Petty Eyes Grand Am Ride

Kyle Petty came to Daytona International Speedway Tuesday to test the No. 45 Orbit Racing BMW Riley in preparation for the 2009 Rolex 24 At Daytona. However, the veteran of nearly 20 seasons at NASCAR's highest level admitted that may only be the beginning of his involvement in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.

"We're trying to put something together to run not only the 24 hours, but all year long," Petty said. "Obviously, I'm in a place with the Cup stuff where I don't really have a ride right now. I've always said this is where I want to be. When I came here the first time, I said to run the Grand-Am division would be the next step up. I don't want to go back to Nationwide, I don't want to run the Trucks, that's a step down from the Cup Series. But this is a step over. I wouldn't look to this as a step down, this is a step to the top level of road racing."

Also testing the No. 45 Orbit Racing InterMedia BMW Riley were IndyCar Series veteran Darren Manning along with Michael Riolo and Lawrence Stroll.

"It was a lot of fun," Petty said. "It's been probably a couple years since I've driven a DP car. I've driven for (Orbit Racing's) Rodger Hawley before, and these are a good group of guys."

Petty raced three times in the Rolex 24 with Orbit, finishing seventh in 2001, 15th in 2002 and sixth in 2003. His co-drivers in all three races were Leo Hindery - who is set to co-drive in the Rolex 24 - and Peter Baron, who now manages Orbit's Daytona Prototype program. Petty ran several additional Rolex Series races for Orbit, winning the 2001 Bully Hill Vineyards 250 at Watkins Glen International with John Andretti.

"It's nice to get into a car like this that somebody like Darren set up," Petty said. "He's a great road racer - that's his background. I grew up in ovals, and I've got no clue here. Darren is telling me where to brake, and I'm scared to death trying to figure out how to brake."

Manning drove for Baron in the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona, finishing second with Ryan Dalziel, Patrick Carpentier and Milka Duno in the SAMAX Pontiac Riley in one of the closest finishes in the history of the event.

Now, Petty is contemplating a fulltime move to the team.

"Rodger and I have talked numerous times, but the time was wrong for me or the time was wrong for Roger," Petty said. "Hopefully, where Orbit Racing is right now, and where I'm at with my career, hopefully we can put together something and run. Who knows? I know I'd like to run Utah, Barber - I'd like to go to Alabama and not have to run Talladega one year - how would that be?"

Related Topics:

Grand Am, 2008, Kyle Petty

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