Richard Petty sparkles in Hollywood while receiving prestigious award
LOS ANGELES -- The bright orange hues of the setting sun lingered over the California coastline last Thursday evening, casting an appropriate illumination on the Hollywood hilltops in the distance and onto one of Los Angeles’ most distinctive treasures in the forefront, the Petersen Automotive Museum. Sitting on famous Wilshire Boulevard, the building's modern chrome-look design is head turning even in a city known for high profile. And inside it is one of the most impressive automotive collections in the world -- the Louvre for car lovers. On this night at this appropriate location, NASCAR’s "King" Richard Petty was honored with the Robert E. Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to auto racing and for raising the profile of the American automobile. Equally important, it was a wonderful chance to celebrate Petty's upcoming 80th birthday on July 2 with a large cake and an eager banquet room of singers. The evening's host and museum’s founding chairman Bruce Meyer welcomed the large crowd, revealing with a smile, "It's the first time having a King here." Almost 300 people were on hand to honor Petty, and there was no mistaking the eclectic attendance -- NASCAR's most treasured, old-school hero being feted by Southern California's coolest and hippest car lovers. Good vibes, as they say out here. "Richard Petty's an icon in our sport, the Frances, the people that built the sport," said retired racer Donnie Allison, an invited guest of Petty's for the evening. "Richard Petty is without a doubt the most noted name in all of racing. It doesn't make a difference who you know or who you talk to. "Bobby (Allison) and I were on an airplane coming out here and sitting next to a guy who asked us what we did. I said that we raced and he said, I don't know anything about racing but I know who Richard Petty is. "What does that say?" Before the formal sit-down dinner, seven-time NASCAR champion Petty joined four-time champ Jeff Gordon to film an interview for FOX Sports. With the famous "Hollywood" sign landmark in the distance, Petty smiled at Gordon and they discussed his family's "redneck engineering." "There was no book, everything was new," Petty told Gordon. "We were so dedicated to working on those cars, we didn't know if it was night or day." Dressed in a black suit and wearing one of his trademark black, feathered cowboy hats and black boots, Petty settled in for the casual time with Gordon and they talked about everything from receiving this unique honor to Petty's favorite winning hardware. "I've got them everywhere," 15-time Martinsville winner Petty said, smiling about the track's famous grandfather clock trophy. With seven NASCAR titles and 200 wins, Petty could not be more revered, and seeing him celebrated in this unique setting seemed not only genuinely appreciated by him, but also a true gift to the crowd. "I'm pretty sure he's signed more autographs than any person in the history of the world," road racing champion Tommy Kendall said, smiling. "Seriously, he's been famous for a long, long time." "It's easy to think of 200 wins and say he was good , but you have to think about that. Everyone had the same limitations and the same challenges of knowledge and understanding and the Pettys somehow raised the bar. "And he raised it in other areas, too, in terms of fan engagement and even something as simple as why his autograph is so legible. It's probably not an accident. People spend their time and money to see him and he wants to give them something." On this night, Petty gave plenty -- his time, his smile, his approval and his sincere gratitude. "I'm just getting old," Petty joked before the program began. "But," he added of the recognition, "Petersen has been in publishing of all kinds of racing magazines. Being they cover all types of racing, to be selected in something like this is really a big thing. I guess it winds up showing we had a lot of good people working for us to be able to put us in this position. It wasn't a one-man show. "What can you do by yourself? "I've accomplished nothing by myself. With the crowd around me we've accomplished a lot. I just happen to be the guy out front. I'm not pulling them, they are pushing me." Always one to share credit and appreciate competition, Petty invited some of his closest friends and even some of his former fiercest competitors to join him this evening. NASCAR executives such as Vice Chairman Mike Helton, Executive Vice President & Chief Global Sales & Marketing Officer Steve Phelps and Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jill Gregory were there to support and enjoy. Fellow NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Rusty Wallace were there, too, along with the great Donnie Allison, NASCAR team owner Rob Kauffman, Kendall and Petty's son Kyle, who played guitar on stage to end the evening. The musical finale came after the tributes, however. And there were -- appropriately -- hours' worth of those. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and his sister, International Speedway Corporation's CEO Lesa France Kennedy, joined a lineup that included Roger Penske, Mario Andretti, Darryl Gywnn and others who sent video messages of accolade and homage. Newly inducted fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer, team owner Rick Hendrick, fondly recalled in his message that Petty's famous signature was "the first autograph I ever got." Former United States Presidents George H. Bush and George W. Bush sent letters to be read on stage. The elder Bush wrote to Petty, "You are a legend. What may not be as well-known is your life's mission to help. ... You are an inspiration about what is best about our great country." Henry Ford, the great, great, great-grandson of Ford Motor Company's founder, delivered a tribute in person as did other major corporate executives. Petty finally took the stage briefly to acknowledge the kindness and many honors, and as you might expect, humbly and briefly reminded everyone, "It's a tribute to not only Richard Petty, but to our sport." At the live auction after dinner, Petty not surprisingly offered a big assist. Two people were in a lively bidding war for one of Petty's famous cowboy hats. When you're the King, your hat is a crown. And after the bidding concluded, Petty took off the very hat he was wearing, walked to the stage and told the audience he would give it to the other bidder -- in effect doubling the money raised for the Petty Family Foundation and Petersen Automotive Museum. And making two grown men very happy. The spontaneous gesture was an apt display of both the high regard Petty has earned and his unending willingness to give back to his many fans. Hats off to the King, indeed.
Larson breaks runner-up streak with win at Auto Club
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Detailed breakdown MORE: Buy Larson gear FONTANA, Calif. -- What a difference one position makes. After three straight second-place finishes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, polesitter Kyle Larson finally found Victory Lane, pulling away after an overtime restart to win Sunday's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway. Larson took the checkered flag at the end of the second extra lap as team owner Chip Ganassi celebrated from his perch atop the pit box. "It's great to be Kyle Larson right now," said the 24-year-old driver. Resilient Brad Keselowski, whose spin on Lap 3 caused the first caution of the afternoon -- and damaged his No. 2 Team Penske Ford -- rolled home in second place, .779 seconds behind the driver variously known as "Young Money" and "The California Kid." Larson, who led a race-high 110 laps, kept his cool through four cautions and subsequent restarts over the final 21 laps, giving up the lead to pit for fresh tires on Lap 193 of a planned 200 , as Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Jamie McMurray stayed on the track. RELATED: Stages 1,2 results from Auto Club But Larson quickly surged back to the front after a Lap 196 restart, passing Hamlin for the top spot through Turn 2 a lap later and holding it through the overtime. "I was staying as calm as I could be, but also frustrated at the same time," Larson said of the late-race stops and starts. "It seems like every time I get to the lead at the end of one of these things, the caution comes out and I've got to fight people off on restarts. Our Target Chevy was amazing all day. We were able to lead a lot of laps today. Truex was better than us that second stage by quite a bit. We were able to get the jump on him the following restart and led pretty much the rest of the distance. "I had to fight them off there after the green flag stops (before the final caution), and that was a lot of fun. This is just amazing. We've been so good all year long, three seconds in a row. I've been watching all the TV like 'He doesn't know how to win,' but we knew how to win today, so that was good ." In posting his second career victory (the first coming at two-mile Michigan last year), Larson completed his first weekend sweep, having won Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series event. Larson extended his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series lead to 29 points over second-place Chase Elliott, who finished 10th. Clint Bowyer ran third, posting his best finish since June 2015 at Sonoma, where he also came home third. Truex, who opened a lead of more than eight seconds in winning the second 60-lap stage, was fourth, with Joey Logano recovering a lost lap with a late wave-around to finish fifth. Keselowski cut a tire during a jam-up at the start of the race, the went for a ride off Jimmie Johnson's bumper on Lap 3. All things considered -- among them a suspension to crew chief Paul Wolfe for an infraction last week at Phoenix -- Keselowski was happy with his second-place result. "We were tore all to hell," Keselowski said. "Got tore up there really early in the race. Went all the way to the back, just clawed all the way up to second ... The last few restarts were obviously key for us. We seemed to get settled into about 10th there, maybe seventh or eighth. "Then kind of just executed the last few restarts. Good pit calls and so forth. Good timing with the yellows. We caught a few breaks, for sure, and made good adjustments to our car to make up for the damage. It takes a little bit of everything: good execution, good work by the team, and a little bit of luck on the last few yellows." NOTES: -- Before the race, the track announced a three-year extension of its race entitlement sponsorship, keeping the name Auto Club 400 through 2020. -- With Keselowski having early troubles, Larson is now the only driver who has scored points in both the first and second stages in each of the five races this year. -- Twenty-first Jimmie Johnson maintained his perfect record at Fontana -- but just barely. After a litany of issues throughout the race, Johnson got back on the lead lap as the "lucky dog" under the final caution. He has now finished on the lead lap in all 23 of his starts at Auto Club, completing all 5,306 laps raced at the speedway during his career. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Boxed in by pit strategy, Truex happy to finish fourth
RELATED: Race results " Detailed breakdown " Driver standings FONTANA, Calif. -- When Corey LaJoie's brush with the Turn 2 wall brought out the sixth of seven cautions on Lap 192 of a scheduled 200 , Martin Truex Jr. and crew chief Cole Pearn gambled. They stayed out on old tires for a restart on Lap 196, but only two other drivers -- Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray -- followed suit. That left race winner Kyle Larson in the fourth starting position, and one lap after the resumption of action, he had the lead. Truex considered himself fortunate to hold onto fourth place on old rubber, after the race went to overtime and extended two laps beyond its posted distance. "It was definitely not the situation we wanted to be in, but we thought more guys would stay out there (under the sixth caution)," said Truex, who led 73 laps, second only to Larson's 110. "I think we only ran a few laps. It was definitely a disadvantage at the end and just really tight. "Holding on for fourth was good for points. Overall, it was a good day for everybody. We just had that one pit stop and I slid a little bit -- a foot or so further than I had all day. The guys got the air hose caught on the splitter and we lost six spots or whatever it was (during a stop under caution on Lap 181). All in all, it was a good day, and we ran up front and led laps. The 42 (Larson) and I felt like we were the class of the field -- he just got it done, and we didn't." &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Fill-in-the-blank: Auto Club
RELATED: Read more Inside Groove I should have known it was going to be a special weekend at Auto Club Speedway when an owl interrupted practice Jimmie Johnson wrecked his primary car in practice Kyle Larson won the pole . Sure enough, I was right wrong wondering what happened to my pet owl . Auto Club Speedway always provides the most exciting westernmost fastest most recent race of the season, and this race was really no exception ordinary race onions, Animal Style, please week to have Matt Kenseth on your fantasy team . What really blew my mind was when Martin Truex Jr. didn't pit for tires at the end of the race Kyle Larson tweeted a picture of his credit card . Why would someone do such a careless misinformed silly genius thing? I guess we can't all be like Brad Keselowski Clint Bowyer Daniel Suarez Jamie McMurray Ryan Blaney Chase Elliott Chip Ganassi , who ended up having a really solid race. It's still amazing to me how Jimmie Johnson has finished every single career lap at ACS Kyle Larson is so fast this season we've been racing at Auto Club Speedway for 20 years "Ty Dillon" is an anagram for "Tiny Doll" . I think I'm going to celebrate Kyle Larson's win Clint Bowyer's best finish in nearly two years Brad Keselowski's impressive comeback Daniel Suarez's second consecutive seventh-place finish heading to Martinsville next week by stocking up some Cottonelle at Target buying some Mobil 1 at Rush Truck Centers installing Wurth auto parts on my Ford while sipping Miller Lite ordering whatever a Number 7 is at Subway logging onto Twitter and telling Dale Jr. to go faster . While it's been fun racing on something that's described as "D-shaped" out West for the past three weeks on fast tracks without Carl Edwards winning all the races with young drivers leading the pack at over 200 mph , it'll be nice to head to Martinsville next week for some good , old-fashioned short-track racing short-track tempers paper-clipping hot dog chugging paint trading -- that is, as soon as I track down my pet owl set down my phone and grab some Cottonelle short pit for fresh tires write Kyle Larson's name on my playoff grid send more angry tweets to Dale Jr.'s crew chief buy Kyle Larson gear and pretend I've been a fan for years set my clock back to East Coast time drop my Matt Kenseth diecast off a cliff so it's crash-accurate .
2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Owner Standings
MORE: XFINITY owner standings " Camping World owner standings Position Owner Car # Points Ldr Nxt Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff pts Attempts 1 Chip Ganassi Racing 42 243 0 0 1 1 6 5 2 Hendrick Motorsports 24 214 -29 -29 0 1 1 5 3 Furniture Row Racing 78 205 -38 -9 1 3 8 5 4 Team Penske 2 179 -64 -26 1 0 5 5 5 Team Penske 22 174 -69 -5 0 1 1 5 6 Chip Ganassi Racing 1 162 -81 -12 0 0 0 5 7 Wood Brothers Racing 21 157 -86 -5 0 0 0 5 8 Stewart-Haas Racing 14 143 -100 -14 0 0 0 5 9 Stewart-Haas Racing 4 137 -106 -6 0 3 3 5 10 Joe Gibbs Racing 18 136 -107 -1 0 1 1 5 11 Richard Childress Racing 31 123 -120 -13 1 0 5 5 12 Joe Gibbs Racing 11 123 -120 0 0 0 0 5 13 Hendrick Motorsports 5 122 -121 -1 0 0 0 5 14 Stewart-Haas Racing 41 118 -125 -4 1 0 5 5 15 Furniture Row Racing 77 116 -127 -2 0 0 0 5 16 Roush Fenway Racing 6 114 -129 -2 0 0 0 5 17 Hendrick Motorsports 48 109 -134 -5 0 0 0 5 18 Richard Petty Motorsports 43 108 -135 -1 0 0 0 5 19 Joe Gibbs Racing 19 102 -141 -6 0 0 0 5 20 Richard Childress Racing 3 92 -151 -10 0 0 0 5 21 Hendrick Motorsports 88 91 -152 -1 0 0 0 5 22 Richard Childress Racing 27 87 -156 -4 0 0 0 5 23 Germain Racing 13 87 -156 0 0 0 0 5 24 Roush Fenway Racing 17 86 -157 -1 0 0 0 5 25 Joe Gibbs Racing 20 73 -170 -13 0 0 0 5 26 Leavine Family Racing 95 66 -177 -7 0 0 0 5 27 Front Row Motorsports 34 65 -178 -1 0 0 0 5 28 GO FAS Racing 32 64 -179 -1 0 0 0 5 29 Stewart-Haas Racing 10 63 -180 -1 0 0 0 5 30 JTG Daugherty Racing 47 59 -184 -4 0 0 0 5 31 TriStar Motorsports 72 55 -188 -4 0 0 0 5 32 Premium Motorsports 15 51 -192 -4 0 0 0 5 33 JTG Daugherty Racing 37 51 -192 0 0 0 0 5 34 Front Row Motorsports 38 43 - 200 -8 0 0 0 5 35 Beard Motorsports 175 26 -217 -17 0 0 0 1 36 BK Racing 83 25 -218 -1 0 0 0 5 37 Circle Sport / TMG 33 22 -221 -3 0 0 0 5 38 BK Racing 23 20 -223 -2 0 0 0 5 39 Tommy Baldwin Racing 7 17 -226 -3 0 0 0 1 40 Rick Ware Racing 51 9 -234 -8 0 0 0 5 41 Premium Motorsports 55 8 -235 -1 0 0 0 5 42 Gaunt Brothers Racing 96 1 -242 -7 0 0 0 1
Post-Race Reactions: Good Sam Roadside Assistance 200
James Buescher and Johnny Sauter comment on their strong runs at the Rock, while Nelson Piquet reflects on his pit road mistake.
Keselowski, No. 2 team persevere to second-place finish
RELATED: Race results " Updated series standings FONTANA, Calif. -- Brad Keselowski will be the first to tell you it was "quite the day" at work on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway. After making contact with cars on the race start, then taking an infield spin -- all within the first five laps -- Keselowski rallied to a runner-up finish, only .779 seconds behind race winner Kyle Larson. To hear Keselowski tell the story, it was simply a matter of keeping at it no matter the circumstance. And boy, did it pay off. MORE: Watch Keselowski's early spin "Great perseverance from this team," Keselowski said on pit road. "I got out of the car and looked at the damage. It's torn to pieces. I feel lucky to finish second and curious what we could have done if we weren't torn up. Great day for us to persevere, despite adversity. You'll have that in a 36-race season, so proud of team for that." Keselowski's late race rebound was certainly noted by his competitors. What looked like a Larson vs. Martin Truex Jr. trophy run, turned into an all-out scramble with a dozen cars in two laps of overtime. "The 2 car, I went by him the first run, I just knew his day was over," third-place finisher Clint Bowyer said after the race. "I'll be damned if he didn't finish in front of me. "How did he do that?" he continued, smiling. "Did you see that?" MORE: Bowyer takes third at Auto Club Keselowski's No. 2 Wurth Ford didn't lead a lap all day and spent time in the pits early in the race repairing damage from the opening-lap "adventures." "The last few restarts were obviously key for us," Keselowski said. "We seemed to get settled into about 10th there, maybe seventh or eighth, then kind of just executed the last few restarts. Good pit calls and so forth. Good timing with the yellows. We caught a few breaks, for sure, and made good adjustments to our car to make up for the damage. "It takes a little bit of everything: good execution, good work by the team, and a little bit of luck on the last few yellows. "Glad I got the race on record on the DVR so I can see it." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Bowyer will save big celebration till he wins
RELATED: Race results " Detailed breakdown " Driver standings FONTANA, Calif. -- Even though he had just posted his best Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series finish since 2015, Clint Bowyer didn't expect effusive praise from the driver he succeeded in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. So when Bowyer pulled onto pit road at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday after running third behind race winner Kyle Larson and runner-up Brad Keselowski in the Auto Club 400, Stewart's reaction, as a car owner, was predictably restrained. " Good job," Stewart said to his driver. Bowyer hadn't expected anything more. "Tony wins a lot of races," Bowyer elaborated. "He's won a lot of races. Anything less than a win, you know ... he expects that. And I love that about Tony. Obviously, I know he's proud. He was happy with that. But that's what you want in an owner. You know what I mean? To have that instilled in everything, in your DNA, I mean, this is the way I was raised. "Anything else but a win is a bad day. You are miserable with anything less than that. It's just the way we're wired as a race car driver from 5 years old and on. The problem is, is everybody else on that race track is wired the same way. So there's really only one guy happy, and everybody else is pissed at the end of the day. That's what it boils down to." In his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing, and back in top-of-the-line equipment, Bowyer earned his best result since June 2015 at Sonoma, where he also ran third. But to get a bona fide celebration, he knows he'll have to improve two positions.
Atlanta repave delayed until after 2018 NASCAR races
RELATED: All the winners at Atlanta " Blaney pleased with Atlanta decision Atlanta Motor Speedway officials have put off a repaving project at the 1.54-mile facility until the track's 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race has been completed. Officials had planned to repave the worn racing surface following this year's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on March 5. Several NASCAR drivers, however, urged track officials and Speedway Motorsports Inc., President Marcus Smith to reconsider the move. The track was last repaved in 1997. The worn, abrasive pavement creates tremendous tire falloff, and the slick surface typically provides some of the most exciting racing on the NASCAR schedule. "We're going to repave, it's just a matter of when we're going to do it," Ed Clark, AMS president and general manager, told NASCAR.com Tuesday. "We know we have to do it sooner rather than later. "We've talked to fans, to people in the NASCAR garage, spent a good bit of time with Rick Campbell of Goodyear, and we came to the conclusion that with a little bit of work, cutting out some spots and patching them, we could go another year. "If they can make it work, we'll go another year and evaluate it after next year's race. We are going to have to cut some patches out and repave them, mostly on the front straightaway." ICYMI --> 1997 was a good year for paving ... by popular demand, we are going to hold off on paving @amsupdates for one more season. https://t.co/CPSVmMdkFU — Marcus Smith (@MarcusSMI) March 28, 2017 Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski, the 2012 series champion and winner of this year's Folds of Honor QuikTrip race, said after his win that the decision to repave puts tracks in a difficult position. "It's tough, and I feel bad for those guys because all it takes is one race where there are weepers or where the track comes apart and you've got red flags and delays and everybody gets mad at them," Keselowski said. "So they're really in a no‑win spot. We pick on them and tell them don't do it and all these other things, but at some point you have to trust them to know their business. "... Drivers hate repaves. We want to see the surfaces last as long as they can. But the reality is nothing lasts forever, and this surface has made it a really, really long time, 20 years I think ... and they should be really proud of that." Speedway Motorsports Inc. owns eight tracks that host 12 points races on the 36-race Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule. One property, Texas Motor Speedway, was recently repaved and reconfigured in preparation for this year's two stops at that 1.5-mile venue. "I think we all appreciate tracks with so much character and to have the bad news that two of the tracks with the most character are going to be repaved this year, I think that shocked and upset a lot of us," seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson said when asked about the Atlanta repave earlier this year. "We get it. We understand, but it's just going to take a long time for the track to get back to this condition." Clark said officials' biggest concern with the racing surface are parts of the track "unraveling" where cracks exist in the asphalt. "It's more of that," he said, "the gradual unraveling and a crack opening up. I'm not concerned necessarily about a big chunk of asphalt coming out or anything like that. We've looked at that pretty closely. "The good news about our place is we've kept this thing sealed up. We've done it every single year since it was paved, sealed every crack in the fall. We just haven't gotten the humps and bumps that some tracks get. From that standpoint, other than it just being absolutely worn out, that's not an issue. I think that's somewhat the comfort level drivers have in saying just leave it alone." NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Timothy Peters said he was "ecstatic" that officials are holding off on the AMS repaving project. "I think other tracks should look at that," he said. "Worn-out pavement is the way to go, in my opinion. "Atlanta ... is multi-groove, from the bottom to the middle to the top. It puts it back in the driver's hands. I guarantee they will get a lot of Christmas cards this year for electing not to repave the place." Atlanta Motor Speedway, located in Hampton, Georgia, has been hosting NASCAR-sanctioned races since 1960. In addition to the quad-oval featuring 24-degree banked turns, the site includes a 2.5-mile road course. Permanent seating capacity for the facility is 71,000. "We're going to let it ride, let them slip and slide in 2018 and figure it out after that I guess," Clark said. - RJ Kraft contributed to this story.
Dale Jr.: 'I feel really good'
Dale Earnhardt Jr. discusses his early season performance in 2017 and plans to discuss his next contract with Hendrick Motorsports down the road
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