No one expected Kyle Petty to achieve the same levels of success as his father or grandfather. He didn’t. But he did become an accomplished NASCAR driver, winning eight Cup Series races in his career.
In a new podcast produced by Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Dirty Mo Media, Petty talked about those early days racing in the Cup Series and shockingly revealed how there were times that betting pools amongst the drivers had larger payouts than the actual race purses. He also detailed the bizarre circumstances of his first career win and how moments before he claimed victory he was in prime position for a big betting pool payout.
Kyle Petty shockingly reveals drivers made more money in betting pools than from race purses
Kyle Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have a connection working together on NBC’s coverage of NASCAR. That’s why it’s not surprising Petty would appear on the Glorious, White-Knuckled, God-Fearing, Spun-Out-and Half-Turned-Over Racing Stories with Rick Houston podcast that is produced by Earnhardt’s Dirty Mo Media.
In the latest episode, Petty drops a bombshell revelation about betting pools in the 1980s and 90s between drivers and how they had massive payouts.
“We had a substantial pool in the garage area on a weekly basis,” Petty admitted. “These are substantial pools. These aren’t $150 pools. These are substantial pools. There were days that you could run in the top-10 during that time at a Cup race and make more money in the pool than you could running in the top-10.”
Kyle Petty in line for 5th-place finish and big payout before late accident vaults him into top spot and first Cup Win
Bill Elliott’s 11 wins in the 1985 season changed the pool rules. In 1986, instead of drawing names for the winner, drivers picked a random number like fifth, and the driver that finished in that position would be in line for the winning payout.
During the second race of the 1986 season at Richmond and fifth place designated as the money position, Petty sat in the fifth position, coming down to the race’s final laps. Then, disaster struck.
Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip got tangled up in an accident while battling for the lead. Joe Ruttman and Geoff Bodine, running third and fourth, were also caught up in the crash.
Petty admitted on the podcast that he was initially upset and cussing on the radio at his misfortune of no longer being fifth and in line for the money. Then, he was told that he was the new race leader. Several minutes later, he won his first-ever Cup Series race under caution and claimed the first-place prize money of $37,880.
“The purse was enough to cover the pool,” Petty laughed on the podcast.
Races to lengthy career before moving to broadcast booth
Kyle Petty had a lengthy career and raced until 2008. He won seven more times, including the Coca-Cola 600 in 1987. He retired from racing and moved to the broadcast booth, where he has worked as an on-air commentator for TNT, SPEED, ESPN, Turner, FS1, and the Performance Racing Network.
He currently works as an analyst at NBC on the network’s pre and postrace NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series race coverage with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Thirty-five years ago Petty earned his first career Cup Series win, thanks in large part to an accident caused by Dale Earnhardt. And now, he’s sharing that story on a Junior-produced podcast. Things truly have come full circle.