Benny Parsons battling lung cancer

Wednesday, July 26th 2006, 9:49 am
By: News On 6

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ Former NASCAR champion Benny Parsons has been diagnosed with lung cancer and began treatments on Wednesday.

Parsons, the 1973 Cup champion and currently a commentator for NBC's NASCAR coverage, was diagnosed two weeks ago after he had trouble breathing.

``Needless to say this was a huge shock,'' Parsons said. ``The first thing everyone asks me is, 'Are you a smoker?' The answer is that I smoked my last cigarette way back in 1978, and since then I've hated being around smoking.

``I don't even allow anyone in my foursome to smoke on the golf course.''

The 65-year-old Parsons began chemotherapy Wednesday, and also will undergo radiation five days a week. He's seeing Dr. Steven Limenpani, who treated NASCAR car owner Rick Hendrick during his battle with leukemia in the early 1990s.

``I'm determined to pull through this and I appreciate everyone's concerns and prayers during this time,'' Parsons said. ``Everyone I work with has been gracious and accommodating. I plan to keep on talking about racing for as long as I can.''

Parsons made 526 starts from 1964 until his 1988 retirement. He won 21 races, 20 poles, led at least one lap in 192 races and earned more than $4 million.