NASCAR team owner Richard Childress. (AP Photo/NKP, Logan Whitton)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- NASCAR's next youth movement might happen at the ownership level.
Team owners Roger Penske (80), Richard Petty (80), Joe Gibbs (77), Jack Roush (75), Richard Childress (72), Rick Hendrick (68), Barney Visser (68) and Gene Haas (65) are all past retirement age, raising questions about when and how they plan to call it quits.
"You know, I've been going to the races since I was 11 years old," said Petty, a figurehead these days at Richard Petty Motorsports. "Drove the racecar. It was a hobby. Now, basically it's a hobby. Trying to make a living out of it, too. It's in your blood. I wouldn't know what to do if I didn't do the racing part. I guess when my toes turn up, I'll still be at the racetrack somewhere."
Childress shared a similar sentiment about walking away.
"I came here in 1965, was my first time working for another team," said Childress, who has two Daytona 500 victories with Richard Childress Racing. "We stayed in a tent out here off of Nova Road. I just love the sport. I love how I've been fortunate enough to do what we've been able to do in such a great sport."
Petty laughed off a question about where the next generation of NASCAR owners will come from.
"I got about 25 people with the name Petty on the end of it," Petty said. "They'll be here for a while."
Hendrick aswered with a more serious tone, suggesting son-in-law Marshall Carlson, 42, likely would make the transition from team president. He also said retired drivers and superstars Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. want to be involved.
"I think our deal is in good shape for the future," Hendrick said.
Others chimed it, as well:
"I said when I started, I was 46 years old when I started in the Cup Series, 1988, and at that time I said that I wouldn't want to go out the back door doing this thing, that when I got to where I couldn't keep up, just shove me over in the ditch and keep on going, and I'm getting close," Roush said.
Added Gibbs, a former NFL coach and three-time Super Bowl champion: "Honestly, it's the competitive part. I always want to be involved in something, trying to somebody at something. I wasn't good enough in athletics myself. The only award I ever got in sports was most improved. But I think for me now it's family."
Gibbs said he has two sons -- J.D. and Coy -- involved in the family business and eight grandkids "coming."
Added Visser, the Furniture Row Racing owner who is recovering from heart surgery: "Honestly, I've watched Joe myself and he's been an inspiration to me because he's about six years older than me. And he's one of the most competitive people I've ever met in my life and he hasn't skipped a beat. That makes me realize I can just keep doing this thing. That makes it fun. There's no reason to step back."
Penske, who turns 81 next week, is the oldest NASCAR owner.
"I always say it's my fishing trip and golf game on weekends to go to the races," Penske said. "I'm planning to be here as long as I can. ... I get the biggest probably satisfaction out of seeing the young people that grow up in the organization, people that maybe come to go to work for you. They start polishing wheels of the truck, and the next minute they're a crew chief or even could be a driver."
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