Junior Johnson, NASCAR legend, dead at 88

Sports

GREENVILLE, SC – SEPTEMBER 05: NASCAR Hall of Fame member Junior Johnson stands in the garage area, prior to the NASCAR K&N Series Kevin Whitaker 140, held at Greenville Pickens Speedway on September 5, 2011 in Greenville, South Carolina. The event was postponed due to weather and re-scheduled for September 10th. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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Junior Johnson, a moonshiner turned NASCAR legend, has died at the age of 88, according to NASCAR's official website.

Johnson had been in declining health and entered hospice care earlier this week.

A winner of 50 races in NASCAR's top division in the 1950s and 60s, Johnson was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010.

"His all-out style — honed from years of hauling illegal liquor at breakneck speeds through the North Carolina foothills — took a toll on his competitors and his own equipment, earning him a reputation as the hardest of the hard chargers," is how NASCAR.com described the racing legend.

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France released the following statement, according to NASCAR.com:

“Junior Johnson truly was the ‘Last American Hero.’ From his early days running moonshine through the end of his life, Junior wholly embodied the NASCAR spirit. He was an inaugural NASCAR Hall of Famer, a nod to an extraordinary career as both a driver and team owner. Between his on-track accomplishments and his introduction of Winston to the sport, few have contributed to the success of NASCAR as Junior has. The entire NASCAR family is saddened by the loss of a true giant of our sport, and we offer our deepest condolences to Junior’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

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