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Lynda Petty makes progress in cancer battle

Richard Petty says his wife, Lynda, is making progress in her ongoing cancer treatments.

The seven-time NASCAR Cup champion has stepped back from his role as co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports this season as his wife undergoes treatment at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C.

He updated her progress through a news release Tuesday.

"We're having real good news with my wife, Lynda," Petty said. "She had a growth cancer in her head that messed up her central nervous system, but we went back last week and found out they completely eliminated that particular growth. She'll still have to take some treatments from time to time, but at least she has all of her faculties back and we're looking forward to another 50 years with her as far as I'm concerned."

Petty says that there is still treatment to undergo, but that the progress is a positive sign.

He added that this has certainly altered his perspective on racing and life in general.

"That puts everything in perspective," he said. "For 50 years I've been out messing around with a race car, ever since we've been married. I've always told her that racing comes first and if she works real hard, she can be number two. Well, after 50 years and when she got cancer I said, 'Wait a minute, it's time I give her my next 50 years. 'So it's been a deal where I haven't been to a lot of the races so far this year.

"I've had to cut back on a lot of the appearances and different obligations I had, but I felt like she came first. Family comes first and then you work everything around that."

Petty has been paying attention to his team, though, expressing pleasure at AJ Allmendinger putting the No. 43 Petty made famous on the pole at Phoenix and saying that the organization's year has been "up and down."

Still, considering that the team merged with Yates Racing in the offseason and is now running Fords for the first time while it is also dealing with the pending loss of Kasey Kahne, who has announced that he will leave the organization at the end of the season, Petty says that things are coming along for the group.

"From an overall standpoint, though, us moving to Ford and getting lined up with all the Ford people, the engine shop, and chassis deal, I think they've done a remarkable job as far as being able to coordinate with everybody and get the job done," he said. "The cars come out of the shop pretty well ready to race, so it's just a matter of time. They're getting a little bit better. I think every week our cars are a little bit better, and, of course, everybody else is as well. I think we maybe have further to go, but I think we're catching up faster than anybody."

As to Kahne's decision, he simply said that he felt like that had been in Kahne's mind for a while and now the team has the chance to start making plans for the future. He also points out that now the pressure is off, but the group feels it has something to prove.

After all his years in racing, and what he and his wife have endured, Petty prefers to look at this as an opportunity rather than a setback.

"I always look at it from a standpoint that anything that changes gives you a better opportunity," he said. "In other words, if you're after something and you go for it and miss it, it just gives you another opportunity to do something else. That something else might be better than what you were thinking you had in your hand. I'm a very optimistic person."