Andretti and Petty fans have a reason to smile this Memorial Day weekend, when the two racing dynasties unite once more to compete in the 98th Indianapolis 500.
Richard Petty, who is arguably the face of NASCAR with his seven Cup titles and 200 race wins, will be fielding the No. 43 Dallara/Honda/Firestone Window World entry for John Andretti.
Per PR report from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway site, Petty states the following of his inaugural venture as a car-owner in the Greatest Spectacle of Racing:
"Never did I think I would have the opportunity to be part of the Indianapolis 500. I know how much this means to John Andretti and the Andretti family, and I'm looking forward to seeing John on the track in May."
Andretti is no stranger to Petty as his boss, as he formerly drove the No. 43 STP/Cheerios-sponsored efforts from 1998 to 2002, with a part-time audition for Petty Enterprises in 1994.
Though the 46-year-old Indianapolis native did not light up the field with his career numbers, he managed to keep the familiar Petty Blue colors as a steady runner, finishing as high as 11th in the championship series in 1998 and a remarkable victory at Martinsville Speedway in April of 1999.
Andretti, whose uncle Mario scored a memorable victory in the 1969 Indy 500, would like to duplicate his famous relative's feat in a race that has seemingly cursed his racing family for the past 40 years.
The enticing opportunity for Petty's foray into the open-wheel circuit was spearheaded and influenced by Andretti, who invited his former car owner to watch the race last year.
While both racing dynasties have struggled to reclaim their consistent, winning ways of past, the dynamic pairing adds a bit of luster to the IndyCar Series' most prestigious race of the season.
The two icons are synonymous with the NASCAR circuit, which allows the event to have some "stock car flavor" back into the fold.
In past years, the double-duty efforts of racing in the 500 and NASCAR's Memorial Day weekend tradition in the Coca-Cola 600 have become impossible to accomplish thanks to an early afternoon start at Indy.
Realistically, the chances of the Andretti/Petty pairing winning the 500 are not as likely as the superteams of the IndyCar circuit.
However, the No. 43 effort, which will have its equipment supplied by Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, will appeal the stock car enthusiasts to at least keep their eye at the famed Speedway, Indiana circuit's month-long festivities from Pole Day to race day itself on May 24 (1 PM/ET on ABC).
Racing fan or not, you have to admit that an Andretti winning the 2009 Indianapolis 500 would make a lot of noise in the sporting world.
If John or Marco Andretti capture this year's prestigious open-wheel event, it may affirm the "death" of the Andretti Curse, the dark cloud which has haunted this famous racing family for 40 years.
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