Happy 77th birthday to Richard Petty, The King of NASCAR

3 Comments

It was 77 years ago today — July 2, 1937 — that a baby was brought into this world in Level Cross, North Carolina.

Mom Elizabeth and father Lee were proud of their first born, who would be joined a few years later by younger brother Maurice.

Together, the brothers would go on to follow in father Lee’s footsteps and form the most successful race team in NASCAR history.

And young Richard would go on to become the winningest driver in NASCAR history, earning 200 victories, a mark that will likely never be reached again (next closest is fellow Hall of Famer David Pearson, with 105 wins) – and which included a record seven wins in the sport’s biggest race, the Daytona 500.

It’s no wonder he earned the nickname of “The King.”

Happy 77th birthday, Richard Lee Petty!

Petty also went on to win to become the first driver to earn seven NASCAR Cup championships, later to be joined by the late Dale Earnhardt. Both men were charter inductees in the first class to enter the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010.

This is a very special weekend for Petty in more ways than just his special birthday.

Friday marks the 30th anniversary of his 200th and last career Cup win in the 1984 Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway, a race that was attended by then-President Ronald Reagan, who personally congratulated Petty after the race, which Petty considers one of the high marks of his lengthy and star-studded career.

And two weeks from now – on July 18 – Petty will celebrate the 56th anniversary of his first official race, held at CNE Stadium in Toronto, Canada.

He’d go on to win NASCAR Rookie of the Year in 1959, the same year that father Lee went on to win the first race ever held at Daytona International Speedway and what would go on to become the biggest event in the sport’s history, the Daytona 500.

Sadly, Richard will celebrate his 77th without his lifelong love, Lynda, who died earlier this year on March 25 at the age of 72 from a long illness. The couple had been married for 55 years.

Let’s all wish The King a happy 77th — for NASCAR wouldn’t have become what it is today without the pride and joy of Level Cross.

Check out the videos below of Petty’s final win as well as a great and touching montage of his illustrious career.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

F1 Mexican Grand Prix on NBC, NBCSN, App this week

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton is poised to wrap his fourth Formula 1 World Championship early at this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, as NBC Sports covers the 18th of 20 rounds this season from the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

Expanded TV coverage comes this weekend on NBC, NBCSN and the NBC Sports App.

All sessions will air live. Both Friday practice sessions are live on NBCSN at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. ET. Saturday third practice airs live via the NBC Sports App at 11 a.m. ET with a practice replay show at 12:30 p.m. before live qualifying at 2 p.m. ET, those two on NBCSN.

On Sunday, race day, F1 Countdown starts at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC leading to lights out and the race at 3 p.m. ET. Post-race coverage continues on NBC for one hour, from 5 to 6 p.m. ET.

Mercedes AMG Petronas has won both Mexican Grands Prix since the race was reinstated in 2015 after a 23-year hiatus. Nico Rosberg won in 2015 a race after Hamilton had clinched that year’s title, while Hamilton won last year in a 1-2 with Rosberg continuing to close on his first title.

Controversy reined about third place in Mexico last year with all of Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and ultimately Daniel Ricciardo ending in third, Ricciardo getting the podium after post-race penalties were assessed to the other two. Valtteri Bottas is the other active podium finisher in Mexico, having come third in 2015 with Williams.

Vettel enters Mexico 66 points behind Hamilton and can only keep the title alive to Brazil if he gets the gap under 50 points; any top-five finish for Hamilton will ensure the Englishman equals Vettel on four titles. So if Vettel doesn’t finish first or second, he can’t score enough points (either 25 or 18) to get that gap under 50 markers.

Last year’s race featured a bit of a “Noah’s Ark” finishing order with just the top five teams in the championship scoring points at this race, almost in descending order of just two-by-two. It was two Mercedes, then two Red Bulls, then two Ferraris, then Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India before the two Williams, and finally hometown hero Sergio Perez in the second Force India.

Perez is the lone home favorite this race with Esteban Gutierrez not on the grid this season.

Here’s the F1 schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:

  • Practice 1: Friday, Oct. 27, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 2: Friday, Oct. 27, 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, Oct. 28, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Practice 3 (Replay): Saturday, Oct. 28, 12:30 p.m.-2 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, Oct. 28, 2 p.m.-3:45 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, Oct. 29, 2:30 p.m.-3 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Race: Sunday, Oct. 29, 3 p.m.-5 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, Oct. 29, 5 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Race (Replay): Sunday, Oct. 29, 8:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

The next race is the Brazilian Grand Prix, on November 12.