Kyle Petty was ousted from his Petty Enterprises ride when the team merged with Gillett Evernham during the offseason. And if you think the 48-year-old is going to walk away peacefully—you're wrong.
"I was crushed," the younger Petty said. "I was hurt and I'm not going to get over it for a while."
"The 43 and Richard Petty is at GEM, but not Petty Enterprises. So as far as I'm concerned the last year Petty Enterprises was in existence which I consider was 2007," he said.
Despite selling majority ownership to Boston Ventures last season, the struggling economy once again struck NASCAR and forced them to merge with GEM, now controlled by billionaire George Gillett.
"Petty Enterprises, when they left Level Cross, N.C., it became just another race team, they weren't Petty Enterprises anymore. So when I look at where our sport is and my father's business is, we've not existed in the guise of Petty Enterprises for a year or more because we moved away from where we were," Kyle Petty explained.
The team, renamed Richard Petty Motorsports, sported the No. 44 Valvoline Dodge in the same colors that Kyle Petty started—and won—his first race, an ARCA event at Daytona, with. But Petty still wasn't pleased.
“They did not ask me about the paint scheme,” he said. “That was my paint job and my car and my number and my stuff for my first win—not for Petty Enterprises or GEM or whoever that is. They can look at it how they want to, but I didn't get a call and that's worse.”
However, Petty said their was "no bitterness."
"If I was 22 years old I would be bitter as hell, OK. I'm 48 years old. I'm at the back side of a career, not the front side. So everything runs its course; it is a part of life. I started doing TV two years ago anticipating this day would come and I would not be a full-time driver and I would have to go do something else."
Petty also said he wouldn't watch the event on TV. His father, however, hopes things will eventually smooth over.
"I spoke to him a couple of times on the phone. He talked to his mother, and he was really crushed that we didn't include him in that part of it (the 44 car paint scheme). I understand that. We were so busy getting the deal done...it feel through the cracks, and I'm sorry that it did,'' The King said.
"He's been doing things on his own," the elder Petty also said. "I've not seen him since Christmas. He's been so busy, and I've been so busy. We never really got together.
When No. 43 driver Reed Sorenson, now driving a red car instead of the infamous Petty blue, was the fastest car in Happy Hour, Petty said it meant "nothing to me" and went on to say he believed the team was "still Ray (Evernham)'s team."
"I won't watch it on TV," he added.
Leaving the track for his home in North Carolina, the third generation Petty missed his father's team finishing third, fifth, and ninth in the biggest NASCAR race of the season. The No. 43 crew also won the Tissot Pit Road Precision Award after spending the least amount of time on pit road.
A.J. Allmendinger, who almost didn't drive for the famous team, feels for Petty.
“I think it’s a big deal,” Allmendinger said. “It was a tough offseason for everybody. It was a long offseason. There’s a lot of stuff that went on throughout the team with the merger. We came here and I think it shows how strong the team is now.”
Thanks to NASCAR.com, The Virginian-Pilot, The New York Times, USA Today, and Motorsports.com for the information and quotes used in this piece.