Inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class inductee and all-time Sprint Cup Series victories leader Richard Petty visited with 350 Kentucky Speedway season ticket customers as part of a special "Tireside Chat" held at Belterra Casino Resort and Spa.

NASCAR's King and long-time Performance Racing Network (PRN) announcer Doug Rice regaled the audience with stories of Petty's distinguished career and provided perspective on the state of NASCAR racing before fielding season ticket customer questions.

Petty, who will field Sprint Cup Series entries for drivers Aric Almirola and Marcos Ambrose this season from the Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) stable, said Kentucky Speedway events play an important role in growing NASCAR racing for sponsors.

"What's neat about coming to Kentucky is the Sprint Cup Series is in new territory. Instead of making the fans come to us, we come to them. Kentucky opens this whole section of the country not only to fans we already had, but to new fans. That's what it takes to make the sport grow.

"It's new territory for sponsors to come in and gain new customers, keep customers or satisfy customers. Sponsorship makes NASCAR run. If the fans don't buy the sponsor's product, we don't have a racecar.

"It goes hand and in hand. When we lead a sponsor to new markets, they're that much more on board," Petty said.

Customers who purchased or renewed five-race Kentucky Speedway season ticket plans on or before January 18 were automatically eligible to receive a limited number of invitations for two to the "Tireside Chat." The evening also included a dinner and presentation by Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger.

Season ticket plans for the five NASCAR race Kentucky Speedway season can be reserved by visiting the the Tickets page of this Web site or at 859-578-2300.

Kentucky Speedway's season opens with a tripleheader weekend featuring the June 30 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series "Quaker State 400," the June 29 NASCAR Nationwide Series "Feed The Children 300" and June 28 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series "UNOH 225."

Racing returns with a doubleheader weekend spotlighting 300 miles of NASCAR Nationwide Series action Sept. 22 and a 201-mile NASCAR Camping World Truck Series dust-up on Sept. 21.

Story by Mike Schmaltz

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