Skip to main content
Original Issue

QA Benny Parsons

The NBC and TNT NASCAR analyst, 65, won 21 races in his career as a driver, including the 1975 Daytona 500

SI: You recentlyreceived a diagnosis of lung cancer. How did you know that something waswrong?

Parsons: I'd tryto take a couple of stairs rather than an elevator to get exercise, and it gotto where I'd be saying, Man, I'm out of breath. Finally, I thought I'd bettercheck it out. We've all had conversations about cancer, but all of a sudden [mydoctor] was talking about me. It was the most surreal feeling.

SI: Will youremain in the booth during your treatment?

Parsons: As longas I am able, I will.

SI: What wouldyou tell Danica Patrick about joining NASCAR?

Parsons: Stickwith what you know, which is open-wheel racing. Win the Indy 500. Then when youwant to ride off into the sunset, come down to NASCAR, and somebody will payyou a lot of money.

SI: There arerumblings that the Chase for the Championship could be tweaked. Do you like thecurrent format?

Parsons:Unfortunately, now the champion is based on consistency, not performance. Inthe final 10 races you can win four races, fall out of two, and the guy thatfinishes fifth or sixth every race is going to beat you. I'm not sure that'sthe best way to crown a champion.

SI: Is winningDaytona your most memorable moment?

Parsons: Daytonais the one I'll always remember. I didn't start driving till I was 21. It was1963. This fella I went to the racetrack with asked me if I wanted to trydriving. He just bought a car for 50 bucks and said I could have it. So I tookthis car, put on some new sheet metal and went to a quarter-mile dirt track.Twelve years later I'm in Victory Lane at Daytona. A lot of things happened inthose 12 years.

SI: There's ane-mail fans can send words of encouragement.Thousands have, right?

Parsons: Ain't itcool? A couple of thousand people wishing me good luck and Godspeed? It'sfantastic.

• For more fromBenny Parsons, go to