Kyle Petty on New Role at SPEED Former driver Kyle Petty has joined SPEED in a role that will position the veteran television personality with John Roberts, Kenny Wallace, Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler on the popular NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pre-race show, NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot. Petty also will appear on the post-race program, NASCAR Victory Lane, and continue his role on the popular game show, NASCAR Smarts. SPEED caught up with the opinionated Petty to discuss his latest venture.
SPEED: Up until this point, you’ve served in a limited role for SPEED. Why have you chosen now to expand that role?
Petty: “It has taken me a full year of being out a of a race car to get my head wrapped around being out of a race car. From the time I got out of the car in Phoenix in 2008 all the way through ‘09, I still kind of thought of myself as a race car driver, and still do in a lot of ways. For lack of a better term, it took me about a year to get past the demons I’ve fought with going to the race track and not getting in a race car. That’s why I originally wanted a limited role with SPEED. It took a year for me to get over it mentally and get it in my head to do something different, but it’s an opportunity I’m excited about.”
SPEED: As not only a former driver who grew up at the track, but the son of the most successful NASCAR driver in history, you bring a unique perspective to the table. What do you think you bring to the table for the fans and viewers?
Petty: “I don’t think I bring anything more to this role than just being a fan with a little bit of knowledge. I’ve been a fan of the sport my whole life. I was born in June and went to my first race in July and have been going to race tracks all over the country ever since. I pulled for Richard Petty but I also pulled for Bobby Allison at some point in time. I’ve watched other drivers and have been fortunate and blessed to grow up in an era of the Pearsons, Yarboroughs and those guys, and then to watch Dale Earnhardt, Terry Labonte and Alan Kulwicki, and then to be present when Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and the young guys came in. Then you sprinkle in Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson in between them, so I have a fairly broad spectrum of experience I can call on. But there are a lot of fans who have that same kind of experience but they were sitting in the grandstands instead of inside the garage. I don’t think I bring anything other than just loving the sport and the people who participate in the sport more than anything. I try to take that perspective.”
SPEED: What are your expectations for this new and expanded role with SPEED?
Petty: “What I expect to get out of this is to still be able to walk through the garage area and say ‘hey’ to everybody, while at the same time, to be able to walk out onto the SPEED Stage and be a part of that group and better understand and more frequently interact with the fans. I drove a car for 30 years but my interaction with fans last year seemed double that of what it was my entire career because there are so many fans who come to the SPEED Stage and stand around when nothing on-track is going on, just waiting for something to happen. Just talking to fans and seeing their perspective. Sometimes you have a perspective of the sport – and mine was always inside those four fences of the garages and inside that circle - but to step outside that offers a little different perspective. I now can see why fans say certain things or do certain things or act certain ways where before I didn’t understand it at all. What I expect more than anything is to be able to stay in touch with the sport.”
SPEED™, anchored by its popular and wide-ranging coverage of NASCAR, is the nation’s first and only cable television network dedicated to automotive and motorcycle racing, performance and lifestyle. Now available in more than 79 million homes in North America, SPEED is among the industry leaders in interactive TV, video on demand, mobile initiatives and broadband services. For more information, please visit SPEEDtv.com, the online motor sports authority.