s program.

Kyle Petty said NASCAR’s second Chase for the Nextel Cup battle “has everybody talking about it, so it must be a good idea. That’s what it was for, to get everyone excited about the points system. We race one of the longest seasons in sports, February to November. It’s a never-ending season.

“It’s tough to get fans excited for that long. So NASCAR decided we’ll run these 26 races for a little excitement. Then we’ll build it to a crescendo at the end.

“Last year, it came down to the end and two or three guys had a shot at the championship. It got pretty intense and there was lots of hard racing in the last three or four races,” said Petty, who is 31st in the standings. “That’s what you’re seeing now. It’s happened just a little earlier this year. Guys who missed getting in last year now are in it and they’re driving the wheels off everything. It’s good for the sport.

“People say Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Gordon wouldn’t get in. Jeff’s fought his way back into it (moving into the 10th and final qualifying spot), and with two races left (to make the Chase), he has a shot at the championship. Junior (who is 15th in the standings) doesn’t have a shot.

“People say if you’re not in it, your fans won’t come to watch you race. I don’t think so. NASCAR fans are very loyal. They’ll be there to the end.”

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