Kyle Petty’s No. 45 Dodge team has slipped to 35th in the car owner standings, but he’s still guaranteed to be in Sunday’s Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway and that will help him make a little history.
The race will be Petty’s 810th career start, breaking a tie with Darrell Waltrip for fifth on the all-time list. Only Richard Petty (1,184), Ricky Rudd (901), Dave Marcis (883) and Terry Labonte (851) have more.
“When I started racing in ’79, if you would have told me that I would have more starts than Darrell Waltrip or some of these other guys I would have said ‘no way,’” Petty said. “As the years go by you really can’t picture yourself doing anything else. So then they start to add up.”
Sunday’s race will be Petty’s 54th at Martinsville.
“Experience really comes into play at a track like Martinsville,” he said. “Even though it is the smallest track we go to, 500 laps there can make for a long day if you get yourself in trouble early.”
Petty can ill afford that. He’s now on the bubble for having a guaranteed spot in the first five races in 2008. Dave Blaney moved past Petty into 34th after Blaney finished sixth at Charlotte.