Out-of-work NASCAR star Kyle Petty came to Daytona International Speedway to test the #45 Orbit Racing InterMedia BMW Riley in preparation for the 2009 Rolex 24 At Daytona – and hinted that may only be the beginning of his involvement in the Rolex Series.
“We're trying to put something together to run not only the 24 hours, but all year-long,” confirmed Petty, a veteran of nearly 20 seasons at NASCAR's highest level 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 in 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...This is a step to the top level of road racing.
“It was a lot of fun. 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 again set to co-drive in this year's edition of the round-the-clock classic – 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,” the 48-year-old enthused. “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.
“Rodger and I have talked numerous times, but the time was wrong for me or the time was wrong for Roger. Hopefully, [with] where Orbit Racing is right now, and where I'm at with my career, we can put together something and run. Who knows?”
Also testing the #45 machine were IndyCar Series veteran Darren Manning along with Michael Riolo and Lawrence Stroll.