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Lynda Petty, wife of Richard, dies at 72

Lynda Petty, who was 72, married Richard Petty in 1959.

Lynda Petty, who was 72, married Richard Petty in 1959.

RANDLEMAN, N.C. — Lynda Petty, the wife of NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, died Tuesday after battling cancer for several years. She was 72.

Petty Motorsports spokesman Jeff Dennison said in a statement that Mrs. Petty was surrounded by her family when she died at her home in Level Cross. He said she had fought cancer for several years.

"Through the years, Lynda became an integral part of the NASCAR landscape," NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France said. "We have lost a true friend, who will be missed each and every day."

Lynda Petty helped start the Racing Wives Auxiliary, a benevolent fund for injured members of the NASCAR community.

Besides her husband, Mrs. Petty is survived by son Kyle, a former NASCAR driver and current TV analyst, two daughters, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

"It was no secret that she was the cornerstone of the Petty family; a woman of humility and extraordinary strength," said Austin Petty, Lynda and Richard's grandson and chief operating officer of Victory Junction, a camp for children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses.

A private memorial service was scheduled in Randleman, N.C. No date or time was given.

Hurdle for Earnhardt: Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he wants to swap race cars with Graham Rahal, but believes it won't be possible because they drive for rival manufacturers.

Both drivers are sponsored by Army National Guard. Rahal reached out to Earnhardt on Twitter after Sunday's NASCAR race at Fontana, proposing they swap cars in an exhibition.

One problem: Earnhardt drives a Chevrolet in NASCAR, and Rahal's car in IndyCar is a Honda.

"Well, he drives a Honda, which is more than just a speed bump," Earnhardt said at an appearance at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "If I wanted to drive an IndyCar, I'm sure I could get with Penske or somebody who owned a Chevy and take a couple laps somewhere. But it would have been fun to do that with Graham because of the relationship with our sponsor and the history of our families."

Rick Hendrick, Earnhardt's team owner, was in favor of a swap so long as it was just a test session. Hendrick is friends with Rahal's father, Bobby, the owner of Rahal's IndyCar team. Bobby Rahal was also friends with Earnhardt's father, Dale.

Rahal said Tuesday he didn't see a problem with the competing manufacturers.

"We aren't promoting Honda and we aren't promoting Chevrolet," he said. "We're promoting National Guard, so I think it should be about the sponsor and there shouldn't be an issue with the cars."

Franchitti on pace: Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, who retired because of injuries sustained in a racing crash last fall in Houston, will drive the pace car in May's Indy 500.

Transporter fire: A Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team transporter caught fire en route to this weekend's IndyCar opener in St. Petersburg. Nobody was hurt and there was no damage to Graham Rahal's car or any of the racing equipment.

Lynda Petty, wife of Richard, dies at 72 03/25/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 10:42pm]
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