Ned Jarrett , a two-time champion in NASCAR's premier series, said Thursday that he is cancer-free after surgery and four weeks of recent treatment for melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Jarrett , 82, said he was diagnosed with the disease this winter but that his health prognosis was encouraging. The NASCAR Hall of Famer said he was able to participate in last weekend's festivities at Darlington Raceway without restriction, joining the NBC Sports booth to broadcast a portion of Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500. "It is very positive and I feel good," Jarrett told NASCAR.com. "In fact, I feel the best I've felt in a couple of years at least. Getting my immune system built up and getting toxins out of my body and the cancer, I'm really feeling good and feeling good about the whole situation. I know now how to better take care of my body, so hopefully, it won't come back." Jarrett said that a biopsy was performed in January after dermatologists discovered a spot on his left arm during a check-up. After the diagnosis, he had successful surgery Feb. 20 to remove the cancerous areas. After further consultation and tests at the Center for Advanced Medicine and Clinical Research in Cornelius, North Carolina, Dr. Rashid Buttar discovered additional melanoma and prescribed a four-week course of treatment in July. Jarrett was declared cancer-free after completion of the program. "There are no limitations," Jarrett said. "I'll be a little bit more careful about what I eat and the sun exposure that I get, although I'm not going to stop playing golf or going to the races or wherever I need to go. I'll just be a little bit more careful about exposure for my skin to the sun." Jarrett said that skin cancer wasn't even an afterthought growing up in the rural North Carolina foothills, but that cancer was part of his genealogy. He lost seven family members, including his father, to the disease during a six-month stretch in 1983. "Of course, I grew up on a farm and worked in a sawmill," Jarrett said. "We didn't know anything about cancer or how it worked or that sun could do damage, and we went without shirts most of the time working on the farm. Then all of the years that I raced, I was outside and didn't even know about sunscreen. I feel very fortunate, especially since there has been a lot of cancer in my family, back in '83 in particular. So I was fortunate that it went as long as it did without showing up." Jarrett said the purpose of making his story public was to raise awareness for cancer treatment, but the revelation is part of a much longer-running mission. Jarrett has helped raise more than $1 million for the American Cancer Society as host of a charity golf tournament in his home state for more than 25 years. "I want to encourage people at the first sign of cancer, get something done about it," Jarrett said. "We were very proactive on this situation as far as I'm concerned and I feel like that helped us to treat it and get rid of it quick and I would encourage others to do the same. If there are suspicions, check it out, get a handle on it and get it taken care of." Jarrett -- nicknamed "Gentleman Ned " for his kind, calm disposition -- scored 50 Grand National (now Sprint Cup) victories in his brief career, becoming one of the sport's earliest stars in a period of substantial growth for stock-car racing. He was crowned premier-series champion in 1961 and 1965, and also won titles in 1957 and '58 in the fore-runner to the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Jarrett was voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011, the second group of five chosen for enshrinement. He was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. After his retirement at age 34, Jarrett moved on to business ventures, a role as track promoter at Hickory Speedway and a seamless transition to broadcasting, where his voice became a familiar sound on MRN Radio and television networks CBS and ESPN. Jarrett's two sons -- Dale and Glenn -- followed his career arc from the track to the world of broadcasting. Dale Jarrett , premier-series champion in 1999, won the Daytona 500 three times with his father watching and making an emotional call of his first triumph in the Great American Race alongside the legendary Ken Squier in 1993. Dale Jarrett is currently part of NBC Sports' broadcast team. Glenn Jarrett , Dale's older brother, made 77 NASCAR national series starts and currently serves as a reporter for MRN Radio. Ned Jarrett and Squier were reunited in the broadcast suite Sunday night at Darlington, with Dale Jarrett joining in as part of NBC Sports' participation in NASCAR's throwback weekend. Their vintage call of the 500-mile classic drew rave reviews across social media, but ranked as a special personal moment for the 82-year-old Hall of Famer. "We've truly been blessed in a number of different ways over the years through the sport," Jarrett said, recalling his career highlights on the track and in the booth. "This last weekend ranks up there in the top five of highlights of my life, whether it was professional or just things that happened along the way. I'm very thankful for that."
A family man, driver and broadcaster, Ned Jarrett participated in many careers, but now he is forever a hall of famer.
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Ned Jarrett
An emotional Ned Jarrett comments on his many racing and broadcast accolades.
Ned and Dale Jarrett remember Dale's first NASCAR Cup Series win for the Wood Brothers in the 1991 Champion Spark Plug 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
RELATED: Photos of the incident " NASCAR suspends Kenseth NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France appeared on the SiriusXM Radio Speedway show on Wednesday and addressed the two-race suspension handed out to Matt Kenseth for his role in the wreck that knocked himself and Joey Logano out of Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway . Not only was Kenseth suspended for two races, but he also was put on probation for six months. Joe Gibbs Racing has since appealed the penalties, and that appeal will be heard starting at 9 a.m. ET on Thursday at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina. Also penalized coming out of Martinsville was Danica Patrick for aggressive driving on David Gilliland . Patrick received a $50,000 fine and the loss of 25 driver points. RELATED: Patrick penalized for Martinsville actions When asked on the show about the difference between Kenseth's aggressive driving and Danica's, France noted the stakes that were on the line for both drivers. "Going back to Richmond, we made it very clear that anybody in the industry, any driver or participant who intentionally tries to alter the outcome of events or championships, that that crosses a different line than a racing problem between two drivers," France said. After the incident at Martinsville, Logano was last among the eight Chase drivers and 28 points behind the cutoff position for the Championship 4. Logano went on social media to say he would fight, though it wasn't clear whether he meant physically with Kenseth or to make a comeback to get back into championship contention. When asked about whether NASCAR drivers should be allowed to self-police the sport, France clarified the sanctioning body's position. "What Robin (Pemberton) was saying a few years ago was hey look, boys have at it, do your normal thing, and if we over-officiate, we'll draw back on that and let the normal racing action of NASCAR happen," France said. "And that's what he meant, and that's what we tried to do." France went on to point out that the sport has welcomed different styles from drivers. "We've always had different styles of drivers," France said. "Gentleman drivers like a Ned Jarrett who were very successful. But there are other drivers like Brad Keselowski , or somebody else, who is going to be more aggressive. Dale Earnhardt was certainly in that category ... where they take advantage of the contact part of NASCAR. ... "I look at what Brad did in Texas last year as an example of that, where he was racing hard and took some chances that other drivers wouldn't have taken. And there was obviously some contact and a disappointing outcome for Jeff Gordon at the time. That's always been a part of NASCAR, and there are limits to that, of course. RELATED: Drivers react to NASCAR's penalties on Kenseth "And when there are lines that are crossed, like we believe there were in Martinsville, then NASCAR will step in and deal with that. And it's as simple as that."
RELATED: See the throwback schemes for Darlington Just when it looked like Darlington Raceway 's 1970s "throwback" promotion couldn't get any groovier with retro race car paint schemes and a return to the track's historical Labor Day weekend calendar spot, NBC Sports upped the game again. The network announced Tuesday that iconic broadcaster Ken Squier will team with NASCAR Hall of Famers -- and father and son -- Ned and Dale Jarrett in the broadcast booth for a portion of Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 telecast on NBC (7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Not only will the race look like a blast from the past, it will sound like one, too. "Something I'm looking extremely forward to is to have a chance to call some of the race with my dad and Ken Squier, who really helped put our sport on the map,'' said Dale Jarrett , who appears on NBC's pre-race show along with Krista Voda and Kyle Petty. Viewers can expect to be transported to a different era in the sport with approximately 30 cars running retro paint schemes and the broadcast set to adjust even fine details, like making its graphics and logo authentic to the time. The track nicknamed "Too Tough to Tame" is itself a perennial "throwback" to some of the most noteworthy historical times in NASCAR. Described Squier, "Darlington is truly like no other, its imperfections ... it's the perfect competitive place for NASCAR." "Authentic" was the buzzword Tuesday afternoon as the NASCAR on NBC team shared its collective thoughts about one of the sport's most traditional races, the Southern 500 and its long-awaited move back to its Labor Day weekend position on the schedule for the first time since 2003. Squier called it "the best move NASCAR has made in a decade." Others spoke at length about how this weekend's race at the notoriously tough Darlington venue also represents a bridge between the longtime NASCAR purists and the new generation of fans. "I think it's really important to understand where you came from to know where you're going, and what a perfect weekend to do it,'' NBC analyst and former Darlington winner Jeff Burton said. "At a time we look back and celebrate the past, we can celebrate what's going on now too." Fellow analyst Petty agreed the weekend would please those who hang onto the memories of Richard Petty battling David Pearson, Ned Jarrett's record 14-lap margin of victory, Dale Earnhardt's afternoons charming "The Lady in Black" and Bill Elliott winning $1 million in the old Winston Million incentive program. At the same time, there is hope the attention generated this weekend will pique the interest of new fans who have a wide field of young new talent ready to follow in the legends footsteps here. "It's a time to wax nostalgic, but also an opportunity to educate fans to the history of the sport at a place that has that much history … and at the same time introduce them to what the sport has now," Petty said. "There are certain places that evoke history and the guys that came before you, and Darlington's that place. It's still the exact same place my granddad drove around 50-60 years ago. "I was ecstatic when they moved it back to Labor Day. ... This is where it should be. "All is right with the world this week for me because we'll be in Darlington and it's Labor Day."
RELATED: Darlington throwback schemes " Fired up for throwback race It's 1.366 miles of character-testing asphalt; a track so demanding it required not one nickname, but two. The Lady in Black. Too Tough to Tame. Welcome to Darlington Raceway , host for six and a half decades of one of the most anticipated, most difficult events on the NASCAR schedule. The Bojangles' Southern 500 returns to what many believe is its rightful place on the Sprint Cup Series schedule, Labor Day weekend, with history in tow. That history will be on display as the track and various teams adhere to a throwback theme, part of a five-year program that launches this weekend. "I remember that 1968 Southern win that was on the old (layout); I wouldn't take anything for that win and then went on to win five Southern 500s," NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Cale Yarborough said recently. "I just have so many fond memories of racing here. Even though I had rather win here than anywhere else -- because it's home, it's the first superspeedway -- I absolutely hated to drive this place. It was just so tough to drive. But I still would rather win here than anywhere." Yarborough, a three-time champion and member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, hails from nearby Timmonsville, South Carolina. He made his first Darlington start in 1957 as a teenager. More than 20 years later, he became the first driver to win five Southern 500 titles. "I was definitely in over my head," Yarborough said of that first start, which came with car owner Bob Weatherly. "But I came back and won five times and that record stood for 30 years. When Jeff Gordon tied my record (in 2002), I told him, 'Jeff, you've got a long way to go son. Because you never won one on that old Darlington race track.' "This is a unique place. There's not another one like it. I think any driver would love to have a win at Darlington on his resume." • • • Fast Fact I: In 1965, Ned Jarrett won the Southern 500 by a whopping 14 laps, the largest margin of victory ever recorded in NASCAR's premier series. • • • The story goes that after purchasing the land for the track, owner Harold Brasington was instructed that he wasn't to disturb a nearby minnow pond when constructing NASCAR's first paved speedway. What resulted was a layout that features two vastly different ends of the facility, giving the track a somewhat egg-shaped appearance. The unique design, along with the application of what was known as "bear grease," resulted in yet another piece of NASCAR terminology -- the Darlington stripe. Cars would often ricochet off the wall as they skirted along the very edge of the outside racing groove. Because of laws that restricted certain types of commerce on Sunday, the Southern 500 was contested on Labor Day, the first Monday of September, annually from 1950 through 1983. "I guess what they had in South Carolina at the time were what they called Blue laws. We couldn't run on Sunday," Dale Inman, winner of seven championships as a crew chief for Richard Petty and eight championships overall, said. "We'd practice three or four days, practice on Saturday and then we didn't do anything on Sunday. Then we'd come back and run Labor Day. "Golly, while we were gone they'd paint the track in bear grease, so when we started the race it was just a different world for awhile." The appeal was obvious. Not only was Darlington the first big paved track in NASCAR's realm, but the purse in the early years was equally impressive as well. "The first time I went there I think was 1951," Inman said. "Lord, in those years they started them three abreast. They didn't use the banking, or very few used it. It was just unheard of at that time." Petty won three times at Darlington, including the 1967 Southern 500. But the race that stands out in Inman's mind came three years later in the spring event. The track, already known as one of the most treacherous on the circuit, lived up to its billing when Petty's blue No. 43 Plymouth came off Turn 4, broke loose and struck the inside pit wall with such force that it destroyed the concrete barrier. Petty's car flipped violently before coming to rest on its roof. "When we got to him, (the car) was ... in the middle of the race track and cars were still going by on both sides," Inman said. "We unhooked the seatbelt, he kind of came down pretty hard on the roof because he was laying upside down. "Until he groaned we didn't think he was still with us. But he did groan so we knew he was OK. The big thing was his shoulder was out of place. It knocked him out." Darlington favored no one. Not even NASCAR's soon to be King. • • • Fast Fact II: In 1976, David Pearson won NASCAR's version of the Triple Crown by capturing the Daytona 500 , the World 600 and Southern 500. • • • "Bear grease" is no longer a part of track preparation, but the Darlington stripe remains very much in evidence. When track officials moved the start/finish line to what had previously been the backstretch in 1997, the difficulty in navigating the cantankerous old circuit remained unchanged. Turn 1 didn't become any easier simply because it was now Turn 3. "You don't go to race tracks ... going, 'Man, I've got to beat this track,' " Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr . said. "The track's not even a factor, not even a part of the conversation. ... But when you go to Darlington, the track is a competitor. The track becomes as big of a challenge as trying to beat the next guy in front of you or outrunning your peers. "Darlington is one of the few ovals that can reach out and grab you if you're not paying attention or being careful. Most of the tracks we go to you won't really run into the wall or spin out unless you have a failure on the car. Here, if you don't watch every corner, every little thing you do ... that challenge of it, how hard it is and the odds are so bad to come here and get a win, you're up against so much more. I think that's what adds to the appreciation for what it means to win here." • • • Fast Fact III: The movie "Days of Thunder" starring Tom Cruise debuts in 1990. Cruise's character, Cole Trickle, scores his first NASCAR win at Darlington Raceway . Naturally. • • • At the close of the 1984 season, then series sponsor RJ Reynolds, through its Winston brand, unveiled what was known as the Winston Million, a program that offered a $1 million bonus to any driver winning three of the series "Big Four" events -- the Daytona 500 , the Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway , the Coca-Cola 600 and the Southern 500. Previously, only two drivers had won three of the four races in a single season -- LeeRoy Yarbrough (1969) and Pearson (1976). In the first year of the Winston Million program, Bill Elliott came to Darlington having won two of the first three, at Daytona and Talladega. In the Southern 500, the future Hall of Famer had to nimbly avoid a spin by Dale Earnhardt and a smoking Yarborough entry in the latter stages of the race to seal the victory. It was a career-defining moment for the Dawsonville, Georgia native, earning him the nickname "Million Dollar Bill." It wasn't until 1997 before another driver collected the bonus, again with a victory in the Southern 500. Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon held off a tremendous charge by Jeff Burton in the final two laps to pocket the bonus in the final year of the program. • • • Fast Fact IV : Johnny Mantz won only one NASCAR premier series event -- the inaugural Southern 500 held Sept. 4, 1950. The race featured a 75-car starting lineup and took more than six hours to complete. • • • Former crew chief Ray Evernham guided Gordon to four consecutive Southern 500 wins from 1995 through 1998. The most memorable win? "The million dollar win," Evernham said without hesitation. "Because we did not have a car to win that day. "We won that as a team and driver; we kept working on the car. I think we made 16 pit stops that day. "The car was basically destroyed -- front clip bent, rear clip bent, door bars ... we just stayed after it and won that race and we really shouldn't have. But we did." Evernham won 47 races as a crew chief for Gordon, with victories coming at nearly every stop on the schedule, including Daytona, Charlotte and Indianapolis. But Darlington, he said, holds a special place. "I love this place," he said. "It's still my favorite track. It challenged me. I could make a difference as a chassis person -- that's different from being a crew chief. "I loved making the car handle. The springs, the shocks, getting all that stuff right. You could make changes here. This is like a damn dirt track. You have to chase it. You chase it all day long -- 500 miles, five hours sometimes, you chase this race track. "You had to have a tough driver and a great pit crew. Our wins here to me are some of our best wins because we really won those races as a group. Jeff had to be the best, I had to be the best, the crew had to be the best. This place, to run as hard and as long as you do here, everything had to be just right. And when I look back at Darlington, they're some of the most satisfying wins that I had as a crew chief." MORE: Photos, facts about Darlington
RELATED: Edwards rallies for dramatic Darlington win To understand the rejuvenating effect of NASCAR's throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway , observe the example of Leonard Wood. After the Sprint Cup Series drivers' meeting, the legendary engine builder and mechanical innovator emerged from the Wood Brothers team hauler with a retro change of clothes -- a vintage red-and-white No. 21 shirt, white work pants and white Converse Chuck Taylors. The spring in his step was a literal one. Wood, just two weeks shy of his 81st birthday, jumped in place, a kid again with a broad grin forming on his face. Wood's near heel-click came with good reason, a personal celebration of the return of the Southern 500 to its rightful early September spot on the NASCAR calendar. There was plenty to cheer about, from a near full house in the packed grandstands to compelling racing from front to back. To put a bow on another Labor Day classic, here are 10 things that went right this weekend: -- Tradition returns. While calls have been made to alter the landscape of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, Darlington should remain untouched. Renewing Labor Day weekend as a grand festival of speed in the South Carolina sandhills represents all that is right with stock-car racing, recognizing both NASCAR's roots and the track's role in launching the speedway era during the sport's earliest years. While NASCAR places an emphasis on innovation and the direction of technology, the look and feel of yesteryear in a decidedly low-tech weekend felt just right at one of the sport's greatest Meccas. -- Chase pressure. The secondary effect of Darlington's return to Labor Day was its renewed impact on playoff implications. With the grueling Southern 500 in place as the next-to-last race in the regular season, Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup hopefuls had no option to coast in the waning moments before the 16-driver field is set. RELATED: How the Chase Grid looks after Darlington -- Industry support. Putting on a themed event of such magnitude requires a massive buy-in from all corners of the NASCAR community -- tracks, teams, drivers, sponsors, manufacturers and partners. The overwhelming embrace of the retro ambiance -- with a majority of teams participating in the fun -- showed what is possible when all of the moving parts come together with a common goal. The united push toward making throwback weekend a roaring success bodes well not just for preserving the sport's history but for moving the sport forward. RELATED: See all the throwback paint schemes from Darlington -- Reunion of legends. A who's who of stock-car legends from the NASCAR Hall of Fame received some of the biggest cheers in the Sprint Cup drivers' meeting and pre-race ceremonies. Once-fierce rivals -- with legendary names Petty, Allison and Yarborough -- were reunited as old friends on Darlington's sacred grounds. For racing purists, watching the sport's pioneers trade stories and exchange greetings was swoon-worthy. Field of Dreams stuff, for sure. PHOTOS: Best images from Darlington -- Subtle touches. The little things mattered over Labor Day weekend, with those seemingly minor details adding cumulative momentum to the vintage vibe. Darlington piped in music from the 1970s over its public-address system all weekend. Ned Jarrett's distinctive voice was used to narrate the drivers' meeting video presentation. Richard Childress Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports shared best-dressed honors with their crewmembers' classic duds. The original winged "NASCAR International" logo graced every car. Seamless and subtle, it all clicked. RELATED: Lots of throwback looks at the track -- Media mix. NBC Sports' participation deserves special mention, from the use of retro graphics and groovy garb for its on-air talent, but most notably for returning broadcasters Ken Squier and Ned Jarrett to the booth, joining fellow Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett to call the race. Hearing legendary voices officiating the action was like a comfy chair and a cup of cocoa all in one, and NBC did right by all three with an extended stint on the microphone. The weekend's other big wins came through social media, where NASCAR's primary handles offered Polaroid snapshots and grainy VHS-quality videos in keeping with the throwback theme. The hashtag #NASCARthrowback trended nationally as a result. WATCH: Legends join the NBC booth to call part of the race -- Raves for rules. The second use this season of the reduced-downforce aerodynamic rules added to the retro aura, producing an old-school scrap that rewarded driver ability as much as it did top-notch equipment. If the Darlington package stands as a prelude to what the 2016 aero rules might become, the potential for more jockeying and passing throughout the pack holds promise. RELATED: Reduced-downforce package successful at Darlington -- Tire opportunities. The combination of softer-compound Goodyears on a rough surface provided more shades of classic Darlington, placing a premium on drivers' management of tire wear and on teams' strategy with their allotment of 12 sets of new rubber. But the tiremaker's other contribution was a bold, white stencil logo on the sidewalls that complemented the throwback atmosphere. -- Lengthy Labor Day. Making races shorter has been a common refrain, voiced by fans and drivers alike. More howls might be heard after Sunday night's 4 1/2-hour marathon, but downsizing to a Southern 400 would be heresy. Winning Darlington is supposed to test both driver and car. It's supposed to be hard. It's a formula that's seemed to work for 66 years and doesn't need changing any time soon. -- Tradition continues. Darlington Raceway president Chip Wile spent a sizable part of Sunday extending thank-yous to all comers for making throwback weekend a collaborative achievement. All indications point to retro racing at Darlington becoming an annual event, with the potential for growing bigger and better in 2016 and beyond. Racing is often serious business, but Darlington showed that it's OK to savor the fun of it all. It's not often that a debut results in a home run. Here's to Darlington swinging for the fences again next year.
Ken Squier, Ned Jarrett and Dale Jarrett take over the NBC booth and call the race.