Brett Favre: NASCAR's Top Favre-Like Drivers
Recent news of Brett Favre finally retiring, again, from the NFL has been met with mixed reactions from teams, media and sports fans.
Favre's long awaited official retirement was once again announced, and once again before he actually said he was retiring.
To some, retirement is a right of passage, to others it's the end of one life and the beginning of another.
No one knows exactly what the mind set of an athlete facing retirement is. There could be extenuating circumstances, or just some basic statistical criteria.
What ever set of parameters an athlete uses, he or she should always remember this: Retirement from pro sports should always be considered before being offered a senior citizen discount or a position on the board of AARP.
While no professional sport is immune from participants stretching their longevity as much as they can, NASCAR seems to lead the way in not only longevity, but lack of production also.
Listed on the next several pages, in no particular order, are those NASCAR drivers who, like Brett Favre, toyed with retirement, but just couldn't, or wouldn't walk away.
As they slid off the pinnacle of their careers, their on track performance's slid as well.
For the most part, Favre retired at the top of his game, most of these drivers are not, or, were not, even close.
A Non Ruling King
Richard Petty is known as the King of NASCAR.
Petty, the son of Lee Petty and father of NASCAR driver Kyle Petty, 200 races and seven NASCAR titles during his career as a driver.
Petty's last win came at Daytona in the 1984 Firecracker 400.
For the next eight years Petty would not win a race or sit on the pole again.
The closest he came was qualifying second at the 1992 Pepsi 400 at Daytona, a race that saw him run only 84 laps.
At the age 55, Pettys final race was at Atlanta in 1992.
Having exhausted all of his allotted provisionals, Petty had to qualify on speed. He started 39th out of 41, and finished 35th, 237 laps down.
Like Father Like Son
Kyle Petty's career wasn't a fraction of the success his fathers was.
Driving for 30 years, Petty was entered in 829 races, won zero championships and only visited victory lane eight times.
His final win coming 13 years before his official retirement, mostly because of lack of sponsorship money, from the sport in 2008.
Ole Dee Dubbb Ya
Darrell Waltrip's racing resume includes three championships and 84 wins over 29 years.
Waltrip's resume also includes driving for championship owners Junior Johnson and Rick Hendrick.
Then, in 1991, Waltrip became an owner.
He did achieve some success as an owner, posting five wins, his final one being the Southern 500 at Darlington in 1992.
It would be another eight years before Waltrip, then 53 years old, would officially retire from the sport.
Retired, Came Back, Died.
Driving in the shadows of Richard Petty, Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough, Neil Bonnet's 18 year career was mediocre at best.
Posting 18 wins in 362 starts, Bonnett sorta retired in 1990 after a bad crash at the 1990 Trans-South 500 in Darlington.
Bonnett would race two more times, one of those the Die Hard 500 in Talladega, where he once again was involved in a spectacular crash.
While doing some tire testing for Richard Childress and Dale Earnhardt Sr., Bonnett was urged by owner James Finch, Bonnett to give racing one more try.
During practice for the 1994 Daytona 500, Bonnett's car blew a tire and hit the turn 4 wall. He was killed instantly.
Ironically, Bonnett's best friend Dale Earnhardt Sr. would die within inches of the very same spot.
No Front Row Joe
At one time Joe Nemechek carried the nick name of "Front Row Joe" for his uncanny ability to always qualify at the head of the pack.
Unfortunately that nick name could now be "Joe Nemawreck".
Nemachek, a former Busch Series Champion, has raced in NASCAR since 1993, posting four wins.
Lately though, Nemechek, who hasn't won since 2004, has had trouble getting sponsors and making races. When he does make a race, Nemechek is usually one of a handful of NASCAR's thorns who start the race and then park within a few laps.
Coping with Retirement
Derrike Cope, currently 66th in Sprint Cup points, has two career wins.
A 1990 Daytona 500 and a win at Dover the same year.
Cope was a driver who became an overnight sensation, and had a successful career that spanned just as long; overnight.
Cope, 51, has floundered in racing for the past several years, bouncing from team to team, lacking solid sponsorship, and making almost all of his starts, if he starts, in the Nationwide Series.
A Shepherd with no Flock
Morgan Shepherd started racing the day after the wheel was invented.
Shepherd, now 68, does have the distinction of being the second oldest driver to win a NASCAR event.
At the tender age of 51, Shepherd, NASCAR's version of Jack Lalanne, won his last race at Atlanta in 1993.
With 40 years of racing, hundreds of starts across a multitude of NASCAR disciplines, Shepherd has only four wins in the Cup series and 15 in the Nationwide Series.
Today Shepherd races his own car, has no sponsor and relies heavy on donations from other teams and individual drivers.