Richard Petty returns to race track after mourning wife Lynda’s death

Richard Petty (Getty Images)
Richard Petty (Getty Images)
Richard Petty (Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va.—Those who associate “The Return of the King” only with J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy simply don’t grasp the importance of NASCAR’s “King” to the sport he helped to elevate to national prominence.

Richard Petty returned to the race track Friday at Richmond International Raceway after a prolonged absence following the Mar. 25 death of Lynda Petty, his wife of 55 years.

“I just felt like I need to have a little time on our own, so I’ve been gone for two or three weeks,” Petty said Friday at RIR during the unveiling of a special Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals paint scheme on Marcos Ambrose’s No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford.

“But I’m back in the saddle again now. I’m just learning to live all over again.”

At this point, Petty expects a full schedule to be therapeutic.

“The busier they keep me, the better off I’ll be,” he said. “I’m surviving. It’s going to be different, I guess. After 55 years, I have to start all over again. I was fortunate that all the kids came home for Easter. We had all the kids and grandkids home, and that really made things work good.”