NASCAR Cup Series
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Brad Daugherty calls team's Daytona 500 win 'pinnacle of my sports career'

Updated Feb. 22, 2023 7:37 p.m. EST

Brad Daugherty didn’t just wear No. 43 during his pro basketball career because he knew Richard Petty. It was because he wanted to be Richard Petty.

So when Daugherty walked through the Orlando airport Tuesday and people gave him an ovation, it meant something to a 57-year-old who grew up in the mountains of North Carolina.

The 7-foot Daugherty, a five-time NBA All-Star with the Cleveland Cavaliers, is easily recognizable in airports and the people in Florida were well aware that he is co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing, who won the Daytona 500 with driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. just two days earlier.

"It spoke to how many people watch and how many people appreciate the accomplishment," said Daugherty, who grew up in a family that loved racing and has competed in some short-track local racing events. "I've been racing since 1989, ... and I've been around the sport forever.

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"And I had dreams as a little kid of winning the Daytona 500. But my dream was that as a driver, which is crazy because my big rear end is not going to drive. But I always you know, we always thought of myself as being Richard Petty one day."

Because of recent eye surgery, Daugherty was not in attendance when Stenhouse crossed the finish line. He had already returned home to Orlando.

"Standing here as a Daytona 500 champion, something that my dad loved — and that's how I got introduced to this was through my dad — It's really, really significant," Daugherty said.

"And it might be the pinnacle of my sports career."

Daugherty became the first Black co-owner of a race team to win the Daytona 500.

"To be a part of something that's so significant in my life and be a part of something that's gone through such a dynamic cultural shift. In the last several years, I just couldn't be more prouder," Daugherty said.

Stenhouse talks Daytona 500 celebration

Bob Pockrass talks with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. about his Daytona 500 celebration so far, what’s left to come and heading to Fontana.

After the race, it was mentioned that Daugherty already was talking trash to Michael Jordan, who also co-owns a race team. Daugherty said that got a little blown out of proportion and that he has so much respect for Jordan, whose 23XI Racing team has the only Black driver in the series with Bubba Wallace.

"Without Michael Jordan, we don't have an African American driver sitting in a seat that's capable of winning a race every week," Daugherty said. "This has been my sport for 35 years, I've been the guy, the African American guy who's tried to ply his way towards creating opportunity.

"And I've been able to do that on my race team by bringing guys in. And you see a lot of faces along pit road of color that started with my race team. And I'm proud of that. But I told Michael the significance is, I was never going to be able to put Bubba Wallace in a race car that was capable of winning every week because we're just small."

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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