The King's Ascension Was Quick, And His Reign Was Lengthy Print Page Email (Note: This is the fourth weekly release on the five inaugural inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, in Charlotte, N.C. The induction ceremony is scheduled for May 23.
The King's Ascension Was Quick, And His Reign Was Lengthy Print Page Email
(Note: This is the fourth weekly release on the five inaugural inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, in Charlotte, N.C. The induction ceremony is scheduled for May 23. Bill France Sr., Bill France Sr., Junior Johnson, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt are the inductees. This installment spotlights seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Richard Petty.)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 6, 2010) -- When it comes to assessing the career of Richard Petty, the proof is in the records. Petty holds so many, it still boggles the mind of many a fan, after all these years.
Granted, during much of the time when Petty competed, circumstances conspired to facilitate his dominance. There used to be far more races in a season ... and far less drivers capable of winning regularly. Those disclaimers aside, "The King" earned his crown in every way imaginable. Consider his all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup marks:
* Seven championships (tie with Dale Earnhardt)
* 200 victories
* 123 poles
* Seven Daytona 500 victories
* 10 consecutive victories
* 555 top-five finishes
* 712 top 10s
* 1,185 starts
* 27 victories in one season, 1967
All of that happened during a career that spanned from 1958-92 and followed examples of excellence set by none other than Petty's father, Lee. The father won three series championships himself in 1954, '58 and '59 -- plus, triumphed in the inaugural Daytona 500 in '59.
The son, rookie of the year in '59, won his first championship in his sixth full-time season, 1964. But prior to that he already had quickly established himself as a champion-in-waiting. After capturing the top rookie honors he went on to finishing as series runner-up in 1960, '62 and '63.
Petty got his first win on Feb. 28, 1960 at the old Southern States Fairgrounds half-mile dirt track in Charlotte. He got his last win on July 4, 1984, in the Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway's 2.5-mile high banks, with then-President Ronald Reagan in attendance.
In between, he became arguably the greatest driver in NASCAR history. Also, he became inarguably NASCAR's greatest ambassador, as legendary for signing autographs as he was for winning races. Always decked out in his signature cowboy hat and sunglasses, Richard Petty has never met a fan he didn't like -- and the feeling has been mutual, with each and every signature or greeting.
Still on the scene as the leader of Richard Petty Motorsports at the age of 72, the former champion now belongs to the fans more than ever -- thanks to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
"It feels good," Petty said of his induction. "I felt like this was a race ... you feel good finishing in the front five."