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The King Keeps Telling Like It Is

Richard Petty was so generous with his time and patience that we’re able to bring you this extra, final candid segment. Clearly, here is a man who is comfortable in his opinions and perspectives, having earned them over 50 years of racing. He doesn’t shoot from the lip, but he doesn’t back away either.

MoparMax: What’s your take on Toyota moving into Cup this year?

Richard Petty: They are going to come in for a year or two to get all the bugs worked out of their stuff. I don’t think they are going to come in and set the woods on fire. And even if they could, I don’t think they would. You know what I mean?

I think they want to come in and be a player. They want to earn their stripes. They don’t want to say, ‘OK, we’re going to go in there and spend a billion dollars and blow everybody away.’ They have to learn their equipment, their drivers, their crews – so the overall deal will be a learning process.

That’s what they did in Trucks. They came in and sort of piddled along and got a little bit better every time. Then, come the first of ’06, they hit it, man. Started winning everything. I see that as their game plan – I don’t know, I haven’t talked to them (laughs).

I know that Dodge came in and did pretty good – they earned their stripes. This year was not a good year for Dodge at all. The deal being we didn’t get any better with the product we had. We started out pretty good – but then we leveled off – we did not improve our product like the other brands.

MM: What about 2007?

RP: This year Chevrolet is coming with a new engine. We’re [Dodge] going to be behind even more because you know that [Chevy] have an engine better than what they had, or they wouldn’t come with it.

Toyota is in the process of looking at what Chevrolet has got, what Dodge has got, what Ford has got, and then NASCAR gives them a square box and says everything has got to go in here.

So they can look at what is the strongest part of a Dodge; what is the strongest part of a Chevrolet engine; what is the strongest part of a Ford engine – and they can put all those ingredients in one engine. So they should have a great engine right off the bat – practically bulletproof. They should have their arms around the engine part [of Cup racing] because they are going in with a clean sheet of paper and cherry-picking.

This is what Dodge did when they returned; they had a good engine, but all of the sudden, NASCAR changed the rules on them. They changed the bore and stroke –  all of the sudden we’re setting there with a great big engine and you don’t need that big of an engine to match the ingredients that they’re giving us to put in an engine now. We need a smaller engine now!

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