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'The King' looks to make his return at Richmond

April 23, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com

Petty has been away from tracks following his wife's death

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team co-owner Richard Petty is expected to return to the track this weekend when the series moves to Richmond International Raceway for Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400.

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Petty, a seven-time Cup champion and the series' win leader with 200 career victories, has been absent from the race track since the passing of his wife, Lynda, last month.

"I've spent quite a bit of time with him over the last few weeks," Aric Almirola, driver of the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Ford, said Tuesday. "It's going to be great to have our leader back at the track. He's the name and the face of our company.

"All the guys on the race team, myself included, look up to him and enjoy having him at the race track, having him inside the hauler, talking to us after practice, getting his perspective on what he sees with other race cars and with our race cars throughout practice and stuff like that.

"He comes to about 95 percent of the races every year. Taking (those) weeks off … I know he's itching to get back. … I spent all day with him yesterday in Nashville. He's looking forward to coming back … in Richmond. He's our leader; he's the guy we all look up to."

Although he did not attend races at Martinsville, Texas and Darlington, Petty has kept close tabs on the organization, which also fields the No. 9 Ford for driver Marcos Ambrose.

"You can't take the racer out of that guy," Almirola said of Petty. "He's not going to sit home and do nothing. He's been watching (the races on TV). … He's still heavily involved, that's for sure. He knows everything that's been going on, he knows what we've been struggling with, what we’ve been good at."

Trent Owens, Petty's nephew and crew chief for Almirola, said being back at the track "is going to be good for our race team and good for him, good medicine."

"When something like that happens, you just want to hide, get your feelings straight," Owens added. "He's been by the shop, been in good spirits. I think he's doing very well, considering. 

"We're looking forward to getting him back to the track and back into race mode."

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