Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is the top racing series of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. Since 2017, it has been named for its sponsor, Monster Energy, but has been known by other names in the past; the series began in 1949 as the Strictly Stock Division, from 1950 to 1970 it was known as the Grand National Division. In 1971, when the series began leasing its naming rights to the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, it was referred to as the Winston Cup Series. A similar deal was made with Nextel in 2003, it became the Nextel Cup Series. Sprint acquired Nextel in 2005, in 2008 the series was renamed the Sprint Cup Series, which lasted until 2016. In December 2016, it was announced that Monster Energy would become the new title sponsor starting in 2017; the championship is determined by a points system, with points being awarded according to finish placement and number of laps led. The season is divided into two segments. After the first 26 races, 16 drivers, selected on the basis of wins during the first 26 races, are seeded based on their total number of wins.
They compete in the last ten races, where the difference in points is minimized. This is called the NASCAR playoffs; the series holds strong roots in the Southeastern United States, with half of the races in the 36-race season being held in that region. The current schedule includes tracks from around the United States. Regular season races were held in Canada, exhibition races were held in Japan and Australia; the Daytona 500, the most prestigious race, had a television audience of about 9.17 million U. S. viewers in 2019. Cup Series cars are unique in automobile racing; the engines are powerful enough to reach speeds of over 200 mph, but their weight coupled with a simple aerodynamic package make for poor handling. The bodies and chassis of the cars are regulated to ensure parity, electronics are traditionally spartan in nature. In 1949, NASCAR introduced the Strictly Stock division, after sanctioning Modified and Roadster division races in 1948. Eight races were run on the Daytona Beach beach/street course.
The first NASCAR "Strictly Stock" race was held at Charlotte Speedway on June 19, 1949. Jim Roper was declared the winner of that race after Glenn Dunaway was disqualified for having altered the rear springs on his car; the division was renamed "Grand National" for the 1950 season, reflecting NASCAR's intent to make the sport more professional and prestigious. It retained this name until 1971; the 1949 Strictly Stock season is regarded in NASCAR's record books as the first season of GN/Cup history. Martinsville Speedway is the only track on the 1949 schedule. Rather than having a fixed schedule of one race per weekend with most entrants appearing at every event, the Grand National schedule has included over sixty events in some years. There are two or three races on the same weekend and two races on the same day in different states. In the early years, most Grand National races were held on dirt-surfaced short oval tracks that ranged in lap length from under a quarter-mile to over a half-mile, or on dirt fairgrounds ovals ranging from a half-mile to a mile in lap length.
One hundred ninety-eight of the first 221 Grand National races were run on dirt tracks. Darlington Raceway, opened in 1950, was the first paved track on the circuit over one mile long. In 1959, when Daytona International Speedway was opened, the schedule still had more races on dirt racetracks than on paved ones. In the 1960s as superspeedways were built and old dirt tracks were paved, the number of races run on dirt tracks was reduced; the last NASCAR race on a dirt track was held on September 30, 1970 at the half-mile State Fairgrounds Speedway in Raleigh, North Carolina. Richard Petty won that race in a Plymouth, sold by Petty Enterprises to Don Robertson and rented back by Petty Enterprises for the race. Between 1971 and 2003, NASCAR's premier series was called the Winston Cup Series, it was sponsored by R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company cigarette brand Winston. In 1971, the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act banned television advertising of cigarettes; as a result, tobacco companies began to sponsor sporting events as a way to spend their excess advertising dollars and to circumvent the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act's ban on television advertising.
RJR's sponsorship became more controversial in the wake of the 1998 Tobacco Industry Settlement that restricted avenues for tobacco advertising, including sports sponsorships. The changes that resulted from RJR's involvement in the series as well as from the reduction in schedule from 48 to 31 races per year established 1972 as the beginning of NASCAR's "modern era"; the season was made shorter, the points system was modified several times during the next four years. Races on dirt tracks and on oval tracks shorter than 250 miles were removed from the schedule, transferred to the short-lived NASCAR Grand National East Series. NASCAR's founder, Bill France Sr. turned over control of NASCAR to Bill France Jr.. In August 1974, France Jr. asked series publicist Bob Latford to design a points system with equal points being awarded for all races regardless of length or prize money. This system ensured that the top drivers would have to compete in all the races in order to become the series champion.
This system remained unchanged from 1975 until the Chase for the Championship was instituted in 2004. Since 1982, the Daytona 500 has been the first non-exhib
Petty Enterprises was a NASCAR racing team based in Level Cross, North Carolina, USA. It was founded by Lee Petty with his two sons Maurice Petty; the team was owned by Richard Petty, his son Kyle Petty and Boston Ventures. At the time of its folding the team operated the No. 43 and No. 45 Dodge Chargers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Petty Enterprises ran from 1949 until 2008; the team closed shop in January 2009 and merged with Gillett Evernham Motorsports after sponsorship could not be found for any of the cars in the Petty stable. The facilities in Randleman, vacated by the race team is still owned by the Petty family and is now a small business called The Petty Garage and specializes in custom cars, vintage restorations, other specialty automotive work; the last few years has seen it host. Founded as Lee Petty Engineering, Lee Petty brought Petty Enterprises their first starts, the first of these at Occoneechee Speedway, where Petty finished ninth; the team's first win came that year in Lee's fifth start at Heidelberg Raceway, with Petty and the team finishing 2nd in points that season.
Petty won one race in each of the years 1950 and 1951, before collecting three victories in 1952. Lee grabbed five wins in 1953 and finished second in points before winning the championship in 1954, he followed that with six wins the next season and two more the following year, making him one of the most dominating drivers in the series at that time. In 1957, Petty won 4 races. Petty would accumulate a total of fifty-four careers wins, one of them being the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959, three national championships, but during the 100 Mile Qualifying Races for the 1961 Daytona 500, Petty was involved in a horrific crash with Johnny Beauchamp, this would hospitalize both drivers, Petty would only make a handful of starts between 1962 and 1965. Lee's sons and Maurice Petty would make a few starts in their father's cars in the early part of their careers. Several other drivers raced a handful of times in the No. 42, including Marvin Panch, Paul Lewis, Tiny Lund, G. C. Spencer, Dan Gurney. 1979 saw Richard's son, Kyle Petty, start his career winning the first race he entered - the Arca 200 at Daytona International Speedway, Petty drove five cup races for PE in 1979.
In 1983 the No. 42 became the No. 7 for 1984–1985, Petty Enterprises concentrated on Kyle Petty's No. 7 7-Eleven-sponsored entry. Kyle earned no wins during that stretch. Petty left to drive for the Wood Brothers in 1986. Believed to be one of the most recognizable numbers in motorsports, the No. 43 team debuted in 1954, when Lee Petty expanded to a two car team and put Bob Welborn in the driver's seat. Welborn competed in two races that season; the #43 would not return with Petty Enterprises until 1957, this time with Bill Lutz behind the wheel. Lutz drove his Oldsmobile to a 6th place finish at Daytona Beach; the 43 car would once again take a break from competition. Until 1959, when Lee placed his son Richard in the car. Richard made ten starts in 1959, accumulating five top tens, four top fives. Making him the 1959 Rookie of the Year. Petty returned in 1960, making forty starts, with three wins, sixteen top fives, thirty top tens, he finished second in NASCAR Grand National Series points, scoring his first career win at Charlotte Fairgrounds Speedway.
Petty scored ten wins throughout 1961 and 1962, finishing eighth and second in championship standings. Although he had tremendous success early in his career, his true breakout year was 1963. In'63, Petty scored fourteen wins, thirty top fives, thirty-nine top tens, eight poles. However, he still fell short of the championship. 1964 saw Richard win his first Grand National title, first Daytona 500. Joining in the Chrysler boycott of NASCAR due to the ban of the Hemi engine, Petty spent most of 1965 drag racing, only made fourteen out of fifty-five races on the circuit. In 1966, Petty returned to NASCAR. Winning yet another Daytona 500, finishing third in points. 1967 was a monumental year for Richard. He compiled twenty-seven wins out of forty-eight starts, including a record ten wins in a row. One of these victories was the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway; this would be his only win in the Southern 500. His dominance in this season dubbed him the nickname of, "King Richard." He had been known as the "Randleman Rocket."
He scored his second Grand National Series championship during that season. Petty continued this success in 1968. In 1969, Petty switched brands to Ford, as Richard believed his Plymouth wasn't as competitive on superspeedways, he requested to run a Dodge Daytona. He would take home ten race wins, finish second in points. In 1970 Plymouth developed their own version of the Plymouth Superbird, it had the features Richard wanted, he switched back to Plymouth for the 1970 season. 1971 was a year of "threes" for Petty, he won his third Daytona 500 and third championship, edging over Virginia driver, James Hylton. Richard would win twenty-one races that year, making him the first stock car racing driver in history to win over $1,000,000. At the end of the 1971 season, Chrysler announced. In 1972, STP began a long successful sponsorship arrangement with the team. However, it put an end to the years of famous all
Dale Inman is a retired NASCAR Grand National/Winston Cup crew chief from Level Cross, Randolph County, North Carolina. He is best known for being the crew chief of Richard Petty at Petty Enterprises during three decades, they won seven championships together. Inman spent most of his career working for Petty Enterprises, he was the crew chief for Terry Labonte's 1984 championship. NASCAR.com contributor Rick Houston said that if the best crew chief was "settled on statistics and statistics alone, Dale Inman is the greatest crew chief of all time." He is credited for starting the main duties of the position including preparation, driver-pit communication. Inman has the most victories as a NASCAR crew chief for Richard Petty. Inman grew up playing with his cousins Maurice Petty; the Petty brothers were the son of Lee Petty, who finished in the Top 5 points in NASCAR's stock car division every year from its formation in 1949 until 1959 and won the 1954, 1958, 1959 championships. The teenage boys would work on Lee's car after school and on weekends.
Richard started racing in the late 1950s with Maurice and Inman as part of his pit crew, as they were too young to be his crew chief. In 1960, Petty won his first NASCAR race. By this time Maurice and Inman had become NASCAR mechanics. Maurice had been the crew chief at the races. Petty Enterprises had him start concentrating on engine building for the team, Inman became the crew chief at the races. Petty described him as the sport's first official crew chief. In 1967, Petty won a NASCAR-record ten straight races and 27 races during that season with Inman as his crew chief. All 27 victories were in the same car that they built in 1966, he departed the team days after winning the 1981 Daytona 500. While being interviewed after winning the race, he told CBS reporter Ned Jarrett that he would soon be leaving the team. Inman had been crew chief for 192 of Petty's 193 victories, he was hired by Rod Osterlund to be the crew chief for 1980 champion Dale Earnhardt. That June, Osterlund sold the team to J. D.
Stacy and Earnhardt quit Stacy's team in August. He stayed with the team and was the crew chief for Joe Rutman & Tim Richmond, until he was hired by Billy Hagan to join Terry Labonte's team, they won the 1984 championship. He returned to Petty Enterprises in 1986 to oversee the business side. In an interview, he said, "this is where I belong. Damn, I am happy." He continued in his role helping Richard Petty until Petty retired in 1992. After his retirement, Inman helped Petty Enterprises drivers Rick Wilson, John Andretti, Bobby Hamilton. Inman retired from NASCAR in 1998, he continued as a consultant for Petty Enterprises for a while afterward. Away from racing, Inman has helped the Victory Junction Gang Camp get started. In 2008, he helped unveil the first artifact at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Plymouth Belvedere that Petty drove to 27 wins in 1967. In 2006, a national motorsports media group poll named Ray Evernham as the top NASCAR crew chief of all-time and Inman placed a close second though he had more first place votes than Evernham.
When asked Inman said, "I'm not sure I should be ranked. I think I was second, I'm honored at that." He said that the best crew chief that he saw was Leonard Wood from the Wood Brothers and Waddell Wilson was good. His contributions to racing led to him receiving the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame's first Golden Wrench award on May 25, 2000. In 2008, he was received the Smokey Yunick Award. On June 14, 2011, he was selected to the 2012 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame; as of 2000, Inman was married to his wife Mary for over 40 years. They had children Tina Dale Hussey and Jeffrey Inman, four grandchildren and Logan Hussey, Peyton and Addison Inman. Dale Inman crew chief statistics at Racing-Reference
Jeffery Michael Gordon is an American former professional stock car racing driver an announcer for Fox NASCAR, a top executive for Hendrick Motorsports. He drove the No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports in 23 full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series seasons between 1993 and 2015, served as a substitute driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in select races during the 2016 season. Gordon started his professional racing career in the Busch Series with Hugh Connerty Racing, followed by Bill Davis Racing, winning three races, began racing full-time in the Cup Series for Hendrick Motorsports in 1993, he is a four-time Sprint Cup champion, having won the title in 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001. He won the Daytona 500 three times in 1997, 1999, 2005, he is third on the all-time Cup wins list with 93 career wins, the most in NASCAR's modern era. Gordon's 81 pole positions is third all-time, he was the active "iron man" leader for consecutive races participated in with 797 through the 2015 season.
In 1998, NASCAR named Gordon to its 50 Greatest Drivers list. In 2008, ten years ESPN's Terry Blount ranked him 10th in the 25 Greatest Drivers of All-Time. Foxsports.com named him as the fifth best NASCAR driver of all time. Gordon, along with Rick Hendrick, co-owns the No. 48 Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson, who won seven Cup championships from 2006 to 2010, 2013, in 2016. Gordon has an equity stake in the No. 24 team. Gordon owned a Busch Series team between 1999 and 2000, Gordon/Evernham Motorsports, winning twice. Gordon was born in Vallejo and raised in Pittsboro and considers Sonoma Raceway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway as his "home" tracks, he lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife, Ingrid Vandebosch and their two children Ella Sofia and Leo Benjamin. Gordon is of Scotch-Irish descent, he was born in Vallejo, California, to parents Carol Ann Bickford and William Grinnell Gordon, of Vacaville, California. Gordon's mother and biological father divorced, his stepfather, John Bickford, married his mother in the 1970s.
He has a sister, older by four years. His younger cousin, James Bickford competes in the K&N Pro Series West. Gordon attended Tri-West Hendricks High School in Lizton and was on the school's cross country team; when he was four years old, Gordon rode a BMX bike that his stepfather bought for him and began racing quarter midgets at the age of five. The Roy Hayer Memorial Race Track in Rio Linda, California is noted as the first track Gordon competed on. By the age of six Gordon had set five track records. In 1979 Gordon won 51 quarter midget races; when he was 11, Gordon won all 25 of the karting races he entered. At age 12, Gordon became bored with cars and decided to start a career in waterskiing before switching back to driving one year later. In 1986, Gordon began winning three races; the next year, Gordon was awarded a USAC license at the youngest driver to do so. During the 1980s, Gordon and his family had to overcome an insurance hurdle; the minimum age for driving the sprint cars was 16, his persistence paid off with an all Florida speed weeks.
Supporting his career choice, Gordon's family moved from Vallejo to Pittsboro, where there were more opportunities for younger racers. Before the age of 18, Gordon had won three short-track races and was awarded USAC Midget Car Racing Rookie of the Year in 1989; that season was highlighted by winning Night Before the 500 midget car race on the day before the Indianapolis 500. During the decade, Gordon ran sprint cars in Australia and New Zealand. In 1990, Gordon won his second consecutive Night Before the 500, the Hut Hundred, the Belleville Midget Nationals on his way to winning the USAC national Midget title. In 1991, Gordon captured the USAC Silver Crown, at the age of 20 became the youngest driver to win the season championship, he won the 4 Crown Nationals midget car race that season. In his midget car career between 1989 and 1992, he finished in the Top 3 in 22 of 40 USAC midget car events. In 1992, Gordon competed in the Slim Jim All Pro Series' Winchester 400, but finished 24th after crashing on lap 172.
The following year, he ran a Featherlite Southwest Tour race at Sears Point Raceway, finishing 29th after suffering an engine failure. In the early 1990s, Gordon expressed interest in IndyCar racing, but was not able to find a ride due to low funding. However, former Formula One driver Jackie Stewart offered Gordon a test drive in Europe, in what Gordon assumed was Formula Three or Formula 3000. In 1990 Gordon met Hugh Connerty, who owned some Hooters restaurants and was a partner in Outback Steakhouse. Connerty secured some sponsorship for a car through Outback, they tested for the last few Busch Grand National races left in 1990. Ray Evernham was called in to work with Gordon in his stock car debut, his first Busch race came on October 20, 1990 at North Carolina Motor Speedway in the AC-Delco 200. Gordon drove. Gordon ran the second fastest lap during qualifying and started on the outside of the front row of the field. Gordon would however, get involved in a wreck on lap 33, he ended up with a 39th-place finish.
In 1991 and 1992, Gordon began racing in the Busch Series full-time, driving Ford Thunderbirds for Bill Davis Racing
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is an American auto racing sanctioning and operating company, best known for stock-car racing. Its three largest or National series are the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the Xfinity Series, the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Regional series include the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, the Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Pinty's Series, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series. NASCAR sanctions over 1,500 races at over 100 tracks in 48 US states as well as in Canada and Europe. NASCAR has presented races at the Suzuka and Motegi circuits in Japan, the Calder Park Thunderdome in Australia. NASCAR ventures into eSports via the PEAK Antifreeze NASCAR iRacing Series and a sanctioned ladder system on that title; the owned company was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1948, Jim France has been CEO since August 6, 2018. The company's headquarters is in Florida. Internationally, its races are broadcast on television in over 150 countries. In the 1920s and 30s, Daytona Beach became known as the place to set world land speed records, supplanting France and Belgium as the preferred location for land speed records, with 8 consecutive world records set between 1927 and 1935.
After a historic race between Ransom Olds and Alexander Winton in 1903, the beach became a mecca for racing enthusiasts and 15 records were set on what became the Daytona Beach Road Course between 1905 and 1935. By the time the Bonneville Salt Flats became the premier location for pursuit of land speed records, Daytona Beach had become synonymous with fast cars in 1936. Drivers raced on a 4.1-mile course, consisting of a 1.5–2.0-mile stretch of beach as one straightaway, a narrow blacktop beachfront highway, State Road A1A, as the other. The two straights were connected by two tight rutted and sand covered turns at each end. Stock car racing in the United States has its origins in bootlegging during Prohibition, when drivers ran bootleg whiskey made in the Appalachian region of the United States. Bootleggers needed to distribute their illicit products, they used small, fast vehicles to better evade the police. Many of the drivers would modify their cars for speed and handling, as well as increased cargo capacity, some of them came to love the fast-paced driving down twisty mountain roads.
The repeal of Prohibition in 1933 dried up some of their business, but by Southerners had developed a taste for moonshine, a number of the drivers continued "runnin' shine", this time evading the "revenuers" who were attempting to tax their operations. The cars continued to improve, by the late 1940s, races featuring these cars were being run for pride and profit; these races were popular entertainment in the rural Southern United States, they are most associated with the Wilkes County region of North Carolina. Most races in those days were of modified cars. Street vehicles were lightened and reinforced. Mechanic William France Sr. moved to Daytona Beach, from Washington, D. C. in 1935 to escape the Great Depression. He was familiar with the history of the area from the land speed record attempts. France entered the 1936 Daytona event, he took over running the course in 1938. He promoted a few races before World War II. France had the notion. Drivers were victimized by unscrupulous promoters who would leave events with all the money before drivers were paid.
In 1947, he decided this racing would not grow without a formal sanctioning organization, standardized rules, regular schedule, an organized championship. On December 14, 1947, France began talks with other influential racers and promoters at the Ebony Bar at the Streamline Hotel at Daytona Beach, that ended with the formation of NASCAR on February 21, 1948; the first Commissioner of NASCAR was Erwin "Cannonball" Baker. A former stock car and open-wheel racer who competed in the Indianapolis 500 and set over one hundred land speed records. Baker earned most of his fame for his transcontinental speed runs and would prove a car's worth by driving it from New York to Los Angeles. After his death, the famous transcontinental race the'Cannonball Run' and the film, inspired by it were both named in his honor. Baker is enshrined in the Automotive Hall of Fame, the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame; this level of honor and success in each diverse racing association earned Baker the title of "King of the Road".
In the early 1950s, the United States Navy stationed Bill France Jr. at the Moffett Federal Airfield in northern California. His father asked him to look up Bob Barkhimer in California. Barkhimer was a star of midget car racing from the World War II era, ran about 22 different speedways as the head of the California Stock Car Racing Association. Young Bill developed a relationship with his partner, Margo Burke, he went to events with them, stayed weekends with them and became familiar with racing on the west coast. "Barky", as he was called by his friends, met with Bill France Sr.. In the spring of 1954, NASCAR became a stock car sanctioning body on the Pacific Coast under Barky. Wendell Scott was the first African-American to win a race in the Grand National Series, NASCAR's highest level, he was posthumously inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N. C. January 30, 2015. On March 8, 1936, a collection of drivers gathered at Florida; the drivers brought coupes, hardtops and sports cars to compete in an event to determine the fastest cars, best dr
Steve Letarte is a newscaster and a former NASCAR crew chief. Born in Cornish, Maine, he is employed at NBC Sports as a color analyst on their telecasts for NASCAR, he left Hendrick Motorsports following the 2014 season after 20 years with the team. From September 2005 to November 2010, he was the pit crew chief for Jeff Gordon, taking over the No. 24 Chevrolet from Robbie Loomis. From February 2011 to November 2014 he was Jr.'s crew chief. Letarte began working for Hendrick Motorsports part-time in 1995. In 1996, at the age of 16, he joined the group full-time. From 1997 to 1999, he worked as a tire specialist for Jeff Gordon's #24 team, he became a mechanic and car chief in 2002. Letarte was promoted from car chief to crew chief after Gordon missed the 2005 Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, he was promoted after 26 of the 36 races in the 2005 season. In Letarte's sixth race as crew chief with Gordon, he visited victory lane for the first time in October 2005, winning the Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway, in Martinsville, Virginia.
Gordon improved with three top-five finishes in the last five races of the 2005 season. Entering the 2006 season, Hendrick Motorsports made wholesale changes to the #24 team. Gordon fought major handling issues at all of the intermediate racetracks, which relegated Gordon to run outside the top-ten and outside the top-fifteen. Gordon finished outside the top-ten at California, Texas and Pocono – all of which were down-force tracks; when the series reached the 2-mile racetrack of Michigan International Speedway, near Brooklyn, Michigan, in mid-June, Gordon experienced a huge turnaround at a track that he had struggled at in previous season. Gordon finished eighth in a rain-shortened event. For the first time since 2004, the #24 Chevrolet made the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup. Gordon experienced an up-and-down postseason in 2006, they finished in the top five in both of the first two races, but posted 39th- and 36th-place finishes in the next two events, due to a failed fuel pump in Kansas Speedway and a crash at Talladega Superspeedway.
Gordon experienced an engine failure with 33 laps to go at Charlotte which relegated the #24 to a 24th-place finish. Letarte and his team rebounded with finishes of: 5th at Martinsville, 6th at Atlanta, 9th at Texas, 4th at Phoenix and a 24th-place finish at the season finale at Homestead, ended the season 6th in the final points standings. In 2007, Gordon finished the year with 6 wins, Gordon's highest total since 2001, a series-leading 21 top-5s, the most scored in a season since 1999; the #24 team finished with 30 top-10s, setting a new NASCAR modern era record for most top 10s in a single season. They dominated the points standings throughout much of the year, earning, in total, 353 more points than Jimmie Johnson's #48 team, 706 more points than Tony Stewart's #20 team. However, due to the Chase playoff system, Gordon lost the championship to Jimmie Johnson, their performance in the Chase was exceptionally good however, winning two races and scoring an average finish of 5.1, but it was not enough to outperform Johnson, who racked up more wins and better average finishes than Gordon.
2008 would be a brutal reminder of. Astonishingly, Gordon went winless for the first time since his rookie year in 1993; the team posted a respectable 19 top-10s and 13 top-5s en route to a 7th-place finish in the season's final standings, but it was a disappointing follow-up to the 2007 season. Despite being the target of blame from many critics for the team's failures, Jeff Gordon and Rick Hendrick stood by the longtime Hendrick Motorsports employee and Letarte returned at the helm for 2009. Gordon snapped his career-high 47-race winless streak with a victory in the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5, 2009, but alas, it would be Gordon's only win of the 2009 season. The team had a strong year however, finishing 3rd in the final standings and leading the series with both 16 top-5s and 25 top 10s; as an organization, Hendrick Motorsports finished an impressive 1–2–3 in the standings as Gordon finished third, Mark Martin finished second and Jimmie Johnson won his record-setting fourth-straight championship.
For the 2011 season, the crew chiefs of all of the Hendrick teams except for Chad Knaus were switched around. In the switch, Letarte was reassigned to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. while Earnhardt's former crew chief Lance McGrew was reassigned to Mark Martin and Martin's former crew chief Alan Gustafson was reassigned to Gordon. The pairing of Letarte and Earnhardt, Jr. showed strong results early in the 2011 season. On April 3, 2011, Earnhardt, Jr. held the lead late in the race at Martinsville Speedway, but was passed with less than 5 laps to go by Kevin Harvick who would drive on to victory. During the Coca-Cola 600, Earnhardt, Jr. held the lead on the final lap, but was forced to surrender the lead to Harvick when he ran out of fuel. In the next race at Kansas Speedway, Letarte had called Earnhardt to pit road thinking that no drivers would be able to make it to the end on fuel. For Letarte and Earnhardt, Jr. Brad Keselowski was able to make it to the checkered flag and relegated the #88 to a 2nd-place finish.
Letarte led Earnhardt, Jr. back into the Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship for the first time since the 2008 season. Despite failing to win a race during the course of the season, Earnhardt, Jr. scored 4 top five finishes and 12 top ten finishes. The #88 car finished the season in the 7th place in
Richard Lee Petty, nicknamed The King, is a former NASCAR driver who raced from 1958 to 1992 in the former NASCAR Grand National and Winston Cup Series. He was the first driver to win the NASCAR Cup Championship a record, seven times, winning a record 200 races during his career, winning the Daytona 500 a record seven times, winning a record 27 races in the 1967 season alone. Statistically, he is the most accomplished driver in the history of the sport and is one of the most respected figures in motorsports as a whole, he collected a record number of poles and over 700 Top 10 finishes in his record 1,184 starts, including 513 consecutive starts from 1971–1989. Petty was the only driver to win in his 500th race start, until Matt Kenseth joined him in 2013, he was inducted into the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010. Petty still is active day to day, as a NASCAR team owner in the Cup Series and owner of Petty's Garage in Level Cross, NC. Petty is a second generation driver, his father, Lee Petty, won the first Daytona 500 in 1959 and was a three-time NASCAR champion.
His son Kyle was a NASCAR driver. His grandson, was killed in a practice crash at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on May 12, 2000, five weeks after Lee's death. Adam's brother Austin works on day-to-day operations of the Victory Junction Gang Camp, a Hole in the Wall Gang Camp established by the Pettys after Adam's death. Petty married Lynda Owens in 1958, she died on March 25, 2014 at her home in Level Cross, North Carolina at age 72, after a long battle with cancer. They had four children—Kyle Petty, Sharon Petty-Farlow, Lisa Petty-Luck, Rebecca Petty-Moffit; the family resides in Petty's home town of Level Cross, North Carolina and operates Richard Petty Motorsports. The Richard Petty Museum was in nearby Randleman, North Carolina but moved back to its original location in March 2014. Petty was born in Level Cross, North Carolina, the son of Elizabeth and Lee Arnold Petty a NASCAR driver, the older brother of NASCAR personality Maurice Petty, he began his NASCAR career on July 1958, 16 days after his 21st birthday.
His first race was held at CNE Stadium in Toronto, Canada. In 1959, he was named NASCAR Rookie of the Year, after he produced 9 top 10 finishes, including six Top 5 finishes. In Lakewood, Georgia in 1959, Petty won his first race, but his father Lee protested, complaining of a scoring error on the officials' part. Hours Lee was awarded the win. In 1960, he finished 2nd in the NASCAR Grand National Points Race, got his first career win at the Charlotte Fairgrounds Speedway. 1963 was his breakout year, winning at tracks like Bridgehampton. In 1964, driving a potent Plymouth with a new Hemi engine, Petty led 184 of the 200 laps to capture his first Daytona 500, en route to 9 victories, earning over $114,000 and his first Grand National championship. Joining in the Chrysler boycott of NASCAR due to the organizing body's ban of the Hemi engine, Petty spent much of 1965 competing as a drag racer. Petty Enterprises installed the Hemi in the new compact Barracuda and lettered "OUTLAWED" on the door, he crashed this car at Southeastern Dragway, in Dallas, Georgia, on February 28, 1965, killing a six-year-old boy and injuring seven others.
Petty, his father Lee, Chrysler Corporation faced lawsuits totaling more than $1 million, though Petty and his team came to settlements with the lawsuits within 1 month of the suits being filed. Afterwards, a second Hemi Barracuda was built, this time with an altered wheelbase and with Hilborn fuel injection; this car was lettered with a large "43 JR" on the door. The car was successful, winning its class at the Bristol Spring Nationals and competing in many match races against well known racers such as Ronnie Sox, Don Nicholson, Phil Bonner, Huston Platt, Hubert Platt and Dave Strickler. After returning to NASCAR once the Hemi was reinstated, Richard continued drag racing the 43 JR until early 1966. On February 27, 1966, Richard Petty overcame a 2-lap deficit to win his second Daytona 500 when the race was stopped on lap 198 of 200 because of a thunderstorm; this made him the first driver to win the event twice. 1967 was a milestone year. In that year, Petty won 27 of the 48 races, including a record 10 wins in a row.
He won his second Grand National Championship. One of the 27 victories was the Southern 500 at Darlington, which would be his only Southern 500 victory, his dominance in this season earned him the nickname "King Richard". He had been known as "the Randleman Rocket". In 1969, Petty switched brands to Ford, due to his belief the Plymouth was not competitive on super-speedways, he would finish second in points. Won back in 1970 by the sleek new Plymouth Superbird with shark nose and towel rack wing, Petty returned to Plymouth for the 1970 season; this is the car in which Petty is cast in the Pixar film Cars, in which Richard and Lynda Petty had voice roles. On February 14, 1971, Petty won his third Daytona 500, driving a brand-new Plymouth Road Runner and beating Buddy Baker, by little more than a car length en route to another historic year, making him the first driver to win the race 3 times, he won 20 more races and claimed