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Lee Petty | Class of 2011

April 10, 2013, NASCAR.com

Lee Petty

NASCAR Hall of Fame member

It took a while -- three whole days -- for officials to declare Lee Petty the winner of the first Daytona 500.

(b. 3-14-14 — d. 4-5-2000)

Hometown: Randleman, N.C.

Competed: 1949-64

Starts: 427

Wins: 54

Poles: 18

So in many ways, we have Petty to thank for the yearly spectacle that is “The Great American Race.” That’s because he created the very first spectacle.

On the final lap, Petty and Johnny Beauchamp barreled toward the finish line, in what would become one of the closest finishes in the prestigious race’s history. So close, in fact, that race officials put a hold on the results for three days. A photo snapped at the finish line confirmed Petty’s win, his first in another championship winning season. 

But that first Daytona 500 is only one of many Petty accomplishments. His career was a long list of “firsts” and “mosts.” Along with winning the first Daytona 500, Petty also was the first driver to capture three championships in what now is the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

And up until the time his own son, Richard, caught and passed him, Lee won more races than any other driver -- 54. That number still ranks ninth all-time.

But maybe his greatest legacy is his own name -- and lineage. Petty, who started Petty Enterprises, is the father of “The King” Richard Petty and the grandfather of Kyle Petty.

 
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Statistics
Year Age Races Win Top 5 Top 10 Pole Laps Led AvSt AvFn RAF Miles LLF
1949 35 6 of 8 1 3 5 0 890 1 7.0 6.3 5 595.4 2
1950 36 17 of 19 1 9 13 0 1558 43 5.8 7.7 15 1441.7 1
1951 37 32 of 41 1 11 19 0 1103 99 7.3 10.9 32 1087.3 2
1952 38 32 of 34 3 21 27 0 5094 191 10.6 6.6 27 3478.9 8
1953 39 36 of 37 5 26 32 0 3021 209 3.2 4.8 35 2248.3 8
1954 40 34 of 37 7 24 32 3 5903 595 1.9 5.6 31 4032.7 11
1955 41 42 of 45 6 20 30 1 6524 769 8.9 8.3 32 4541.5 11
1956 42 47 of 56 2 17 28 1 7407 246 9.4 10.2 32 4949.3 5
1957 43 41 of 53 4 20 33 3 7466 449 7.4 7.8 35 4614.0 8
1958 44 50 of 51 7 28 43 4 9315 439 5.2 6.3 45 6074.0 14
1959 45 42 of 44 11 27 35 2 8278 1010 7.2 6.2 34 5229.6 14
1960 46 39 of 44 5 21 30 3 7518 514 7.7 8.6 30 5520.5 13
1961 47 3 of 52 1 2 2 1 433 126 9.7 6.3 2 290.5 1
1962 48 1 of 53 0 1 1 0 499 0 5.0 5.0 1 262.5 0
1963 49 3 of 55 0 1 2 0 291 0 10.7 9.3 2 178.5 1
1964 50 2 of 62 0 0 0 0 28 0 18.5 19.5 0 31.6 0
16 years   427 54 231 332 18 65328 4691 7.8 8.1 358 44576.3 99
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