Friday, April 20, 2012

April 20 - This day in Petty history

1980 - Starting seventh, Richard Petty leads 327 of 400 laps and wins the Northwestern Bank 400 at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

The King won his 191st race with a 1-lap victory over second place Harry Gant. Kyle Petty somehow managed to finish eighth despite three spins during the race. With all due respect to Kyle, however, he was making only his first start at North Wilkesboro, his third start of the season, and his eighth career Winston Cup career start.

Joe Millikan finished 10th. Before moving to Winston Cup as a rookie in 1979, he worked for Petty Enterprises and won a few late model sportsman and ARCA races for PE in the 1970s. He was hired by L.G. DeWitt to run for rookie of the year in 1979, and Millikan finished second to Dale Earnhardt - who from what I've read ended up having a decent career of his own. (YES! I had tongue-in-cheek as I typed that.)

After the Wilkesboro race, DeWitt announced it was over. He shut his team down, and the one-time Petty protege Millikan was out of a ride. Millikan had a handful of rides over the next couple of seasons, but he never returned to a consistent, competitive ride. DeWitt's departure was sad too as he once owned the Rockingham and Atlanta tracks and fielded cars for Benny Parsons that yielded the 1973 Winston Cup championship and a Daytona 500 victory in 1975.

The following photo from The TMC Archives includes Richard's daughter, Rebecca. Today, Rebecca runs the Petty Family Foundation and is married to Brian Moffitt - now CEO of Richard Petty Motorsports.

Interestingly, TMC was photographed for the high school annual wearing the same t-shirt as Rebecca wore at Wilkesboro.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
The King's 1980 Wilkesboro trophy was one I spotted during my visit to the Petty Museum in 2011.


TMC

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