It’s been more than 25 years since Richard “The King” Petty walked away from driving competitively in NASCAR. But, while the 1992 season finale in Atlanta was the last time the North Carolina native officially raced in a NASCAR Cup Series event, it definitely wasn’t the last time he drove around a NASCAR track.
Back in 2017 for the playoff race at Darlington Raceway, Petty was selected as the honorary driver of the pace car, which, for this particular NASCAR race, was his iconic No. 43 Plymouth Belvedere. For all you NASCAR trivia buffs out there, you know that this was the same car in which Petty won the 1967 Southern 500.
This win at Darlington, a track famously known as “The Lady in Black” and “The Track Too Tough to Tame,” would be one of 26 wins that Petty racked up in ’67 — the same year that he won his second championship. Given Petty’s shining track record at Darlington (he would perform exceptionally there throughout his 35-year career), it only made sense that he would be the honorary pace car driver at the South Carolina track. During his pace car laps in 2017, there was just one problem: The King didn’t want to leave the track.
After Petty had made his laps, it was time for him to come off the track, but he bypassed pit road. Then, he did it again. And again. Eventually, the flag man signaled to Petty that his time was up as he waved the black flag.
Only Petty could find a way to get black flagged 25 years into retirement. Long live The King!
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This post was originally published on July 2, 2018.