2008 Ride: No. 45 Petty Enterprises Dodge
2008 Primary Sponsors: Wells Fargo/Paralyzed Veterans of America/Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil/Coca-Cola
2008 Owner: Richard Petty/Boston Ventures
2008 Crew Chief: Billy Wilburn (Feb. – Apr.); Stewart Cooper (Apr. – Nov.)
Stats: 15 races, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s, 1 DNF, 2 DNQs, 44th in points
Best Finish: 24th (Richmond – September)
Average Finish: 34.8
High Point: OK, let’s be honest here. Other than his dedication to charity and the Victory Junction Gang Camp(s), there was no high point to the 2008 season for Kyle Petty. If you consider a season best 24th-place finish at Richmond in September a “high point,” then by all means, that has to be it.
Low Point: The entire 2008 season! I mean, where do you start? All year, there were talks of mergers here, talks of mergers there for Petty Enterprises… even after they got investors! Deals were on… no, wait, they were off! It was a merry-go-round of speculation combined with some of the worst on-track performances since Petty took over the No. 45 car eight years ago.
Probably the lowest point for the team, though, occurred back in September when the full scope of the turmoil at Petty Enterprises was brought to light. At the time, not many people within the organization had much to say about the situation; but Kyle’s wife, Patti, took it upon herself to speak her mind.
“Maybe I’m the only one here willing to tell the truth,” she said. “They haven’t wanted Kyle in the car the last three years. They want a young driver, a 30-year-old, a 20-year-old. But Wells Fargo, our sponsor, says it’s going to stay with Kyle, whatever he does. I wish Chip Ganassi would take a look at Kyle. He’s got a 12-race sponsorship deal for next year that would be a perfect part-time schedule for Kyle. And Kyle could help mentor a young driver. [Petty Enterprises leadership] told him at Watkins Glen – right when he was standing there in his driver’s suit – that they didn’t want him in the car.”
At the time, it was highly suspected that Kansas would be Kyle’s last race with PE, which turned out not to be the case. King Richard’s son did drive the No. 45 Petty Enterprises Dodge – most likely for the last time – in the 35th race of the year at Phoenix, finishing 39th. Unfortunately, he crashed out of that race – Kyle’s only DNF of his 15 starts for the season – writing a rough ending for what could have been his final Sprint Cup Series start.
Summary: Not good. Not good at all. Fans have probably seen the last of Petty in a Cup car… but wait! Let’s look at the 2009 Outlook!
2009 Outlook: Depending on what you believe, Petty’s Cup career may be far from over after all. The LATEST rumor, as of January 2nd, was that E&M Motorsports would field Kyle in the No. 08 Dodge in as many as 14 races – with Wells Fargo as a sponsor. That, however, has been denied, with multiple sources saying nothing’s been signed for 2009 as of yet.
Two days before that, it was reported that Gillett Evernham Motorsports (GEM) will merge with Petty Enterprises – possibly becoming GPM, as we all know that Ray Evernham is totally out of the deal. But that, too, is still speculation at this point, as nothing has been finalized because it would seem all those involved change their minds as often as they change their collective socks and underwear. Your guess is as good as mine… personally, I’d advise you not to even think about it all, as it could cause insanity.
What is known about Kyle’s future (I think… maybe… at last report) is that he is slated to run… well, screw it! I’ll let Kyle speak for himself.
“I’m going to do my six TV races for Turner [Sports],” Kyle said. “I’m still working with SPEED, doing [the] Tradin’ Paint [show], and I’ll be able to do a couple different things with them, maybe with the Grand American division or a couple other things. I’m just going to take a step back and see what goes on, and see where the sport goes and see where motorsports goes for the next little bit and try to figure out what I’m going to do. I’m going to run the 24-Hour [Rolex] race at Daytona. That may be my only race of the year; maybe I’ll run more races. I don’t know what I’m doing. If the right opportunity came along, I think I’m like Bill Elliott. I’m not ready to retire. I may not be there every week, but I don’t consider myself retired. You know what I mean? So if the right opportunity came along where I thought we could be competitive, with the right leadership and the right group, I think I would be [interested]. But right now, just [looking at it] as a sports fan over the last eight or 10 years, it’s a business decision. If somebody has the money – if you have the sponsorship and you have the dollars – it’s easier to find something. But right now, there aren’t a lot of people out there with money.”
I think I need a handful of aspirin!
2006 Frontstretch Grade: C
2007 Grade: C
2008 Grade: F