NASCAR Legends: Richard Petty

NASCAR Legends: Richard Petty

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  1. He’s known as “The King,” and with good reason: Richard Petty set NASCAR records that may be some of the most unbeatable records in auto racing. His 200 wins, which included seven Daytona 500 victories, were earned on his way to seven Cup Series championships.

    Petty was raised in Level Cross, North Carolina, the son of Lee Petty, the winner of the first Daytona 500 and a three-time NASCAR champ himself. Petty followed in his father’s footsteps, entering his first NASCAR race 16 days after his 21st birthday in 1958. He won his first Cup Series (then Grand National) title in 1964, winning nine times; his second title came in 1967, the season that earned him the moniker “The King” – he won 27 of the 48 races he entered, including ten in a row.

    Petty won his other five titles in 1971, 1972 (the first Winston Cup Series title), 1974, 1975, and 1979. Along the way, in addition to his 200 wins, he earned a record 127 pole positions and 712 top tens in 1,185 starts. His last race was the history-making 1992 Hooters 500 at Atlanta (GA) Motor Speedway – not only did Petty retire, but 21-year-old Jeff Gordon made his first start, and underdog Alan Kulwicki won the championship by ten points over veteran driver Bill Elliott.

    Petty was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in its first class in 2010; his father will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011. Petty’s son, Kyle, was also a NASCAR driver, and Kyle’s son Adam was on his way to his own NASCAR career when he was killed in a practice accident in 2000, five weeks after his grandfather Lee’s death. Petty is part of the ownership group for Richard Petty Motorsports for the 2011 season.

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