Richard Petty steps back to be with ill wife

Seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty has essentially taken a

leave of absence from his race team since his wife was diagnosed

with cancer.

Speaking publicly for the first time since announcing his

wife’s central nervous system lymphoma last week, Petty called her

cancer “very treatable” before Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500.

“It’s a very rare form of cancer,” he said. “It’s very rare,

but it’s very treatable. We feel like we’ve got the best people in

the world looking after the deal.”

Petty said he hasn’t been around the race shop much since

November and hasn’t done many sponsorship appearances since he and

Lynda began “chasing this.”

“After 50 years, I figured I better hang around a while,”

said Petty, who has spent his entire life traveling to racetracks.

“Put that on the back-burner because I felt like she was a little

bit more important than racing right now.”

Petty said his wife was feeling much better after having

surgery on both eyes. He left her briefly to come to Daytona

International Speedway, where Petty has a record seven wins in the

Daytona 500.

“I went in (Saturday) morning and she was jumping around and

she said get up and get out of here and get over to Daytona,” he

said. “I know she’s feeling pretty good from that standpoint. We’re

glad and we appreciate all the prayers and thoughts we’ve had for

the family.”

Lynda Petty is being treated at Duke University Medical

Center and getting around-the-clock care with help from family

members and nurses.

“They feel like they can completely wipe the cancer out,”

Petty said. “Naturally, it’s going to take a little while to do

it.”