Richard Petty will be enjoying his 80th birthday over Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola Weekend. In order to get the celebration of “The King” started early, we’ll spend the next month recalling some of the memorable Daytona International Speedway moments in the career of the seven-time DAYTONA 500 champion.
1976 DAYTONA 500
Only the great Richard Petty could be a part of one of DAYTONA’s finest moments while not actually winning the race. No, 1976 wasn’t among one of the seven DAYTONA 500 victories for “The King”, but it was an iconic race – and finish in particular – that makes it stand out as one of the most memorable moments in his career at DAYTONA.
Widely considered to be one of the greatest race finish in NASCAR history, the 1976 DAYTONA 500 showcased the fierce rivalry between two of racing’s most accomplished drivers – Richard Petty and David Pearson.
In a last-lap battle with David Pearson, the two crashed exiting Turn 4. Both cars came to a rest in the tri-oval grass, short of the finish line. Petty furiously tried to get his No. 43 to restart, but the damage was too severe. Pearson dropped the clutch and kept the car in neutral, which kept it from stalling. He slowly crossed the finish line to capture a long-coveted DAYTONA 500 victory.
Despite the disappointing result, “The King” managed to outdo his rival Pearson as it remained Pearson’s only career DAYTONA 500 victory, while Petty claimed two more DAYTONA 500 victories over the next five years (1979, 1981).
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