If you are a fan of racing, NASCAR in particular, there will be many times when you are asked who do you root for to win on any given Sunday (or Saturday Night). Since I have been a NASCAR fan for as long as I can remember I have pulled for a lot of different drivers to win, but some I have rooted for have not been my favorite driver. Naturally since I’ve been watching NASCAR for years my favorite driver has changed because race car drivers don’t drive forever, so I will list my favorites and why they are my favorite:
Richard Petty, when you talk about Richard two things stand out, 200 wins and 7 Championships. Richard Petty earned his nickname of “The King” as from the 60’s and 70’s Richard dominated the Winston Cup scene. The Petty blue 43 won on short tracks, speedway and super speedways, road coarses……..and he even took a season off and went NHRA drag racing too!
Not only did the success of Richard make me a fan when I was a kid, but his awareness of the fans and treating them with respect and not treating them as beneath him puts it over the top. He is still one of my favorite racing personalities as he still runs RPM (Richard Petty Motorsports) but when he retired from driving in 1992 I had to pick a new favorite driver.
After Richard retired in 1992, I watched and there were a few drivers I liked. Then in 1996, Dale Jarrett and the #88 Quality Care Ford burst on the scene, winning the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600 and the Brickyard 400-the three biggest races of the year. Dale finished 3rd in points in 1996, pretty awesome for a new team! From 1996 to 2001 Dale Jarrett won a bunch of races and the 1999 Winston Cup championship. After a hard crash at Kansas in 2002 where he suffered a concussion the wins started becoming fewer and fewer. He left Robert Yates Racing in 2007 for Michael Waltrip Racing and retired in 2008 after the Food City 500 in Bristol TN. By then I had a new favorite driver though….
Dale Earnhardt Jr
I am a Dale Jr fan, not because I was a Dale Sr fan. Actually before 1998 I was anything but a Dale Sr fan, but I did respect Dale Sr because he did win and won 7 championships. I watched Dale Jr come up through the Busch ranks, and Dale Sr made him work his way up and didn’t just give everything to him. Everything about Dale Jr was cool, Budweiser was his sponsor and his car was as fast as it looked. Then in 2001 Dale Sr died and suddenly everyone expected Dale Jr to continue on in Sr footsteps. From 2001-2004 Dale Jr dominated restrictor plate racing and won a bunch of races. Since 2005 he hasn’t won a lot, but 2011 and 2012 has showed a return to consistently fast race cars and a chance to win more often than not.
I’m sure here in a few years I will have a new favorite driver, but for now I will just sit back and watch the races and enjoy NASCAR racing the guys and gals that race!
Richard Petty: motosportsuniversity.com
Dale Jarrett: mikesdecals.com
Dale Jr: auto.howstuffworks.com