Richard Petty Set To Return To Track
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on April 23, 2014 | 12:40 P.M. EST
Richard Petty has missed the last three races after his wife's death, but he's expected back at Richmond this weekend. (Photo: Getty Images)
Richard Petty is expected to be at Richmond International Raceway this weekend, the first time he’s been at the track since his wife Lynda died last month.
Aric Almirola and crew chief Trent Owens, who is Petty’s nephew, say that Petty has remained involved with the team even while spending time at home.
"He’s doing well," Owens said of Petty. "Being back at the racetrack is going to be good for our team and good for him. When something like that happens, you want to hide for a little bit and get your feelings straight. He’s been by the shop and has been in good spirits. I think he’s doing very well, considering."
Petty skipped races at Martinsville Speedway, Texas and Darlington Raceway after his wife’s death.
"He comes to about 95 percent of the races every year and for him to take ... three weeks off, I know he’s itching to get back to the racetrack," said Almirola, who spent Tuesday with Petty at an appearance in Nashville, Tenn.
Almirola said that Petty has monitored the team's progress from home with the help of cousin Dale Inman, his former crew chief.
"He’s spent some time at home, to collect his thoughts and get his feelings straight. But man, you can’t take the racer out of that guy," Almirola said of Petty. "He’s been watching practices, watching qualifying and watching the races.
"Dale Inman goes home Sunday night and gives him the full report on what went down that weekend and how things went. He knows everything that’s been going on. He’s still been very involved. He just hasn’t been at the track."
Until this weekend.
"He’s our leader," Almirola said. "He’s the guy we all look up to. I’m excited about having him at the track."
With Petty’s return, Almirola knows he’ll get his share of advice from "The King."
There are things I can pick up on on what he says about different racetracks," Almirola said. "The one thing I will say I pick up from him the most is that during practice, he’ll stand on top of the hauler and he’ll watch me, he’ll watch other people ... and Dale Inman will stand up there, too. After practice, they’ll come down and talk with me (about what they saw)."
Motor Racing Network – "The Voice of NASCAR" – will have live coverage of Saturday's Toyota Owners 400 from Richmond International Raceway starting at 6 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com.