Lynda Petty, wife of 7-time NASCAR champ Richard, passes away

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Lynda Petty, the wife of seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Richard Petty and mother of a group of four children that includes former Cup driver and current NBCSN contributor Kyle Petty, has passed away at the age of 72.

The ‘First Lady of NASCAR’ was diagnosed with central nervous system lymphoma in 2010 and underwent treatments at Duke University Medical Center.

The Petty family has issued the following statement on the loss of their matriarch:

“We wish to sincerely thank everyone who has supported us and our family throughout the years and at this time. We will forever love and miss a wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend.”

A release that accompanied the statement said that Mrs. Petty passed peacefully at her home in Level Cross, North Carolina, surrounded by the family.

She is proceeded in death by grandson Adam and survived by her husband of 55 years, Richard; her son, Kyle; her daughters Sharon and husband Terry Farlow; Lisa and husband Charlie Luck; Rebecca and husband Brian Moffitt; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

One of her grandchildren, Austin Petty, is the COO of the Pettys’ Victory Junction Camp for seriously ill children. In his own statement, he hailed Mrs. Petty as “the cornerstone” of the family:

“We have lost my grandmother, but my family and our Victory Junction family are grateful to have had her love and wisdom for so many years. It was no secret that she was the cornerstone of the Petty family; a woman of humility and extraordinary strength. While we mourn her death, we also celebrate her life and the profound impact she had on those who knew her. The pride she had in her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren was shared with us through her unconditional love. Her strong example of leadership outside of her home was most recently acknowledged by the Association of Fundraising Professionals when she, along with my grandfather, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy Award for her personal commitment to seriously ill children and to our American troops. We honor my grandmother’s legacy of inspiration and enduring love at Victory Junction today and always.”

Additionally, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France called her “an integral part of the NASCAR landscape” in his thoughts on the loss:

“On behalf of the France Family and everyone at NASCAR, I want to offer sincere condolences to the Petty Family regarding the loss of their beloved matriarch, Lynda Petty. Through the years, Lynda became an integral part of the NASCAR landscape. We have lost a true friend, who will be missed each and every day. Our thoughts and prayers will be with the Pettys throughout this difficult time.”

A private memorial service will be held for family and friends in Randleman, North Carolina. A public memorial will not be held.

In lieu of flowers, fans are asked to donate to:

Petty Family Foundation
311 Branson Mill Road
Randleman, N.C. 27317

What’s next for Danica Patrick after the Indy 500? Dreams, downtime and waffles

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INDIANAPOLIS – When Danica Patrick was a 14-year-old growing up in Roscoe, Illinois, she had a firm idea of what she’d be doing 20 years later.

A reporter from her hometown newspaper recently reminded her of that in a recent interview when he brought a prescient artifact from those teenage years – an essay that she crafted as an up and coming go-kart driver about her racing accomplishments.

“I’m breezing through it, and then at the end, it said, ‘I wanted to race Indy cars,” Patrick, 36, said Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “I was 14. I told him, ‘See? If this isn’t an example of “Write that shit down,” nothing is.’

“This is manifesting. You have write it down and you have to imagine what you want. So I do that as much as I can.”

Heading into the final start of her career in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 (she will start seventh in her No. 13 Dallara-Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing), Patrick already seems to have a solid idea of the next 20 years — in part, because of having some glimpses into her post-racing life.

There has been plenty of downtime since her final NASCAR start in the Daytona 500 three months ago. She has taken vacations (including an India trip to meet the Dalai Lama with boyfriend Aaron Rodgers) and created several new routines on her suddenly free from racing weekends.

“I make waffles on Sundays now,” she said. “That’s pretty fun.  In the summer, there’s like farmers market.  I can’t wait for that.  I mean, there’s going to be probably some new stuff that I don’t know yet.

“The one thing that I am definitely looking forward to less of is less stress.  Last weekend was awesome at the end of it all because it went well with qualifying, but I was nervous for 95% of that weekend. That’s uncomfortable.”

But testing her comfort zone is appealing to Patrick, who has spent most of her adult life testing the boundaries of gender norms in her profession. Though the pressure of race weekends might disappear, her incessant quest for challenges probably will remain.

Now that racing is over, Patrick still has a winery, a clothing line, a cookbook and a fitness manual to promote – and more is on the way.

“I just have a habit for pushing myself to uncomfortable spaces, making them comfortable for me,” she said. “At least just making them comfortable enough to be able to manage.

“As an example, I went bungee jumping a long while back, like 10 years.  I’m super scared of heights.  I’m still scared of heights.  But I just like to know that if I want to do something, I am brave enough and confident enough to do it.  That doesn’t mean I’m not still scared.  That doesn’t mean it’s not still something that’s easy to me afterward. I just like to know I can get past the fear if I have to.

“I’m OK with transitioning into other things, finding a little bit of happiness and joy each day, less colorization of emotions. I’m ready for that.”

So what specifically is on tap? Talk shows? Another book?

Patrick demurs when pressed.

“I think I have definitely big dreams and aspirations for myself, for all my companies, for the kind of emotion I want to have on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “I’m looking forward to a good, easy, happy, calm, joyful, exciting, adventurous life.  If I say I want it, there’s a very good chance that’s what I’ll get.”

In the short-term, there’s hosting an ESPN awards show that will keep her busy through July.

And after that, her schedule will free up just as Green Bay Packers training camp begins for Rodgers, the two-time MVP quarterback.

“I’m thinking I’m going to have plenty of time to write a cookbook in Green Bay,” she said.