Maurice Petty explains to Alan Cavanna that it took a team effort to bring Petty Enterprises to the top of NASCAR and be successful.
Aric Almirola will drive the No. 41 car in Martinsville in honor of Maurice Petty
Maurice Petty joins his brother, Richard, and his father, Lee, in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Maurice Petty comments on the moment he knew he was in the Hall of Fame and what it means to be in.
Maurice Petty , a well known engine builder for Petty Enterprise; He is the fourth member of the Petty family to be inducted to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Maurice Petty chats with Alan Cavanna just after his selection into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Wife of Hall of Fame engine builder passed away on Sunday
Future seven-time champ finished 22nd in sport's longest race 40 years ago Dale Earnhardt wasn't a NASCAR legend in 1975. He hadn't earned the nickname "The Intimidator," won a Cup championship or even driven the iconic black No. 3 ride. Forty years ago, the man who would one day hoist seven Cup championship trophies was just a racer from Kannapolis, North Carolina, trying to compete in NASCAR's premier series. • • • Earnhardt strapped into his pale blue and yellow No. 8 Dodge for his first start in NASCAR’s premier series on May 25, 1975 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The task that lay ahead of the 24-year-old driver was a daunting one, as Earnhardt was getting set to compete in the World 600 -- NASCAR’s longest race. Even for the most experienced wheelmen, the 600-mile event was a grueling mission. Coming from the back, Earnhardt lined up 33rd for the drop of the green flag. Only seven cars stood between Earnhardt and the tail end of the field, but as NASCAR would one day discover, a little thing like qualifying position never stopped "The Intimidator." In a race that spanned more than four hours, Earnhardt fought his way toward the front. He eventually finished a modest 22nd with the legendary Richard Petty taking the checkered that day. Earnhardt also finished one spot above someone who he would come to know very well one day -- his future car owner Richard Childress. • • • A 22nd-place finish wasn't something extraordinary. But for Earnhardt, it was the first spark in a blazing career that would forever change the world of NASCAR. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Carolina Panthers linebacker named honorary pace car driver for Coke 600 CONCORD, N.C. -- Making friends with a member of the NFL's Carolina Panthers on Tuesday wasn't all that easy for Dale Earnhardt Jr ., a diehard fan of the Washington Redskins. The driver's outward allegiance to a rival team wasn't lost on Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, who rode along with Earnhardt at rapid speed at Charlotte Motor Speedway , shortly after gaining his certification to be the honorary pace car driver for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM). "It's OK. I mean, we take care of the Redskins, like I said earlier," Davis said, fully aware of his team's three straight victories against Washington. "I'm pretty sure he knows." Davis' crossover into the world of NASCAR was a seamless one, as the 10th-year pro was unfazed as a passenger for Earnhardt's five-lap thrill ride. Part of Davis' nonchalance perhaps stemmed from the similar intensity of his day job, delivering hard hits as part of the Panthers defense. "I ran that thing as hard as it'd go," said Earnhardt, who estimated he approached speeds of nearly 175-180 mph in a Richard Petty Driving Experience machine with his No. 88 colors. "I was watching him over there. He wasn't impressed. He was filming the whole thing with his phone, like he was riding down the interstate." The connection between Earnhardt and Davis reaches further than their common ground as participants in adrenaline-fueled sports. Davis' humanitarian efforts earned him recognition as the 2014 recipient of the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, an accolade sponsored by Nationwide -- an Earnhardt sponsor. Those bonds, as well as their mutual affiliation with the Charlotte community, have helped Earnhardt separate his fandom from his personal interactions with Panthers players. "Actually, it's gotten easier," Earnhardt said. "I've got a lot of friends -- real, real close friends -- that are Panthers fans and they make it real hard to pull for the Panthers the way they act and cheer for their team is just … I don't know. Some of my close buddies, they just don't have any class when it comes to the Panthers, especially when they beat the Redskins. I have to hear about it years and years later, and they beat 'em two years ago and I still hear about that. "But I got to get to know (Panthers tight end Greg) Olsen really good, working together with him on some stuff for our charities and he restored my faith in the football team. I really appreciate what they do for the Charlotte community and the area. Obviously, being a business owner in downtown Charlotte with Whisky River, they have a huge influence on our business and our company and the decisions we make, and they're something that we're very proud of. I'll always pull for the Redskins, number one, but I'm definitely warming up to the Panthers after meeting some of the players. They've got some genuine, quality people on their team, and Thomas is one of them." The two athletes exchanged helmets as gifts before their ride-along, but Earnhardt said he hadn't given much thought to making a sports crossover of his own. The 40-year-old driver said he's attended Redskins training camps in the past, but seemed content to limit his football participation to made-for-TV backyard games in Wrangler commercials. "I'm really nervous and shy, so I don't know if I'd want to put myself out there like that," Earnhardt said, noting that he was always too small to suit up in high school. "But just because I'm a fan of a particular sport doesn't mean I think I'm very talented in it at participating. I enjoy the occasional softball game with my buddies or basketball in the gym with my friends. And I love going to the training camp to see the 'Skins and just get an idea of how the team feels and how their morale is and their energy on the field is when they're training, but I don't need to be out there trying to play." Davis' own training exercise Tuesday was slightly less rigorous, but he still earned a thumbs-up from NASCAR official Wayne Auton to lead the 43-car field to the green flag in Sunday's 600-miler, stock-car racing's longest event. In some ways, Davis said, his pace-car duties are nothing new, drawing yet another parallel to Earnhardt's day job. "I'm always ready to perform on Sunday," Davis said. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
'Chief', 'Iron Man' part of five-man class to join NASCAR Hall of Fame