The Norman Transcript

National Sports

February 22, 2014

For Petty, it’s still good to be The King

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The King was holding court, trying to explain why the words of a driver who has been retired since 1992 carry as much weight today as they did back in the day when Winston was the name of the Cup game.

His audience interrupted, wanting instead to drain Richard Petty’s pen dry.

“Oh my God, I’m so excited,” said one woman, holding a team-issued glossy. “I know you guys are doing an interview. But, oh my God. Thank you so much, Richard. Oh my God.”

Another man with a photo tells Petty outside the No. 43 hauler, “I met you years ago.”

Join the club.

When Petty pops out of his chair, there’s still some spring in those 76-year-old steps, and he signs every photo, smiles for every snapshot and makes eye contact with the kids who know him only as the voice from “Cars” and not the Hall of Fame driver known as The King.

In the era of Junior and Jimmie, Petty is the rare throwback who looms as large in NASCAR as the stars of today. He’s still a familiar sight at racetracks in feathered cowboy hats, dark glasses and cowboy boots. His opinions still move the sports needle, especially when he’s jabbing fan favorite Danica Patrick.

The King is synonymous with Daytona, and he still knows how to steal the spotlight.

Petty opened Speedweeks defending his remarks that the only way Patrick can win was a race was if “everybody else stayed home.” Pressed to clarify or back off his comments, Petty dug in his spurs.

“It bugs me that you’ve got to be political correct,” Petty said. “I’m not changing my outlook on the world just to be political correct.”

Saying the safe thing for the sake of playing nice has never been a Petty specialty.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • Pyrenees help leader Nibali, winner Rogers in Stage 16

    BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France — The Pyrenees on Tuesday lived up to their reputation for causing ups and downs at the Tour de France: A French rider climbed in the standings, an American went down, and an Australian rebounding from an ordeal ...

    July 23, 2014

  • Mountain stage rough on Yankee rider

    BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France — The Tour de France entered the Pyrenees on Tuesday for the first of three mountain stages that may well determine the final podium of this year’s race....

    July 23, 2014

  • Strong prefers not talking about a national title

    DALLAS — Charlie Strong riled up plenty of Texas fans during a statewide spring tour by saying the Longhorns wouldn’t be in the national championship game....

    July 23, 2014

  • TCU’s Fields investigated for alleged assault

    FORT WORTH, Texas — TCU suspended defensive end Devonte Fields on Tuesday pending the results of a police investigation into whether he punched a former girlfriend in the head and threatened her with a gun while shouting, “I should blast ...

    July 23, 2014

  • Sun Belt boss expresses faith in the ‘Power-5’

    NEW ORLEANS — The Sun Belt Conference’s 11 institutions are prepared to pay more to remain part of major college football, commissioner Karl Benson said Tuesday....

    July 23, 2014

  • Crunch time for Ryder Cup

    HOYLAKE, England — The end of the British Open means the Ryder Cup is getting closer, and there are a couple of regulars still not in the team. That starts with Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods....

    July 23, 2014

  • Sam excited about next phase of career

    ST. LOUIS — Now it starts to get intense for Michael Sam and the rest of the St. Louis Rams rookies....

    July 23, 2014

  • Rory McIlroy appears poised to be golf’s next big thing

    HOYLAKE, England — Golf has been looking for the next big star the last five years, and Rory McIlroy is the most obvious candidate....

    July 23, 2014

  • Yankees acquire Headley from Padres

    NEW YORK — Trying to boost one of the weakest lineups in the American League, the New York Yankees acquired third baseman Chase Headley from the San Diego Padres on Tuesday for rookie infielder Yangervis Solarte and minor league pitcher ...

    July 23, 2014

  • Rays get to Wainright, win sixth straight

    ST. LOUIS — Jake Odorizzi allowed two runs over 5 2-3 innings and Yunel Escobar highlighted a five-run fifth inning with a two-run double to lead the Tampa Bay Rays to a 7-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night....

    July 23, 2014