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Richard Petty returns to track

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 25, 2000


CONCORD, N.C. -- As he walked through the Winston Cup garage Wednesday at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Richard Petty was met with pats on the back and words of encouragement whispered in his ear.

It was the first time Petty had been to a racetrack since his grandson, 19-year-old Adam Petty, died in a Busch Grand National practice crash on May 12 at New Hampshire International Speedway. "I think that you see very few 19-year-old kids that have touched as many people as what Adam has," Richard said. "I think the majority of people who ever met him remember his smile, patting him on the back, joking with him. I guess that's probably the best memory that anybody could ever have of anybody."

Kyle Petty, Adam's father and driver of the No. 44 Pontiac, was not at Lowe's. He withdrew from The Winston and Coca-Cola 600 activities but is expected to return for the MBNA Platinum 400 next week at Dover Downs International Speedway. Steve Grissom, who drives for Petty Enterprises in the Craftsman Truck series, is filling in for Kyle this weekend.

Adam, whose best Busch finish was fourth, had begun his move to Winston Cup and was scheduled to compete in five races this season before racing full time next season. In his only Winston Cup start, Petty started 33rd in the DirecTV 500 on April 2 at Texas Motor Speedway and finished 40th.

The Coca-Cola 600 was supposed to be his second attempt at qualifying for a Winston Cup race.

"Right now, we're just re-evaluating everything (at Petty Enterprises) we had because, as everybody knows, we were putting a lot of future things in the basket with Adam to sort of carry the torch for us," Richard said. "Now, we just have to re-evaluate everything. From that standpoint, it will be a little bit of time before we get that figured out.

"It's sort of like a farmer. Just because he has a drought one year, he plants again next year. We do the same thing."

WALKWAY COLLAPSE: Three people remained in critical condition at two hospitals after Saturday's pedestrian walkway collapse.

FORMULA ONE: A dozen years after a crash nearly cost him his legs and a shot at stardom, Johnny Herbert is about finished in F1. The 35-year-old Englishman with just three victories in 150 starts isn't ready to retire, however. After being the prey of Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen, Herbert is set to do some hunting himself, hoping to find a job at the Indy 500. COOLERS OKAY: Texas Motor Speedway officials have decided to let fans keep their coolers despite a February vote giving the track the right to sell beer. State law allows fans to bring alcoholic beverages in coolers or stadiums to sell it in grandstands, but not both.

-- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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