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Petty turns top run into outstanding finish

Petty turns top run into outstanding finish

Petty turns top run into outstanding finish

CONCORD, N.C. - Five days before his 47th birthday and almost 10 years after his last top-10 run, Kyle Petty decided to take a little gamble.

With the laps winding down in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Petty decided to avoid pitting for fuel in the final handful of laps. Already racing near the front, he didn't want to surrender position.

So he stayed out - and finished third in the race. That's his best finish since he also finished third in the fall Dover race in 1997. He had nothing for Hendrick Motorsports' Casey Mears, who also stayed out and won the race, or second-place finisher J.J. Yeley Sunday, but finishing third was a small victory for this team.

Nearing the cutoff line for being locked into the field, Petty found much to celebrate in the top finish.

"I know for myself and Casey this is huge," he said. "I was 31st in points and Casey was 35th in points. We gave ourselves a little bit of a cushion. We've had good runs only to have them fall flat in the last third of the race whether it be a cut tire or stuff breaking. For us that was big. I think when you look at it, especially for Casey and myself, that part was huge.

"If you look at these cars, [Mears and Yeley and I], we were good top-10 cars all day long and it took a good team effort to do it."

Petty did have an outstanding run throughout the 600-mile race and teammate Bobby Labonte finished 13th. For Petty, the finish equated to a gain of five spots in the owner standings, where he is now 26th and safely locked into the field for the coming weeks.

But this race was also a sign of where Petty Enterprises is heading and what the team has done to this point.

"I would like to think we're as strong as we have been," he said of the Petty organization. "When you look at what Bobby has done and the amount of laps he's led and the finishes and the amount of times he's got a lap down and made it back up on the race track, that's big. I'd like to think we're getting stronger. I'd like to think six months ago we were stronger than we were six months before that, so yeah, there's not a good time to step out [of the car]."

Yet Petty is going to do just that. He's going to step into the television booth for a five-race appearance beginning with the June 10 race at Pocono Raceway.

Top finishes aren't going to curb his plans to do that, either. John Andretti and Chad McCumbee will drive the car during his hiatus and Petty plans to drive and commentate at Infineon Raceway.

"I'm 46 years old and I'll be 47 on June 2," he said. "I'm just at that stage of my life where I want to do what I want to do and right now I want to do TV for a few races, so I'm going to step out. If we were winning races, I'd still step out.

"That's just where I'm at in my career. I think it gives John a chance to step into a car that's competitive. It gives Chad a chance to step into a car that's competitive, and I know it's a big boost for the guys at the shop."

Just like Sunday night's run was.

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Re: Petty turns top run into outstanding finish

mvbski wrote:

10 years after his last top-10 run

Talk about waking up from the dead  big_smile

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