Yes, there was lots of talk this week among the NASCAR faithful about royalty in victory lane as the King, Richard Petty, chalked up his first win in 10 long years.

Petty's driver, former local sprint car favorite, Kasey Kahne, shook up the Chase standings and surprised many with his first victory on a road course in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series at Infineon Raceway.

Ironically, the sponsor of Kahne's winning No. 9 Dodge is Budweiser, and for years, Petty refused to run any alcohol advertising on any of his cars. But with the merger this year of Petty Enterprises and Gillett Evernham Motorsports, Petty had to compromise.

Petty demanded that Budweiser logos not be on the 43 or 44 to uphold a family tradition of not being associated with alcohol-related sponsors, saying "My mother would come back and haunt us home," if Budweiser showed up on either car.

The win also highlighted a celebration planned to mark the 25th anniversary of Petty's 200th NASCAR Sprint Cup victory, which was in the 1984 Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway. The series returns to Daytona next week.

This week, however, NASCAR Sprint Cup racing heads north to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where what is called the "Race to the Chase" -- the 10-race stretch that precedes the "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup" -- kicks off.
The mix of tracks in the Race to the Chase presents a worthy challenge.


Drivers begin with New Hampshire's flat, tricky one-mile oval and proceed, in order, to Daytona International Speedway's high-banked 2.5-mile surface, Chicagoland Speedway's 1.5-mile tri-oval, Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 2.5-mile tradition, Pocono Raceway's triangular 2.5-mile layout, the season's second road-course event at Watkins Glen International, Michigan International Speedway's 2-mile oval, Bristol Motor Speedway's high-banked half-mile, Atlanta Motor Speedway's 1.5-mile tri-oval and finally, Richmond's .75-mile venue.

Kahne has never won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but someone who has is Tony Stewart. Yes, that's the same Tony
Stewart who finished second, right behind Kahne, last week on the road course. And it's the same Tony Stewart who leads the series standings.

Stewart remains on a roll after notching his first points win as owner/driver of Stewart-Haas Racing two weeks ago at Pocono.

With New Hampshire, Daytona, and Indianapolis coming up, the rest of the field should be warned: Stewart has won two NASCAR Sprint Cup races at each of those three tracks, and he won't be easily stopped.

Last year's winner at New Hampshire was Kurt Busch, thanks to good fuel mileage and a timely final pit stop.

Busch had surged to the lead when NASCAR officials called the race at Lap 284 of the scheduled 300 because of an approaching thunderstorm.

Hopefully we'll have an exciting race, great weather, and a great finish Sunday.

Ellen Siska writes about NASCAR for The York Dis patch. She can be reached at esiska@yorkdis