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

Castroneves OK after heavy crash in Pocono qualifying (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

Helio Castroneves lost the back end of his No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet rolling into Turn 1 during qualifying for Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN), in a big accident that will hurt his weekend hopes and force the Team Penske crew to make significant repairs.

Castroneves looped around and hit the Turn 1 wall with his nose and left side of the car, with the car then tilting up on its side before coming back down to the ground.

The Brazilian got out of the car under his own power without assistance from the Holmatro Safety Team before heading to the infield medical center. He has been checked, cleared and released.

Castroneves told NBCSN’s Jon Beekhuis: “Good news the hair is still good. Unfortunate for the car. We didn’t have a chance to do qualifying (in practice). I was a bit slow, so the car pushed a bit, it might have been a bit too aggressive. It caught me in Turn 1, and came around, unfortunately spun out on me. Hopefully it’s not a snowball. Now that practice is tonight before the race.”

Castroneves enters Sunday’s race second in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings, seven points behind teammate and points leader Josef Newgarden (423-416).

Porsche: Formula E more than a marketing tool, ‘no passing fad’

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Porsche executive board member Michael Steiner is confident that Formula E will be more than just a “passing fad” or a tool for good marketing as the German marque begins to prepare for its entry to the series in 2019.

Porsche rocked the racing world last month by announcing it would be closing its LMP1 program at the end of this year, shifting its focus to Formula E where it will race from season six onwards.

The move sees Porsche follow in the footsteps of many more manufacturers, with Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes, Renault and BMW among those who will also be racing in season six.

Porsche had previously dismissed Formula E as not being of enough technical interest in its current state, but Steiner is confident of its future direction.

“The series is developing in an interesting direction,” Steiner said. Think, for example, of the rear axle with the electric motor, which manufacturers are able to design themselves within the regulations.

“Or take the inverter and the battery management, where there will also be more freedom. In the relatively short term, it is expected that a better battery will be used in Formula E, which will eliminate vehicle changes during the race.

“There are also planned increases in drive performance. And brake-by-wire is coming, along with other things. We have seen the roadmap on the technical side. The regulations will start to open up and the planned developments are very interesting.”

Steiner said Porsche is expecting Formula E to become a strong technical formula, adding: “We would not make such a wide-ranging strategic change for an event that only had marketing potential.

“If Formula E were just a short-term trend or a passing fad, we would certainly not become involved.”

Leah Pritchett has quickest run in NHRA history at 3.640 seconds

Photo courtesy Don Schumacher Racing
Leave a comment

BRAINERD, Minn. (AP) Leah Pritchett had the quickest run in NHRA history with 3.640-second pass at 330.63 mph Friday night at Brainerd International Speedway in Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals qualifying.

She broke her own Top Fuel record of 3.658 set in Arizona in February.

“We’ve looked forward to this night session for a long time,” Pritchett said. “Knowing that Brainerd, this track, this surface, the conditions and what NHRA is able to do to it, lays down the ground work for us to pull out the most power possible. That’s what this team did. They have been working tirelessly at finding small amounts of power here, there and everywhere and to be able to put it on the track tonight was incredible.”

Robert Hight broke the Funny Car time record with a 3.793 at 338.00 in a Chevrolet Camaro SS, the first run in the 3.7s in Funny Car history. He set the speed record of 339.87 last month at Sonoma Raceway.

“I could tell it was running fast and I saw the 3.79 on the scoreboard,” Hight said. “It’s just something you dream about. There are so many things that have to happen and work together for it all to come together. It’s not that easy. This is a big milestone. To be part of a milestone as a driver, this was big for me.”

Tanner Gray topped the Pro Stock field, and Hector Arana Jr. was the fastest in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Gray had a 6.607 at 208.617 in a Chevrolet Camaro, and Arana had a 6.879 at 194.24 on a Buell.

Back racing after F1 test, Norris dominates Zandvoort F3 opener

LAT
Leave a comment

McLaren younster Lando Norris made an emphatic return to racing action after the summer break by dominating the opening race of the FIA European Formula 3 weekend at Zandvoort, taking his sixth win of the season.

Norris, 17, moved up to F3 for 2017 after winning two Formula Renault titles last year, as well as linking up with McLaren’s junior program.

The Briton impressed during his maiden Formula 1 test in Hungary at the end of last month, and carried the momentum through to Zandvoort by taking pole position for Carlin for the first race of the weekend.

Norris retained his lead at the start and only came under pressure following a safety car period, with Swedish youngster Joel Eriksson running close for the lead.

Norris was able to create a gap and pull away, completing a wire-to-wire win with almost nine seconds in hand over the pack for his sixth win of the season.

The result sees Norris move to within eight points of championship leader Maximillian Günther, the German finishing third on Saturday at Zandvoort.