Richard Petty, the Level Cross native who followed in his father’s footsteps and became the most legendary stock car driver of all time, is getting out of the racing business.
Petty, 84, sold his majority stake in Richard Petty Motorsports to Maury Gallagher and GMS Racing, the teams announced Wednesday, ending the Petty family’s seven-decade run as one of NASCAR’s first families.
After a driving career that included a record 200 wins and seven championships — a total that later was matched by Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jimmie Johnson — Petty retired in 1992 and shifted his focus to ownership.
While the cars never reached the success they had when “The King” was in the driver’s seat, the No. 43 remained an iconic part of NASCAR. Erik Jones drove the car this season, earning six top-10s and finishing 24th in the Cup Series standings.
GMS Racing, which has won two Truck Series championships, announced in June it was expanding into the Cup Series, and Ty Dillon — the grandson of Richard Childress — was named the driver of the team’s new No. 94 entry.
The acquisition of Richard Petty Motorsports will give GMS a second charter for 2022 when NASCAR rolls out its new Next Gen car for the Cup Series. RPM announced last week it had landed a multiyear deal with sponsor FOCUSfactor to be the primary sponsor on the No. 43 with Jones as the driver. The sponsor will be on the car for 26 races next season.
Petty’s father, Lee, is also a NASCAR Hall of Famer, and his son Kyle won eight career races and finished fifth in the Cup Series standings in both 1992 and 1993. Kyle’s son Adam was poised to become the fourth Petty to become a full-time Cup Series driver, but the 19-year-old was killed in an accident during a Busch Series practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2000.