Kyle Petty, on his father Richard Petty" “When competitors saw The King coming in their rearview mirror, the thing they feared the most was the same thing they now fear about Jimmie Johnson – they know they didn’t beat themselves. They knew when the 43 passed them, they were going to have to go up there and pass the 43 back. The 43 wasn’t going to break. The 43 wasn’t going to wreck. Richard Petty wasn’t going to put himself in a stupid position. So, if he was running competitively enough to win the race, I think what they feared the most was, ‘If he gets around me, I’m never going to get back around him.’ I think that’s what a lot of the competitors today fear about Jimmie. Richard Petty didn’t beat himself.
“I’m most proud of him for just being a father. We’ve always separated the family thing from the driver thing. What we do on the track is what we do but it’s not who we are. I don’t think any of our family has ever thought that’s who we are. Obviously, the (Victory Junction Gang) Camp and things we’ve done away from the race track are more important than things we’ve done on the race track. I’m proudest of him when I look at my sisters and my mother … I’m more proud of him for being a husband and a father than for ever being a race car driver.
Larry McReynolds on Dale Earnhardt: “I worked with Dale more than a year-and-a-half and never could really give him what he was looking for in a race car. But he told me sitting in that truck, ‘Larry, you and I never had a fair chance together. I needed this surgery a long time ago and feel like a new man now. The two years you and I worked together, I never could get quite comfortable.
“He had used that phrase a lot and it drove me absolutely crazy. I’d ask him what the car was doing and he’d say, ‘I don’t know. It’s just not comfortable.’ What does ‘not comfortable’ mean? But he was speaking the truth – he wasn’t comfortable. After he finally had that surgery, we saw a new Dale. I talked to him just after he had run the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2001 and there was a new Dale Earnhardt. He had bounce in his step, he had confidence in his voice and there’s no question he definitely had another championship in him.
“There are two drivers that touched my life and I touched theirs and I think about every single day. It may only be for a couple of seconds, but I think about them every single day, and that’s Davey Allison and Dale Earnhardt.”
Jimmy Spencer on Junior Johnson" “There are certain people who carry a lot of clout in the garage - Bill France, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip and Junior Johnson come to mind. When I got the opportunity to drive for Junior, I asked him what he expected of me. He said, ‘The first thing I expect you to do is to stay on the lead lap and bring the car home in one piece.’ As time went on, I realized what he was talking about. You’ve got to be a factor at the end of the race. Never show your hand too early and take care of your equipment. But Junior was speaking from experience.
“Junior was one of the most aggressive drivers the sport ever has seen and probably blew up and had more DNFs while leading races than anyone in the history of the sport. But he learned from those mistakes and was able to pass those lessons on to drivers like me. You can’t contend for the win if you’re not around at the end. No one battles for the win from the back of a tow truck.”
Bill France Jr.
Dave Despain on Bill France Jr.: “I think what Senior and Junior had in common is that they were always looking 10 years down the road. Racers are very much focused on the world of what’s happening this weekend. Racers aren’t always that forward thinking, as they are dealing with the immediate reality of getting the most out of it they can. I think what Senior had and probably passed on to Junior, was the importance of having a long-term target and a plan for getting there. I don’t think they ever lost that. If you chart the growth of that sport, compared with most other sports, its pretty phenomenal, think about where they came from and where they ended up, and I think that was a product of them having a vision of the future and a relentless determination to get to that goal.”
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