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Taking a Left Turn: Welcome to Daytona ... King Richard Speaks ... Brian France As Well ... Stupid Rain

Pettyreagan DAYTONA BEACH -- Welcome to On Racing Pond, the NASCAR version of our slice of the internet.

Hanging at Daytona this weekend, up here for the two races. It's raining right now, but it should clear up for tonight's Grand National race. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Going to have news and notes throughout the race weekend so stop on back if that's your cup of brew. If not, hey, we aren't charging for this so come back later.

And if anything hockey breaks, we'll take a break from racing for that as well.

-- Richard Petty is sitting about 20 feet from me in the media center talking about his participation here this weekend. Petty, of course, is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his final NASCAR win, a milestone victory which just happened to be No. 200 of his illustrious career.

After winning No. 200, Petty continued running for eight more seasons. He said today that he never thought that big victory -- one in which President Ronald Reagan visited Victory Lane -- would be his last.

"The big part was the president of the United States was there and it was July 4,'' Petty said. ''I couldn't have written a better script. It all just fell together. Back then it was a big deal. It's probably still a big deal in some people's mind. It's great to be back, great to be here after 25 years.

''It's not every July 4 when you get to sit down with the president of the United States and have a chicken wing with him.''

Petty is going to be honored by the track throughout the weekend, and he's going to pace the field Saturday night in a replica of that car he won the race in. He might just test the mettle of that ride. His son Kyle will serve as the race's grand marshal.

''That's going to interesting,'' King Richard said. ''They're starting me in the front and I don't have a restrictor plate. It's going to be a really big deal for me, just those memories coming back and being in front of so many people. It really brings back a bunch of good memories. Some bad ones too, but you try to let the good ones overcome that.''

-- Brian France, the chairman of NASCAR, spoke at length today about the decision by a federal judge to overturn the suspension of Jeremy Mayfield. Mayfield, who could have run this weekend, hasn't been seen around these parts but it's possible he could race next week.

''We have the right amount of flexibilities when we know we have to suspend a driver,'' he said. ''And as I said earlier, we have tests all the time where we get positive tests, for one substance or another or prescribed orMayfield over-the-counter and how we handle that is, like I said, with the policy; it has some flexibility to that. We don't just go laying the hammer down and ruining someone's career.  That's not what we are talking about when we are talking about Jeremy's situation. You know what he was tested for. That's unequivocal. There's not confusion about that from a science standpoint. 

''And we will stand by our right to protect all of the drivers, all of the fans, from somebody, and just because they said 'I didn't do it,' or something could have gone wrong with the test, people can say that.  But our test is thorough, the process is complete; and if we can improve it, like we have-we inspect the cars differently than we did last year. We improve all kinds of things from a policy standpoint. We are open to doing that. 

''But if you are asking me, does the policy fit the intended outcomes that we are trying to have, which is to prevent somebody from being on the track impaired, are we doing everything that we can do; that's our responsibility. And you know, I think we are. And if we can do more, we will.''

Hyundai -- France also spoke about the possibility of another manufacturer coming into fold. It's nothing eminent, but something that's out there. How about Hyundai in NASCAR. That would be cool.

''Our policy and our views haven't really changed,'' France said. ''Some of the opportunities for a new manufacturer to come into NASCAR probably have changed. Obviously, there are teams that were getting direct support or were affiliated with one manufacturer or another that are available now.  So that is a fact. 

''We have been talking and we have routinely, because we are open, as we demonstrated with Toyota, which worked well, under the right approach that's unique to NASCAR, for a manufacturer to come in and compete at one of our national divisions. That policy remains open. It is not something that happens easily or overnight.

''These decisions by a potential manufacturer take a lot of time and evaluation on their behalf, because to enter into NASCAR has to be, you know, done in a way that is complementary to what has been established in the past. And those conversations are ongoing. I do not anticipate, there's absolutely nothing imminent that we will be announcing or should be will be joining or any of that, that position. 

''But do I see more interests because there's more opportunity? Sure. We see that and we're fielding the kinds of questions and evaluation that you would think under the circumstances.''

-- Qualifying for tonight's race was halted by rain with three guys left to give 'er a try. That has delayed the Cup qualifying (which should be going on right now) as well...

-- For those Indy fans out there, James Davidson earned his first pole in the IndyLights Series and will lead the field at Watkins Glen this weekend. Sebastian Saavedra qualified second.


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