DEARBORN, Mich. – Richard Petty will find himself in a very familiar place on Sunday afternoon, leading the field in the Daytona 500.
Petty, who holds the NASCAR record with seven Daytona 500 victories, has accepted the role as “Pace Car Driver” for the 52nd running of “The Great American Race,” and will pace all 43 cars to the green flag behind the wheel of a special edition 2011 Mustang GT, powered by Ford’s all-new 5.0-liter V-8 engine.
“There’s nothing like the Daytona 500. It’s one of the biggest races in the world and to be a part of it in this way is the next-best thing to actually being able to race,” said Petty. “Who knows, maybe I’ll just stay out there for a few laps and see what those guys have got because I’ll definitely be in a hot-rod driving the new 5.0-liter Mustang GT.”
Petty is back as a member of the Ford Racing family after Richard Petty Motorsports merged with Yates Racing during the recently concluded off-season. “The King” previously drove for the blue oval in 1969 and won nine races that season in a Ford Torino.
Ironically, the last and only other time Ford served as pace car for the Daytona 500 was one year later when a Ford Torino GT convertible started the 1970 event.
In addition to the special paint, this year’s Mustang pace car features a Brembo brake package, Ford Racing suspension, strut tower brace and mufflers, unique 19-inch painted wheels, and summer-only tires.
The actual car that Petty will drive recently was sold for $300,000 at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., with all proceeds above the MSRP being donated to The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“We’re so thrilled to have Richard Petty returning to Ford,” said Jamie Allison, director, Ford North America Motorsports. “We wanted to do something that would make him feel like an integral part of our program right away, and having him behind the wheel of a 2011 Mustang GT to start the Daytona 500 is a perfect way to renew this relationship.”
About the 2011 Mustang GT
The new Mustang GT continues Ford’s powertrain offensive with an all-new 5.0-liter V-8, which uses advanced technology to deliver 412 horsepower and projected unsurpassed highway mileage of 25 mpg.
The 2011, Mustang GT adds specially tuned Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS), 11.5-inch front and 11.8-inch rear vented disc brakes, and an enhanced suspension featuring an improved rear lower control arm and stiffened rear stabilizer bushings.
For enthusiasts, a Brembo brake package, with larger rotors and calipers from the Ford Shelby
GT500® Mustang, unique 19-inch wheels and summer performance tires, is offered; new fender badges herald return of the 5.0-liter engine.
About Ford North America Motorsports
Ford North America Motorsports, based in Dearborn, Mich., is responsible for major racing operations in North America, including NASCAR (Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series, Camping World Trucks), Grand American sports car racing, NHRA drag racing, Rally America and the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup. The department also oversees the development and marketing of Ford Racing Engines and Performance Parts, the outreach programs with all Ford Clubs and Ford enthusiasts, and the marketing of the Ford Racing brand through initiatives such as Team Ford Racing. For more information regarding Ford Racing’s activities, please visit www.fordracing.com.