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Kyle Petty on Danica Patrick: “she’s not a race car driver”

Jun 28, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT

NASCAR Sprint Cup Showdown - Qualifying Getty Images

“She’s not a race car driver. She can go fast, but she can’t race.”

Them’s fightin’ words from Kyle Petty, former NASCAR driver and current analyst regarding Danica Patrick’s ability level in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

In an interview that aired on SPEED’s “NASCAR Race Hub” Thursday, Petty explained the difference between a “fast driver” and a “race car driver,” in his opinion.

“She is a hot commodity and rightfully so,” he said. “In a market where everybody that crawls into a race car on a Sunday afternoon in Cup racing is male; she’s the female. I don’t have a problem with her being a marketing machine – more power to her.

“She can go fast, and I’ve seen her go fast. She drives the wheels off it when she goes fast. But she’s not a race car driver. There’s a difference.

“Danica has been the perfect example of somebody who can qualify better than what she runs. She can go fast, but she can’t race. I think she’s come a long way, but she’s still not a race car driver. And I don’t think she’s ever going to be a race car driver.”

Petty made similar remarks in 2010, to the Associated Press. At the time, he questioned what Patrick was bringing to NASCAR beyond her marketing ability, as she was transitioning from IndyCar into NASCAR.

  1. imaduffer - Jun 29, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    I need a new cmputer.

  2. turbotee2013 - Jun 30, 2013 at 3:09 AM

    This reminds me of what Shirley Muldowney went through when she tried to get her professional license in the NHRA. Same “Good Ole Boy” comments and negativity as here, but she ended up winning 3 top fuel championships before her retirement. She opened the door for many other women drivers. She also put a lot more butts in the seats, and I am sure that the NHRA is grateful for that. She didn’t win right off but as she got more experience things changed.

    I agree that Danica should have raced a few more years in Nationwide to learn the tracks and get more experience in the heavier car before moving up but I doubt it was her decision. She started her first full year in a new car that took a lot of teams a long time to get the handle on. Stewart Haas has not been that successful this year. If you follow this sport, you must realize that the job of a rookie is to log laps, learn the tracks, learn how to communicate with the crew chief about what the car is doing, etc. A lot of drivers are not very good at that. That takes time; this is her first full season.

    Kyle Petty raced for 8 years before his first win; six of those were full seasons. Michael Waltrip raced for 15 full seasons before he won a race and then his 3 wins were all at restrictor race tracks. It’s not that easy. She has completed all but 2 races this year (94%); a blown RF tire in turn 4 at Phoenix resulting in a crash and she was caught up in one of the wrecks at Talladega. Now for someone who has raced Indy cars for most of her career, posting a 12th place at a bull ring like Martinsville is not too shabby.

    I noticed right off how insane the hype was. NASCAR and the media pushed it, not her. Starting at Daytona, the announcers critiqued every move she made from pit stops to passes, etc. They don’t even mention the other rookies and drivers with less that 3 years experience and what they are doing. If you watched and critiqued other seasoned drivers the whole race, the way they watch Danica, you might be surprised on how many bad decisions they make.

    Give her a chance for God’s sake!

  3. formfan - Jun 30, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    Kyle, the same could be said about YOU.

  4. purplesectornet - Jun 30, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    yawn. Kyle who?

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