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NASCAR Legends Richard Petty, Jimmie Johnson Not Exactly Seeing Eye to Eye

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NASCAR begins its 75th anniversary season with a name that helped build the sport missing from its team roster—Petty.

Ever since NASCAR introduced its Strictly Stock Series (now Cup) in Charlotte, N.C., in June 1949, the Petty name has been on a race team. From 1949-2008, it was Petty Enterprises. Then 2009-2021 it was Richard Petty Motorsports. In 2022 it became Petty GMS Racing. However, when Jimmie Johnson came on board with the latter during the off-season, the name changed to Legacy Motor Club.

“Jimmie brought all of his people in,” said Petty, who has been around racing for 74 years. “His way of running things and my way of running things are a little bit different. We probably agree on about 50%.

“I think Jimmie is looking at the future. He’s basically going to wind up running the show in four or five years completely. So, he’ll probably be the majority owner. Jimmie controls everything, basically, in the management part.”

Johnson said he was surprised at the level of Petty’s involvement.

“I’ve been surprised at how much he still works, how active he is at the shop, how frequently he’s been at the shop. I’ve been really impressed,” said the 47-year-old Johnson.

“One thing I can say that’s never wavered since I’ve been engaged with him at this level is his reminders that we need to win races. It’s at least four times per conversation. How much that man wants to win and loves to win is amazing.”

Petty cites his seven NASCAR Cup championships as well as Johnson’s along with retired crew chief Dale Inman’s eight as the reason for the Legacy name. However, it’s evident that the absence of the Petty name on a race team is painful for the 85-year-old man known as “The King”, and he admitted it bothers him that Johnson’s personnel have taken a major role with the team.

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The Legacy Motor Club NASCAR team is going through a transition, and Richard Petty says that he and team owner Jimmie Johnson aren’t always on the same page.

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“But as I progress and as time progresses and things change in the world, then it’s probably time for a change,” Petty said. “Again, I think Jimmie’s looking not just at what’s gonna happen this year, but he’s trying to lay a foundation for four or five years, because he’s still young enough that he’s going to be around for a long, long time.”

In 60 years, Petty Enterprises recorded 10 championships, 260 victories, 888 top-five and 1,258 top-10 finishes, 151 poles and led 61,086 laps. Richard Petty Motorsports notched five Cup and two Xfinity victories, while Petty GMS Racing posted one victory, three top-five and 14 top-10 finishes last year.

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