Seven-Time Daytona 500 Champion Richard Petty To Drive Pace Car

Sal Sigala Jr.Senior Analyst IFebruary 12, 2010

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 20:  NASCAR legend and team owner Richrd Petty stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2009 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
John Harrelson/Getty Images

Seven-time Daytona 500 winner Richard Petty, will find himself in a very unfamiliar position when the 52nd running of “The Great American Race” takes the green flag on Sunday.

Petty who only won one pole during his illustrious career, will be piloting a special edition 2011 Mustang GT to lead the field to start the 2010 Daytona 500.

Even though Petty holds the NASCAR record with seven Daytona 500 victories, his one and only pole came back in 1966 when he parlayed the top starting position into his second 500 victory.

“There’s nothing like the Daytona 500. It’s one of the biggest races in the world and to be a part of it in this way is the next-best thing to actually being able to race,” said Petty.

“Who knows, maybe I’ll just stay out there for a few laps and see what those guys have got because I’ll definitely be in a hot-rod driving the new 5.0-liter Mustang GT.”

Petty is back as a member of the Ford Racing family after Richard Petty Motorsports merged with Yates Racing during the recently concluded offseason, and the last time Petty was behind the wheel of a Ford was back in 1969 when he led the series with nine victories.

The actual car that Petty will drive recently was sold for $300,000 at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., with all proceeds above the MSRP being donated to The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

“We’re so thrilled to have Richard Petty returning to Ford,” said Jamie Allison, director, Ford North America Motorsports.

“We wanted to do something that would make him feel like an integral part of our program right away, and having him behind the wheel of a 2011 Mustang GT to start the Daytona 500 is a perfect way to renew this relationship.”