December 09, 2008
So here's a story that, as a racing fan, makes your heart clench a little bit. Kyle Petty is being edged out the door at Petty Enterprises, yet another sign that the old-school business of NASCAR is changing once and for all.
"I don't work for Petty Enterprises," Petty told NASCAR.com on Monday. "When they did their deal and sold to Boston Ventures, Chad [McCumbee] was going to drive the second car and Bobby [Labonte] was going to drive the first car; they pretty much let me know there wasn't a place for me there going into '09. My deal runs out at the end of the year, but I don't go over there [to the shop in Mooresville, N.C.] because I don't work there."
There's business and there's family, and never should the two mix -- except in NASCAR, where they mix constantly. But that kind of thinking doesn't necessarily jibe with 21st-century business, which has left Petty in the lurch.
Then again, 21st-century business doesn't quite seem to know what to do in NASCAR, according to Petty, who believes Boston Ventures doesn't quite know what it was getting into when it bought Petty. "I kind of think it's like when you were a kid, and I think their eyes overloaded their stomach. I think they put more on the plate than what they could eat, to be honest with you ... It was a different business and it got into a different place than where Boston Ventures wanted to be -- and I just don't think they have the stomach for it. It's their company and they can do with it what they want to. That's the way it works."
For Kyle Petty, the Petty Enterprises "family" ceased to exist when the team moved operations to Charlotte, and he insists he's not bitter about the move. Still, it's tough to see one of the true good guys in sports cast aside like this. If Petty doesn't run in 2009, it'll mark the first season he's been without a ride since 1979 -- and the first season NASCAR's been without a Petty behind the wheel ever.
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