Andy Petree (born
August 15, 1958in Hickory, North Carolina), is a long-time fixture in NASCAR. After racing for years at local short track(most notably Hickory Motor Speedway), Andy became part owner of the #32 Busch Seriescar for Dale Jarrett. By the age of 28, Andy was already a NASCAR Winston Cup crew chiefon the Leo Jackson racing team. That car was driven by the Bandit Harry Gant. Petree is a color commentator on ESPN/ ESPN on ABCNASCAR races.
Afterwards, Andy was hired by
Richard Childress Racing, ending up as car chief for the #3 Goodwrench Chevydriven by Dale Earnhardt. In 1993, Andy and Dale teamed up for Dale's 6th championship. The next year, Andy helped Dale win his 7th and final championship. However, Andy wanted to have his life calm down a little and on October 1, 1996, Andy went back to Leo Jackson and bought his #33 team.
Andy took over the #33
Skoal BanditChevy as owner for the full 1997 season. That year, driver Ken Schraderdrove the car to 2 top-5s and 8 top-10s in route to 10th place in the NASCAR Winston Cup final standings. Ken also won 2 poles in the season. It marked a strong comeback for the #33 team, which had struggled severely in 1996, as Robert Pressleyonly earned one top-10.
In 1998, Ken received 3 top-5s and 11 top-10s. However, Ken fell two positions down the points ladder to 12th. Despite not receiving a visit to the New York awards ceremony, Andy was ambitious. At Daytona in October, Andy fielded a second car, the #55
Oakwood Homes Chevy, driven by Hut Stricklin. At the end of 1998, it was announced that Kenny Wallacewould join APR (Andy Petree Racing) in the #55 Square D Chevy for 1999.
1999 was a learning year for APR. The struggles of adding a second car may have shown. Ken Schrader struggled with only 6 top-10s, in route to a 15th place in points. Wallace was more flashy but also inconsistent. He earned his career best finish of 2nd at New Hampshire International Speedway, and had 4 other top-10s, but Kenny would finish 22nd in points.
Schrader's 1999 season compelled him to leave APR. However, Andy was quick in signing
Joe Nemechekand sponsor Oakwood Homes, after Skoal announced it would not be on the #33 for the first time in 21 years. The 2000 season was complete opposite for Petree's drivers. Nemechek was solid as he won 1 pole, and secured 3 top-5s and 9 top-10s. That enabled him to finish 15th in points. Kenny, on the other hand had one top-5: 2nd at Talladega Superspeedway. It was a memorable one though. Wallace stayed behind Dale Earnhardt in a two-lap dash and his help allowed Earnhardt to win his 76th and final NASCAR race. Wallace admitted later that he would have pulled out had he realized that Nemechek was behind him (Nemechek would finish 3rd). Nemechek had been running a Charlie Danielspaint scheme and Wallace did not recognize it. Despite getting as close as anyone to Petree's first victory, Wallace left for Eel River Racing.
Still searching for victory in 2001, Petree kept Nemechek in the #33 and hired
Bobby Hamiltonto drive the #55. A 3rd team with Geoffrey Bodinedriving made one start in 2000, but the deal fell through. It would turn out to be Petree's best season yet. The 9th race of the year, at Talladega Superspeedway, featured an amazing battle. After multiple lead changes, Hamilton took the lead as he took the white flag and held off Tony Stewart to win Petree's first career race. Hamilton would earn 6 more top-10s and 18th in the final 2001 rundown. For Nemechek, the season was mixed. While practicing at Dover Downs, Nemechek slammed the wall, and injured his leg. Luckily, Hamilton's son, Bobby Hamilton Jr. was more than willing to join his father. Hamilton Jr. ran 3 races, Wally Dallenbach Jr.ran at Pocono, and Scott Pruetttook over at Sears Point. (now Infineon) When Nemechek came back, his season was not the best and before October was over he announced his plans to leave. But Nemechek had one more trick up the sleeve. Nemechek pulled a dominating victory at North Carolina Speedway, giving APR its 2nd win from its 2nd team. However, with Nemechek gone and Oakwood leaving the #33 began to fold.
For 2002, Petree still wished to run the #33 along with Hamilton. Mike Wallace would drive the car for 4 races. However, with a best finish of 21st (
Daytona 500) and its most memorable moment being at Talladega, (starting the big wreck) the #33 team's glory days were over. It would be up to Hamilton and the #55 team. However, just as the #33 quit for good, Hamilton was injured. Greg Biffleand Ron Hornadaytook over. Hamilton came back and promptly announced he was leaving to his truck team.
Andy Petree was backed in a corner. By February 2003, his Cup team was done. With no sponsor to be found,
Christian Fittipaldi's run in the #33 MonacoChevy in the Daytona 500 looked to be APR's last swan song.
However, Petree wasn't quite done. His longtime friend,
John Menardconvinced him to look at John's son, Paul Menard. Andy was quite impressed by Paul. He signed him to a contract quickly. Paul made his debut in the #55 Menards Chevy at Nashville Superspeedway, Andy's first career Busch race as an owner. It was a productive race, as Paul finished 12th. After finishing 14th at the next race at Kentucky Speedway, Andy allowed Paul to make his Cup debut at Watkins Glen International(after Paul had DNQd at Infineon). That race at the Glen would be Petree's last Cup race. The next week, Paul grabbed his first top-10 at IRP. Andy, who had made some Craftsman Truck Series starts, decided to put Paul in some Truck races. Menard drove the #33 Menards truck in 5 races and finished with one top-10, an 8th place at Kansas.
Petree signed Menard to a full
Busch Seriesschedule for 2004, hoping to get Menard ready for a return to NEXTEL Cup in 2006. However, Menard had other plans. Halfway through the year, Menard signed with Dale Earnhardt, Inc., leaving Petree without at driver and a sponsor. His last Busch race would be at Chicago, where driver Clint Bowyerfinished.
Petree's race team was dead in the water. After
Michael Waltripfinished last at a Craftsman Truck race at IRP, Petree sold his equipment and his shop. He went to work for Michael Waltrip, as a consultant for Waltrip's Busch team.
Unbeknownst to most, Petree has had some experience and some luck driving.
In 1988, Petree joined the G & G Racing team for 4 races. He finished 36th, 17th, 22nd and 30th, with the best finish at
Martinsville Speedway. Martinsville was also his best qualifying effort of the season. There he started 18th.
While working for
Dale Earnhardt, Earnhardt allowed Petree to drive his Busch car at Martinsville (1994). After starting 27th, Petree bettered his career best with a 16th. It would be his final BUSCH series start.
NEXTEL Cupteam was falling apart, Petree tried to get some momentum going in the Craftsman Truck Series. Petree made his debut in that series at Martinsville in 2002. Despite an impressive 3rd place qualifying effort, Petree crashed and finished in 31st. However, the race at IRP later that year was better. He finished 12th.
In 2003, Petree made 4 Truck starts and finished in the top-20 in each. He was 14th at Mesa Marin, 10th at Martinsville (career best), 20th at IRP, and 18th at the second Martinsville race.
Petree final start of his NASCAR career came at his best track: Martinsville in 2004. He started that race 9th and finished a respectable 18th.
Seven months later, his team was sold and Andy's career as a car owner and a car driver was finished.
On October 12, 2006, Petree was officially named as part of the ESPN/ABC NASCAR broadcast team for their upcoming contract coverage. Petree joins
Rusty Wallaceand Jerry Punchin the broadcast booth, with Jamie Little, Mike Massaro, Dave Burns, and Allen Bestwickreporting from pit road.
Andy Petree Racing
* [http://www.nascar.com/2004/news/features/conversation/01/23/apetree_convo/ Andy Petree NASCAR.com Bio]
* [http://www.racing-reference.info/driver?id=petrean01 Career Stats]
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