Today we continue our look at Petty Enterprises and others with #42. In Sprint Cup Series competition the #42 The has started 1,470 races with 48 drivers and has 70 wins, 50 poles, 361 top 5s, 645 top 10s, and 274 DNFs.
- If Richard Petty was “The King” then what does that make his father, Lee Petty? The Emperor? Lee The Great? The NASCAR Messiah? Apparently he was nicknamed “Squirrel .”
But I digress, Lee Petty started the #42 in 414 races for 53 out of his 54 career wins. Lee started the very first NASCAR Strictly Stock (now Sprint Cup) race at Charlotte Speedway in 1949 and drove until 1964. He was a pioneer of the sport and one of the first racing superstars. Petty was a 3 time Grand National (Sprint Cup) champion winning the title in 1954, 1958, & 1959.
In 1959 Petty would win the inaugural Daytona 500 , but not without some controversy. The finish was so close that Johnny Beauchamp, #73, would originally be declared the winner. Not until Wednesday, 3 days after the race, would photographic evidence prove that Petty was the winner.
In 1961 Petty & Beauchamp would meet again at Daytona in a crash that launched both cars over the guardrail and out of the track. Petty would spend 4 months in the hospital. The wreck basically ended his career. Though he would race 6 more times, he would never win again. He hung up his helmet for good in 1964.
Lee passed away in 2000 3 days after his great-grandson Adam made his first and only Cup Series start. Lee Petty was 86.
- Lee’s grandson Kyle Petty drove #42 at 2 separate points in his career for 286 starts including 6 of Kyle’s 8 wins. Starting in 1979 he drove #42 for Petty Enterprises. He drove this car until 1982 when he started splitting time between his family car and the #1 car owned by Hoss Ellington . Kyle never won a race driving for Petty Enterprises.
In 1989 Kyle would return to #42 with the newly formered SABCO team owned by Felix Sabates. The car still operates today, driven by Kyle Larson and fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Petty created quite a few memorable moments driving for SABCO. Kyle would continue to drive the car through 1996 when he left SABCO to found his own team , PE2.
- Following Petty, Joe Nemechek drove the #42 for 94 races from 1997-1999 including his first career win.
- In 2000 Kenny Irwin Jr. replaced Nemechek in the SABCO #42. Irwin made 17 starts in the number before he was tragically killed in the 3rd turn of New Hampshire International Speedway, the same corner that had taken the life of Adam Petty only 8 weeks prior. Irwin, like Petty and many others, died of a basilar skull fracture. Not until October 2001, after the deaths of Dale Earnhardt and Blaise Alexander, did NASCAR mandate the HANS device to prevent basilar skull fractures. The next week the SABCO car was renumbered to #01 with driver Ted Musgrave. Jason Leffler would drive the car the following year, still #01.
- In 2003 SABCO (Now called Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) brought back #42 with Jamie McMurray as the driver. Jamie never made it to victory lane during his 108 starts in #42. McMurray left Ganassi for Roush Racing in 2006, but in the funny way that things happen Jamie ended up driving for Ganassi again and currently drives #1, teammate to his former #42 car.
- Casey Mears, who had been driving #41 for Ganassi, was moved to #42 for the 2006 season. Casey earned 8 top 10s in his 36 starts that year, but left to drive the Hendrick Motorsports #25 at the end of the year.
- In 2007 Chip & Felix put a driver in their car with a very impressive resume. Juan Pablo Montoya is a former CART Series champion, Formula 1 Grand Prix winner, Indianapolis 500 winner , and 24 Hours of Daytona winner.
The next thing on his list was NASCAR. Not surprisingly, Montoya found success on the road courses at Sonoma & Watkins Glen winning a race at each track, his only 2 wins in the series to date. JPM was also always in contention at The Brickyard 400 , but never won the race. Unfortunately, JPM is almost best remembered for his handy work in the 2012 Daytona 500 where something broke in his car causing it to collide with a Jet Dryer during caution. After the 2013 season Montoya announced that he would be returning to the Indy Car series with Roger Penske for 2014. He has had success upon his return to open wheel, winning the 2015 Indianapolis 500 and nearly winning the 2015 championship. He has occasionally made NASCAR starts for Penske. He started 252 races in #42.
- For 2014 the Ganassi team put Kyle Larson in the #42 car. He posted 8 top 5 finishes in 2014 including 3 runner up finishes. Larson’s impressive year earned him the 2014 Rookie of the Year honor and placed him 17th in the final standings, the highest finishing driver not in the Chase. Larson also drove #42 in the 2014 XFINITY Series earning 2 wins.
Larson, along with Ganassi teammate Jamie McMurray, started 2015 off on a good note by winning the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona sports car race. In 2015, Larson managed 2 top 5 finishes and 10 top 10s. Larson seemed like the eventual victor of the season finale in Homestead, but a late race caution spoiled his chances. Larson was forced to miss the Spring race at Martinsville in 2015 after fainting during an autograph signing session. Reagan Smith would start the #42 for this one race.
In 2016, Larson once again seemed destined for victory lane. After a runner-up finish at Dover and an action packed Sprint Showdown, Larson finally took the checkered flag at the Pure Michigan 400, the first of his Cup Series career. The win qualified Larson for The Chase, but both Larson and his CGR teammate McMurray would be eliminated in the first round. Larson finished the year strong by absolutely dominating the Ford 400 at Homestead, but a late race caution would result in Larson yeilding the lead to the #48 car as Jimmie Johnson clinched his 7th Championship. Larson has 107 starts in #42 to date and will return to in 2017.
- Richard Petty started #42 a total of 31 times in his career including 2 wins. Petty Enterprises driver Jim Paschal started the number 18 times and earned 4 wins.
- Marty Robbins started #42 a total of 25 times between 1970-1979, the majority of his 35 career races. Racing was a pass-time for Robbins, as he was also one of the most popular and successful country and western singers of all time for most of his near four-decade career. Robbins often topped the country music charts, and several of his songs also had crossover success as pop hits. Robbins also acted in several movies including “Hell on Wheels,” “Guns of a Stranger,” and “Honky Tonk Man.” In 1982 Robbins died after complications from cardiac surgery. He had suffered from 3 heart attacks in his life.
- While Ford was Boycotting NASCAR in 1966, Marvin Panch was offered a chance to interim drive Plymouths for Petty Enterprises using Richard Petty’s old dirt cars. Panch made the most of the opportunity and drove #42 a total of 5 times including 1 win.
- Other notable names in #42:
- Maurice Petty, 11 starts
- Bill McMahan, 12 starts
- Bobby Hillin Jr, 8 starts
- Tiny Lund, 5 starts
- Bob Welborn, 2 starts
- Jim Hurtubise, 2 starts
- Lennie Pond, 2 starts
- Jim Sauter, 2 starts
- Tommy Kendall, 1 start
- Buck Baker, 1 start
- Phil Parsons, 1 start
- Elmo Langley, 1 start
In the XFINITY Series, Chip Ganassi fields #42 for Kyle Larson & Justin Marks. In 2014 Larson scored 2 wins, he won the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami, and he picked up two more in 2016 with the rain-shortened event at Pocono and a win at Texas in the fall. Justin Marks survived a chaotic race in the rain at Mid-Ohio to earn his first XFINITY win.