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Keeping Pace

Petty Enjoys Fruits Of Kahne’s Labor In Wine Country

Though Richard Petty long refused to feature an alcohol or tobacco sponsor on any of his cars, that changed when Petty partnered with George Gillett to form Richard Petty Motorsports. The organization fields cars for four drivers, including Kahne, who wears the livery of Budweiser, his primary sponsor.


By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

SONOMA, Calif.—Winning car owner Richard Petty got his first taste of victory lane in 10 years, and he savored it, right down to the red wine.

Though Petty long refused to feature an alcohol or tobacco sponsor on any of his cars, that changed when Petty partnered with George Gillett to form Richard Petty Motorsports. The organization fields cars for four drivers, including Kahne, who wears the livery of Budweiser, his primary sponsor.

So don’t blame Petty for having a few sips of 2005 Bennett Lane Cabernet Sauvignon in celebration of his first victory as a car owner since John Andretti won at Martinsville in 1999. Though he had to wait a decade, the grin was vintage Petty.

“Oh yeah, that’s the reason I like to come to Napa Valley,” said Petty, who then recounted a trip to a nearby winery. “I got in a cave the other night. They had wine down one side in big barrels, and then they had wine down the other side.

“As we walked in, I think we drank something out of every barrel. That was a long deal

 

. It (the cave) was straight, and when we got to the other end, and when I turned around, that dadgum cave was like that and like that (a zigzag motion). It was straight going in, (but) it wasn’t too straight coming out.”

Johnson and Busch rebound from contact for solid finishes

Neither Jimmie Johnson nor Kurt Busch had as much to celebrate as race winner Kasey Kahne, but both drivers left Infineon Raceway thankful for having rescued respectable finishes in the face off potential calamity.

Busch had a strong top-five car, until contact from Johnson’s Chevrolet sent his Dodge spinning out of control as the cars enter the “esses,” the section of the 1.99-mile road course that runs through Turns 8 and 9. Busch rallied to finish 15th in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 and took some of the sting out of the accident.

“I initially was thinking that it was a pretty tough day out there when you’re running fourth, and a three-time champion dumps you,” Busch said. “I was so worried we would go a lap down and finish way back there. He hit the curb and just launched us.

“He came over and apologized right after the race. It was just two champion drivers going after the same spot.”

For his part, Johnson incurred a pit-road speeding penalty on Lap 29 and spent the rest of the race working his way up to a career-best fourth-place finish at Infineon.

“I passed a lot of cars, so (I’m) very proud of the effort, very proud of the racecar,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, I got together with the No. 2 (Busch) getting into the esses and got him into the wall, so I had to find him and apologize. It was just a racing deal, nothing more.”

Said apologizes for poor finish

Road-course specialist Boris Said apologized to his team for a 24th-place finish, a result he attributed to a pit-road speeding penalty he incurred on Lap 67. Too fast on exit, Said had to serve a pass-through that dropped him to the back of the field and ended his chances for a top-five finish.

“I feel bad,” lamented Said, who had qualified ninth in the No. 08 Ford. “We had a top-five car—no problem—and I let the team down. I sped on pit road, (and) that lost us so much track position. We were coming back up through the field, and I got up to like 15th, and then somebody tagged me again right at the end.”


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Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.

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