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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Richard Petty is scheduled to return to the race track this weekend for the first time since the March 25 death of his wife, Lynda.

The seven-time NASCAR champion and Hall of Fame driver missed races at Martinsville, Texas and Darlington as he mourned the loss of his wife. The Pettys were together 57 years.

Trent Owens, crew chief for Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola and Petty's nephew, believes being back at the track in Richmond, Va., will be good for "The King."

"I think it will be good medicine," Owens said Wednesday. "When something like that happens, you kind of want to hide for a little bit and just get your feelings straight. But he's been by the shop and been in good spirits, and I think he's doing very well considering.

"We look forward to definitely getting him back to the race track and getting him back into race mode."

Almirola spent Tuesday with Petty at an appearance in Nashville, Tenn., and found his boss' spirits to be improved. Like Owens, the driver thinks Petty's return will be a boost to the organization.

"It's going to be great to have our leader back at the race track. He is the name and the face of our company, and all the guys on the race team and myself included look up to him and enjoy having him around at the race track and having him inside hauler and talking to us after practice and getting his perspective on what he sees with other race cars and with our race cars throughout practice," Almirola said.

"I know he's itching to get back. ... You can't take the racer out of that guy. He's not going to sit at home and just sit around and do nothing."

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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