Kyle Petty takes off on 20th Charity Ride Across America

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If you live between Carlsbad, Calif., and Daytona Beach and see a large group of motorcycles coming up in your rearview mirror some time in the next eight days, it’s likely the guy on the lead bike will be NASCAR analyst Kyle Petty.

Petty and about 175 others kicked off the 20th annual Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America on Saturday in Carlsbad. The 2,800-mile trek – the longest in the ride’s history – will continue through May 10 and end in the infield of Daytona International Speedway.

“What began as just a few friends having a good time riding track to track has turned into what we have today, which is an incredible event that provides thousands of life changing experiences for children,” Petty said in a media release. “This is the first year we’ve traveled straight from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, and I’m looking forward to experiencing it with friends, while meeting our fans and generous supporters along the way.”

The Ride is designed to raise funds and awareness for Victory Junction, a camp Petty and wife Patti established for kids with chronic or life threatening illnesses more than 10 years ago after the tragic death of son Adam Petty in a practice crash at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“It’s amazing to see how one tragedy can turn into something so incredible like Victory Junction,” NASCAR Hall of Famer and Kyle’s father, Richard, said.

The King will take part in one of the segments of the Ride, along with current NASCAR star Matt Kenseth, former NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine, NASCAR legends Harry Gant and Donnie Allison and former NFL great Herschel Walker.

“After five years, it’s great to be back on the Kyle Petty Charity Ride to support Kyle and the Camp – just in time for the 20th Anniversary,” Richard Petty said.

Here’s the schedule for the 2014 Kyle Petty Charity Ride:

• Day 1 Saturday, May 3 – Carlsbad, Calif. to Tucson, Ariz.

• Day 2 Sunday, May 4 – Tucson, Ariz. to Las Cruces, N.M.

• Day 3 Monday, May 5 – Las Cruces, N.M. to Midland, Texas

• Day 4 Tuesday, May 6 – Midland, Texas to Austin, Texas

• Day 5 Wednesday, May 7 – Austin, Texas to Beaumont, Texas

• Day 6 Thursday, May 8 – Beaumont, Texas to New Orleans

• Day 7 Friday, May 9 – New Orleans to Tallahassee, Fla.

• Day 8 Saturday, May 10 – Tallahassee, Fla. to Daytona Beach, Fla.

During its first 19 years, more than 7,330 riders have taken part in the Ride, logging over 10.7 million cumulative motorcycle miles and donated $15 million to Victory Junction Camp and other children’s charities.

To follow Petty and the riders live, visit facebook.com/KPCharityRide, on Twitter at @kpcharityride or @kylepetty. You can also donate on the Ride’s web site, www.kylepettycharityride.com.

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Danica says goodbye: ‘Definitely not a great ending’ but ‘I’m for sure grateful’

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INDIANAPOLIS – Danica Patrick’s final racing news conference didn’t but at least she didn’t lose her sense of humor about it.

“Is that like the Oscars when they close the show out?” Patrick joked when her opening address was drowned out by the midrace broadcast of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 in the media center. “Take my mic away. I’ll leave. I promise. I don’t really want to be here because I’m pretty sad, but all right. I guess I’ll stop there.”

That was about as lighthearted as it got, though, for the most accomplished female driver in racing history after the final start of her career. That naturally made for some reflection, too.

“I will say that I’m for sure very grateful for everybody,” she said. “It still was a lot of great moments this month. A lot of great moments this year.”

Patrick was the first woman to lead both the Indianapolis 500 (in her 2005 debut) and the Daytona 500 (in 2013 when she also was the first female to qualify on pole position in NACAR history).

But she couldn’t bookend that with similarly memorable finishes. After crashing out of her final two Cup races in the November 2017 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the 2018 Daytona 500, Indy concluded the same way.

“Definitely not a great ending,” she said. “But I kind of said before I came here that it could be a complete disaster, as in not in the ballpark at all. And look silly, then people may remember that. And if I win, people will remember that.

“Probably anything in between might just be a little part of the big story. So I kind of feel like that’s how it is. I’m appreciative for all the fans, for GoDaddy, for Ed Carpenter Racing, for IndyCar. Today was a tough day. A little bit of it was OK. A lot of it was just a typical drive.”

Beforehand, Patrick seemed relaxed while smiling and laughing outside her car with a tight circle of close friends and family that included her parents and boyfriend Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback.

“For sure, I was definitely nervous,” she said about her first Indy 500 start in seven years. “I found myself most of the time on the grid being confused what part of prerace we were in. I was like, ‘I remember this,’ and ‘Where are the Taps?’ and ‘When is the anthem?’ but I had all my people around me, so I was in good spirits.”

And with that, she bid adieu.

“Thank you guys,” she said. “Thank you for everything. I’ll miss you. Most of the time. Maybe you’ll miss me just a little. Thanks, guys.”