Andretti and Petty Discuss Indianapolis 500
Richard Petty, co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports and John Andretti, driver of the No. 43 Window World/Richard Petty Motorsports/Dreyer and Reinbold Racing Honda-Dallara spoke this afternoon at the Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway about their participation in this year’s Indianapolis 500.
It will be the first time Richard Petty has entered a car into the Indianapolis 500. Window World, a sponsor of Andretti and Front Row Motorsports in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will also be making its debut at the Indianapolis 500.
Window World will be the only new sponsor in motorsports in 2009 to have sponsored an entry in the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500- both with Andretti behind the wheel
Andretti will be looking to make his 10th start at Indianapolis.
Below is a transcript of today’s media session:
“Well, John is entering me I think. John talked to me some time last year and worked on a deal before that race last year. We never could get anything together. Then John worked on everything since then. He got Window World, some local guys from North Wilkesboro (N.C.), and John and I got together. He told me what he could do and I told him what I could do. So, now we’re getting ready for it.
“I’ve always been tied up so much with the stock cars that I never really got into the Indy Cars other than being fascinated by their mechanics and professionalism. Now that I’m not as day-to-day-to-day as I used to be with the company, this allows me to go do something. John drove for us for a long time and we got to be buddies. He came and said, “Let’s try this.” I said, “I’ll try anything once!” That’s why we are there.
“I’ll do part of the “double”. I’ll go up for part of qualifying and then come back for the Darlington race. I’ll then go back up to Indy for the ‘500’ and come back in time for the ‘600’. It’s going to be easier on me than on the driver, let’s put it that way.
“Last year was the first time I ever thought about entering a car. John said something about it, and I know there are a few Cup guys that have cars up there in Indianapolis. I think even Richard Childress put his hands in there too at some point. It’s the first time we’ve had the opportunity to be involved. It’s going to be great. Already, just the excitement of me doing it and being involved. We have a lot of crew guys that came through the Indy ranks and they are excited about it.”
“I think we can put together a competitive effort with everyone and Dreyer and Reinbold Racing. That’s why we didn’t do with ‘The King’ last year. To get Richard involved, and bring the number ‘43’ to Indianapolis, we wanted to do it the best. Window World, like Richard said, were the ones that put everything together.
“We have great people between Richard Petty Motorsports and Dreyer and Reinbold Racing. To get the drive the ‘43’ again is something that I’m looking forward to again. I have a great relationship with the Petty family and really enjoy my time with them. I get to drag Richard to where I’m at now since I can’t be where he’s at.
“I think the big thing with this deal is that we’re starting on the first day out. Last year when I did the Indy 500 I went and did four more IndyCar races. That made me realize I could be better prepared for Indianapolis. I think I learned a lot last year. The cars are the same this year. They still have the paddle shifts. A lot of things have been frozen. I feel like I can go there and work really hard to make sure everything is there.
“The team I’m running with, Dreyer and Reinbold, is a full-time team with a full-time staff. It’s not like we’re coming in part-timing this thing or just to have fun with it. We’re coming in with a really serious effort. Dreyer and Reinbold have spent a lot of money in development so we’re looking forward to it.
“People have seen the Petty’s and Andretti’s in the past so they might as well see us in Indy. We’ve been to Indy before together with a roof on so now we’re going to run the convertible. The month of May is a unique month. You have a whole month to do it. I’d love for Richard to be up there as much as possible because I think he’d and the fans both enjoy each other.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s a track that I passed every day when I was going to high school. Our family, that’s what we grew up around. So, the Indianapolis 500 is extremely important. To have Richard be a part of it, my passion is to always do well in the No. 43.
“I went back to Indy a few years back and I was worried. The car had changed, the tires had changed and the motor was different. Everything had changed but the track. By the end of the first day I felt completely comfortable. Driving a race car is like driving a race car. Once you’ve driven it, you figure out what it can give you, and you push as hard as you can. Michael (cousin Michael Andretti) came down and started beating on me. He said, ‘You can’t run that NASCAR line out there.’ I said, ‘Well, give me five laps to figure it out. Don’t beat on me now.’ I had plenty of coaching.
“The first conversation wasn’t with Richard. I had talked to Robbie (Loomis) and asked if he thought Richard would come up on race day. It was ten minutes later and I got call and he said, ‘yea.’ Richard, Dale Inman, Robbie Loomis and Brian Moffitt all came up on race day last year. They got to go around and see what it’s like. It’s a different atmosphere, a lot of tradition and it’s just unique in so many different ways. When I drove for Richard, I talked about it each year the entire month of May. Hopefully now he can come up and enjoy it."
“Last year was the first time that I’ve been there for the race. With STP we used to go up there for qualifying, but we always had our Cup racing to get back to. Last year was the first time that I got to go for the ‘500’. Last year I went to the Kentucky Derby and went to the Indianapolis 500. I’ve been to World Series and Super Bowls, but the Indianapolis 500 was still a big deal on my little list of things to do. I know it’s been going on for 90 to 100 years, but I’d never been there. I’d been there for opening day, but not the race.
“It’s a just a little bit different than the ‘400’ because we’re used to stock cars. We know how things go there, but to be there for one of the premier sports deal of the year, was a big, big deal.
“This is just sort of a one shot deal. We wanted to go and be a part of the big deal. I’m not looking into doing anything more, but we all still have to make a living. You just never say never.
“My involvement in stock cars has always been pretty involved because I owned the cars. The other guys who raced at Indy drove for someone else. They had the time to go out there and do that. I couldn’t afford it because stock cars were my business. If I left and did something else I wouldn’t have any business. I never really considered driving one of those cars.
“The atmosphere, you just have to be there to really understand how big it is. You can tell people how big these events are, but you have to be there.”