Greatest NASCAR Rivalries   -  Features

Features

  • Greatest NASCAR Finishes

    1. 2/15/1976 Daytona 500
    The penultimate moment of NASCAR's greatest rivalry. Richard Petty and David Pearson wreck each other coming off of the final turn of the final lap. Both come to rest in the infield grass only a few yards shy of the finish line. While Petty struggles to re-fire his stalled machine, Pearson rolls by in his mutilated Mercury and crosses the finish line at about 25 mph.

    2. 2/18/1979 Daytona 500
    The first live flag-to-flag TV coverage of the Daytona 500 culminates in an unforgettable finish. Running 1-2, Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison wreck each other on the last lap, handing Richard Petty his sixth Daytona 500 win. As Petty crosses the finish line, CBS cameras catch Yarborough and the Allison brothers fighting in the infield grass between turns three and four.

    3. 7/4/1984 Firecracker 400 -- Daytona
    Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough cross the finish line door to door in the front of Ronald Reagan, the first sitting U.S. President to attend a NASCAR event. Petty wins by inches, earning his 200th and final victory.

    4. 2/23/1986 Miller 400 -- Richmond
    With three laps to go on the bullring short track, Darrell Waltrip makes his move to pass Dale Earnhardt for the lead. The two tangle and hit hard into the turn three guardrail. The wreck also collects Geoff Bodine and Joe Ruttman who were running third and fourth. Fifth place Kyle Petty emerges from the smoke to earn his first career win.

    5. 3/18/2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 -- Darlington
    Kurt Busch and Ricky Craven put on the greatest last lap show in NASCAR history, pounding on each other relentlessly for 1.4 miles. The two cross the finish line leaning on each other and spin as they finish. Craven wins by .002 seconds, the closest margin in the history of the sport.

    6. 11/15/1992 Hooters 500 -- Atlanta
    The final race of the 1992 season -- Richard Petty's final race and Jeff Gordon's first. Davey Allison enters as the points leader, closely followed by Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwicki. Allison wrecks early, leaving Kulwicki and Elliott to duel. Elliott wins the race, but Kulwicki leads one more lap, giving him five bonus points and the 1992 championship by 10 points -- the closest margin in NASCAR history.

    7. 5/16/1992 Winston All-Star Race -- Charlotte
    "One Hot Night" is the first All-Star event held under the lights. Kyle Petty roughhouses his way to the front, racing to the back bumper of Davey Allison on the final lap and spinning Allison across the finish line. Allison wins but has to be cut from the car and airlifted to the hospital.

    8. 3/11/2001 Cracker Barrel 500 -- Atlanta
    Kevin Harvick beats Jeff Gordon by .006 seconds, ending a race that featured 25 lead changes among 11 drivers. It is Harvick's first win in just his third career start and the first win for the GM Goodwrench car since Dale Earnhardt's death at Daytona three weeks earlier.

    9. 8/28/1999 Goody's 500 -- Bristol
    Dale Earnhardt spins Labonte again, but this time it is one lap earlier and Labonte doesn't recover for the win. Earnhardt wins and celebrated amid both cheers and boos. The Intimidator had returned.

    10. 8/31/1997 Southern 500 -- Darlington
    Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton bang their way around the track for two laps until Gordon wins by inches to clinch the second-ever Winston Million dollar bonus.

Features

  • 20 Questions With Richard Petty
    NASCAR legend Richard Petty answers questions from his fans.

    What was the best car you ever drove in competition?

    Probably the '74 Charger. We ran it for like four or five years and really got a good handle on it because we had the same car year in and year out. And it was a very effective car on short tracks and big tracks and road courses. It was just a good overall car.

    What organizations do you help? How can I get involved?

    Well, really the biggest thing we got going right now is the Victory Junction Gang Camp -- VictoryJunction.org on the computer deal. If anybody wants to help us out with that deal or find out what's going on with that deal, you know, just jump on there and help us.

    If you were given the opportunity to control NASCAR, what would be the first change you'd make?

    So that Petty Enterprises would win all the races! They do a pretty good job overall. We get a little disturbed from time to time. You'd have to look at everything before you made any changes at all because one change may change something else.

    Are there any more goals that you would like to achieve in either racing or life in general?

    My philosophy on all that is just do better today than I done yesterday.

    I am one of the kids from the first week of the Victory Junction Gang camp. I first want to say thank you so much to your whole family for doing the camp. You all are so wonderful, and it is a GREAT way to remember Adam. I had a wonderful time there!! My question is when you're at the camp we see you smiling so big all the time, and I am wondering if being there makes you feel like when you were in your car during a race?

    That's a good question. It just makes me proud of what I've done because I was able to help the kids. And racing put me in that position. I'm glad this kid had a good time. I hope all the rest of 'em have a good time, too.

    What inspired you to be a racecar driver, and would you have chosen any other career if racing didn't work out for you?

    My father was in racing, and I grew up in and around racing and didn't know anything else. So like a farmer's son becoming a farmer, I was a racecar driver's son, and I became a racecar driver. Never looked at anything, any other profession.

    When you first retired from driving we watched you at NHIS [New Hampshire International Speedway], standing on a ladder, not letting your team car out of your sight for one second. Is it easier now delegating driver and team responsibilities? And when you do get the urge for speed, do you run any laps at your driving schools or other tracks?

    On the last question -- I have not been in a racecar at speed after I retired. So I just, cold turkey, I walked away from it. And, let's see ...Well, I always compare my drivers and my teams to what I would have done and how I would have done it. It gets kinda frustrating from time to time.

    What was the scariest moment in racing you've ever experienced?

    Probably ... the '88 wreck I had at Daytona ... coming off a corner and hitting the outside wall and rolling around. That was probably the scariest moment.

    I've been a NASCAR fan for 20 years and have always rooted for you, Kyle and dear, sweet Adam. Watching Kyle in the interviews he's given, I think he is most happy when he talks about the business side of racing and the causes he is involved in. His eyes just seem to really light up when he talks about those things. Do you think his heart is really more in the business part of Petty Enterprise and the Victory Junction Gang?

    Probably, half and half. He knows he's gotta do the Petty Enterprises part in order to carry on what he wants to do with Victory Junction.

    Out of all the NASCAR drivers you raced against, who did you like to race against the most?

    Probably David Pearson. Me and him probably ran together more races than anybody else I run with, and we never had but a couple run-ins. So he was probably the best on that.

    What was your best memory of the Intimidator [Dale Earnhardt] ?

    Man, I gotta bunch of them. You know, I had a lot of run-ins with him, but you know they worked out. Probably the biggest thing in him -- I remember him winning Daytona and how excited he was because he tried so many times. I think that was the optimum deal in his career, and I was with him on that.

    What was your most terrifying wreck?

    Probably ones that people didn't think was as bad as what they really were. It's really hard to say. I've broke my neck a couple times, broke everything else I guess in my body. So I don't know if there is one more terrible than any of the rest of 'em. All of 'em is bad, all of 'em is terrible.

    I have heard you say that years ago, you had to pull Dale Earnhart to the side and have a talk with him about his rough driving. I think you said one of those times was because of the time he and yourself were involved in a wreck in turn one at Martinsville, Va. How did that conversation go? What did you say? What did Earnhart say?

    Man, that's been a long time ago. You know I just told him he's gonna have to learn to be more patient with his driving deal. At that time, he was just starting. I know he paid attention to me. Maybe it didn't look like it on the race track when he drove, but I think he kinda respected me for what I was saying.

    My dad has been a fan of Richard Petty since the very beginning of his career. All through my childhood, I heard all of Richard Petty's accomplishments on the track. My dad can tell me exactly where he was and what activity he was doing at the time of Richard Petty's achievements. What is your most memorable accomplishment on the racetrack? Thank you from the daughter of your biggest fan from Wisconsin.

    Probably the highlight of my whole career was probably winning the 200th race at Daytona on July the 4th [1984] in front of the president of the United States and winning it on the last green flag lap. That was probably it.

    NASCAR has changed so much since you've retired. What do you see as the best change and the worst?

    Well ... man, that's tough. The best change, probably just looking at it from the overall deal, is probably not racing back to the flag on a caution flag. That's probably good. It's hard to say what the worst is. I'm not a big believer in the lucky dog thing, which gives everybody back, gives first man down a lap back. I'm not big on that.

    Where do you see Petty Enterprises five, 10, even 20 years from now, and would you ever expand into other racing areas such as Indy cars?

    I don't think we'd ever expand our deal because we started with NASCAR, and I think that's where we want to be at. The next five, 10, 20 years -- it's sorta going to be up to Kyle according to what he wants to do with Petty Enterprises.

    I am a Randolph County [North Carolina] native also, so in regards to that and knowing you didn't have any type of alcohol sponsors on your car, how do you feel about the issue of passing the liquor by the drink in our area?

    Political question right? Well, if you gonna have liquor all around ya, then I feel that the county and the city should be able to get the tax off it and make it work from there.

    What was the inspiration for your signature cowboy hat?

    Long answer. The basic deal was that Kyle used to have what he called the Kyle Petty Boot Barn, and they sold hats and cowboy boots. I'd already been into the boot business, and so he convinced me to try a cowboy hat. That worked out real good because I could wear the cowboy hat, and you know everybody's got sponsor hats, and you always wound up having the wrong sponsor hat on when you were talking to somebody. So the cowboy hat solved that problem.

    A Sports Illustrated reporter once wrote that, on the super speedways, you would "come down off the rail grinning like the hound of hell, and grown men would suddenly cringe." Did you ever deliberately set up your car just a little loose, on those tracks like Talladega, Daytona, and even Darlington, knowing that you had better reflexes, to make 'em pee in their pants and gain a competitive edge?

    I always chose the car where it would handle the best for me. It just seemed like that as I was able to catch people, if I had a groove different than them, then I could pass them a lot easier than I could follow 'em.

    I proudly received your autograph many, many years ago. Did you develop your very unique autograph just for signing for race fans, or did you always sign it that way? It surely is one of the most unique autographs in sports today.

    When I got out of high school, I took a business course, and the first thing it taught you ... was how to write legible where you could read it and then the autograph just developed from there.

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