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Richard Petty: Danica Patrick would only win if she was only one racing

Feb 10, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

Richard Petty AP

I’m not sure exactly what Danica Patrick ever did to the Pettys that has led to their critiques of her, but apparently, it runs in the family.

You may remember in June of last year, Kyle Petty said of Danica that “she’s not a race car driver.” He tempered that by saying she could run fast, but not “race” in the traditional sense. Patrick responded to the criticism shortly thereafter, saying the reverse was true – she couldn’t qualify well at all, but seemed to improve in the races.

Now, “King” Richard Petty has chimed in. He’s gone with the “she’ll never win” argument.

Asked whether he thinks she ever could, Petty deadpanned, “(Only) if everybody else stayed home.” Petty made the comments at the Canadian Motorsports Expo this weekend, in a story via Wheels.ca.

Petty elaborated on the point by again stating that NASCAR has moved from pure racing only to buildup, hype and marketing first, with the racing secondary. To that end, Petty said Patrick has succeeded because it draws in more people to the sport.

As for the “she’ll never win” point, on a conventional circuit, Petty may have a case.

But on restrictor plate tracks, where the field is wide open and it’s a greater lottery – David Ragan for Front Row Motorsports and Trevor Bayne for the Wood Brothers have won at Talladega and Daytona in the last few years – he could very likely be wrong.

For all her detractors, Patrick has often excelled at the restrictor plate races. She got her first and thus far only top-10 finish at the Daytona 500 last year, with eighth place after pole, and has often run well within the top-10 in both Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series events before getting either shuffled back or caught up in the inevitable “big one.”

Put simply, a win for Patrick at Daytona or Talladega would not surprise. A win elsewhere would. A win anywhere would make the “King’s” point a moot one.

  1. testover6370 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    Restrictor plate “races” aren’t really races but more of a lottery. If you’re not arbitrarily wrecked out in one of the inevitable massive pileups, you might just win. And I don’t think he’s going out on a limb here. The scoreboard speaks for itself on her results with a good team.

  2. umakenosense - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    Watch any sports show after the race. You get the top ten and where Danica and Dale Jr. finished. Let’s talk about the other 36 cars that beat her. She shouldn’t even be mentioned. NHRA ladies win that’s how they get the spot light.

    • jobber33 - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      The first NHRA ladies got their faces put up at first because they were the first in the sport. now they get their faces put up because they win. Danica is the first lady to run full time in the sport. There are more women watching racing more than there used to be and they do have interest in where she does wind up. It’s called trying to appeal to the viewers whether male or female. The fact that most men can’t handle a woman on a race track is to bad. It’s going to happen even more with more women in the ARCA and running trucks these days. Are you going to call for an end to the sport when there is 5 or 5 women on the track???? Time to hit the new era of racing and let the old men like the Petty’s leave a sport that they themselves can’t even guarantee a full time sponsorship.

      • penskefan - Feb 10, 2014 at 3:01 PM

        jobber33, it is not that most men can’t handle a woman on the track. It is the fact that a mediocre driver like Danica should not be over-hyped and over-publicized to the extent that she pushes drivers who actually win into the background. Ever notice when the standings are announced after a NASCAR race. They announce the first five finishers and then they announce “And Danica finished 28th”. Why should we care about someone who consistently finishes two dozen places out of first? What about the other drivers that consistently finish ahead of her? They don’t receive mention.

      • jackijr88 - Feb 10, 2014 at 5:47 PM

        Its NOT the fact I mind a woman being out there on the track. Its the idea she gets shoved at us as Queen of Nascar, that she is something I need to spend my money on.
        NasCar maybe needs just to go back to what appealed to so many……RACING. IF ya like it YAY…..if you don’t? Turn the channel to something else.
        And as far as it being whether or not men can handle a woman on the track, IF she could race, I’m sure they’d be up and on their feet cheering for her.

      • wopp22 - Feb 10, 2014 at 9:13 PM

        Your wrong jobber 33,Shirley Muldowney,and the Force girls got on not just because of being women but because they paid their dues by coming up thru the ranks and to get a chance to compete against the Big Boys.It took a while but once she got her first win NHRA but Muldowney showed them that her winning at the lower level was no fluke,just as the Forsce girls have done. They also didn’t talk crap and act like a whining brat when they lost ,or act and look like a HO on commercials for a buck. The only reason Danica got into Nationwide was because of Go Daddy and in the short time she was there couldn’t compete aginst the drivers even though she was driving for one of the top teams.She doesn’t belong in the Sprint Series and is only there because of Go Danny,Petty is right the Broad has no Talent

      • superbird1970 - Feb 23, 2014 at 7:27 PM

        Prepare identical super birds and see who wins. My money is on Petty.

    • thetooloftools - Feb 10, 2014 at 6:56 PM

      Great post. Women in racing will catch up in NASCAR. Shirley Muldowney was and will always be the Queen Mother though. She will never get enough credit for the ass kicking she gave the men in her years of dominance.
      Good luck passing her Danica.

      • superbird1970 - Feb 23, 2014 at 7:57 PM

        Danica Patrick is not Shirley Muldowney, case closed. Put Danica in a real stock car, like a ,1970 super bird, 426 hemi. She can’t drive one of those either. But I bet Muldowney could out drag big mouth Tony Stewart every day of the week.

    • jandabutler - Feb 10, 2014 at 7:56 PM

      All I have ever heard about Danica is that she is the first female in NASCAR. It gave me a bad taste in my mouth. I am TIRED of the fact that being the “first” to try something gives you some kind of extra credit. I was a police officer (female) for 25 years. So what? I proved to myself and others that I belonged there, and not because I am female. I earned the position and title. Danica “drives” a sprint car. Danica does not “race” a sprint car. She has proven that she is a marketing tool and nothing more. If she ever acts like she is trying to do more than stay out of everyone’s way, I may take more of an interest in her career. However, whether you agree with Petty or not, who the hell cares? He was asked a question, and he answered it. Oh sure, he could have lied to himself, sugarcoated it, or have given a more socially acceptable answer. But to what end? It is his opinion and it has no impact on anyone, not even Danica. She can jolly well try to prove him wrong. Feel free to disagree with Petty, but to come down on someone because their opinion differs from yours is not acceptable.

      • 40fan - Feb 10, 2014 at 9:30 PM

        Danica is not the first female driver in Nascar, there have been fifteen female drivers in Nascar’s top division.

      • 40fan - Feb 10, 2014 at 9:34 PM

        Danica is not the first female driver in Nacscar, there as been15 other female drivers in Nascar’s top division.

  3. manik56 - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    She should have stayed in IndyCar where she could win. Understandable enough she chose the money. Enjoy 30th place.

    • penskefan - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:45 PM

      She only won one race in IndyCar in Japan when Helio Castroneves ran out of fuel. And she was driving for one of the best IndyCar teams around, Andretti Autosports. Mostly, what she did was complain about her car or other drivers when she was in IndyCar.

    • midtec2005 - Feb 10, 2014 at 4:21 PM

      penskefan is right, she was crap in Indycars too. Especially on road courses. As Indycar fans we were sooooooo happy when she left, because we had to deal with the same stuff nascar is dealing with now.

    • superbird1970 - Feb 23, 2014 at 7:31 PM

      These so called race cars aren’t even real cars. Prepare 1970 identical super birds, a real stock car. Let’s dee who wins.
      I bet Petty shows her who the boss is, even though he is 76 years old.

  4. barrylibby - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    Who cares?
    Other than the “King” (former champion x however many times still means former)
    Kyles’ accomplishment over a career ? Nice ponytail?

    • richardjlewis - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:36 PM

      Kyle Petty has in Sprint Cup 8 wins, 173 top 10 finishes and 8 poles. Richard Petty has 200 wins, 712 top 10 finishes and 123 poles. Richard and Kyle both are completely qualified to comment on the capabilities and abilities of any driver.

  5. oldsassylady09 - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    This subject is getting very old. This is like the 4th time I have read an article about this bozo’s thoughts on Danica. It is a well known fact that Petty and his father are male chauvanist pigs. They both have publicly stated that women belong in the kitchen and not on a race track.

    • penskefan - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:47 PM

      You must be a Danica supporter. Just to let you know, you probably have a better chance of hitting the lottery than her winning a NASCAR race. But you can still hope.

    • wopp22 - Feb 10, 2014 at 9:14 PM

      Your wrong jobber 33,Shirley Muldowney,and the Force girls got on not just because of being women but because they paid their dues by coming up thru the ranks and to get a chance to compete against the Big Boys.It took a while but once she got her first win NHRA but Muldowney showed them that her winning at the lower level was no fluke,just as the Forsce girls have done. They also didn’t talk crap and act like a whining brat when they lost ,or act and look like a HO on commercials for a buck. The only reason Danica got into Nationwide was because of Go Daddy and in the short time she was there couldn’t compete aginst the drivers even though she was driving for one of the top teams.She doesn’t belong in the Sprint Series and is only there because of Go Danny,Petty is right the Broad has no Talent

  6. mpzz - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Well, Petty is a well-known Republican, with a Republican’s usual hatred and fear of women. So what else is new?

    • penskefan - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      mpzz, that is a real stupid comment. Can’t you construct a comment based upon logical and related facts?

      • superbird1970 - Feb 23, 2014 at 7:52 PM

        Shirley Muldowney is not Danica Patrick. Richard Petty never said anything about Muldowney. Let’s see how Danica does in a REAL car like a 1970 super bird, 426 he I.

  7. fla2mich - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    Danica can do it, just as Kyle did, and other also ran’s did in the past. Richard was a great driver in his day, but he kept driving when he well past his prime running further back than Danica is now, so the dream of winning is possible. I personally don’t think she will out drive Kyle B. or Jimmy J, to a win but Lady Luck sneaks up on the one least expected to win. Just saying

  8. spa67 - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    It has nothing to do with hatred of women.

    Danica is an insult to all the female drivers who have actual talent and have not had the same opportunities due to not having the same physique or willingness do show it on the pages of men’s magazines and suggestive commercials.

    If she looked like David Reutimann her talent would not get her a ride in a late-model race. If she had Reutimann’s talent the Petty’s would never made such comments. I note that David can’t get a decent ride.

    • midtec2005 - Feb 10, 2014 at 4:25 PM

      Best comment so far.

    • jackijr88 - Feb 10, 2014 at 5:53 PM

      As an afterthought…I’ll bet David R. don’t look too good in a bikini either!!
      There are good drivers out there without rides right now, and it really stinks that SHE is GIVEN a prime ride Did she earn it? Not in my book.

      • superbird1970 - Feb 23, 2014 at 8:10 PM

        Does she race in a bikini? No,! Her talent is mediocre.

    • tonysarkes - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:08 AM

      Danica had success in Toyota Atlantic and Indy Cars long before she posed for SI. Danica got opportunity based on her talent in open wheeled race cars.

  9. penskefan - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    I watched Danica for 7 years in IndCar. She only won one race in 7 years. She plateaued early in her career while driving for one of the best IndyCar teams ever, Andretti Motorsports. All she did was complain about her car and other drivers since failure was never her responsibility while everyone else noticed her mediocre driving ability. The point that was the most difficult to accept was why she was over-hyped and over-publicized while demonstrating mediocre driving skills at best. Other drivers like Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, who consistently win in IndyCar, were pushed aside so Danica could receive all the publicity. Believe it or not, we in IndyCar were so relieved when she went to NASCAR due to the fact that her replacement at Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, has improved their winning record 100% since she left and he never complains.

    • indycarseries500 - Feb 10, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      To be fair Andretti Autosport was in a valley for most of her years there, she won a race in 08 and placed 5th in the Championship in 2009 behind only the Penskes and Ganassis. She wasn’t bad at all until she started dabbling in stock cars.

  10. tonysarkes - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    Asked whether he thinks she ever could, Petty deadpanned, “(Only) if everybody else stayed home.”

    Lol

  11. tonysarkes - Feb 10, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    I think Danica is a good racing Driver. She qualified on the pole position a few times in Indy Car, and actually won a race. Danica finished 4th at the Indy 500 in her rookie year, far better than 100’s of men have done before her. Danica qualified on the pole at the Daytona 500, ran in the top 10 all day and finished 8th.

    Overall, while Danica may not be competitive in NASCAR, she has had success in both open wheeled and stock cars.

    To say that Danica has no talent is a bogus statement.

    • midtec2005 - Feb 10, 2014 at 4:33 PM

      “To say that Danica has no talent is a bogus statement.”

      I can agree with that, but at the same time, to say she has as much talent as any of the other drivers in sprint cup is also a bogus statement.

      She has more talent than me, but I’m not a sprint cup (or indycar) driver.

      She just naturally creates animosity towards herself because of who she is. In Indycars she got top rides over people like Oriel Servia and Justin Wilson who are miles better but mired in mediocre rides. In NASCAR the same thing is happening, as someone else mentioned David Reutimann doesn’t even have a ride right now. When this kind of thing happens people are going to be annoyed. That’s why you see people take shots at her. Whether or not the Pettys are sexist, they would still say she has no shot because it’s true. But as another poster mentioned… even a broken clock is right twice a day… a win could happen.

      • indycarseries500 - Feb 10, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        That Arca race she did in 2010 completely changed her. 2009 she finished 3rd at Indianapolis and was best of the rest with a 5th place in the championship. When she arrived in Daytona to do that Arca race she had loads of attention and I think there’s a video on Youtube edited to just the times they say her name and it’s a hundred or so times, at that moment she became a brand more focused on being a celebrity than racer. Before then she’d get mad about qualifying 5th now she could run 30th get out of the car with a smile and say “man we had a tough day but it was fun and I learned a lot.”

      • tonysarkes - Feb 10, 2014 at 6:32 PM

        I agree with you in the sense that all the attention Danica gets racing stock cars, is due to the fact that she is a woman, a woman who’s had some success in Indy car racing.

        Up until a few years ago, Danica has been in open wheeled race cars her whole life, including go carts. Danica definitely has a learning curve in American stock car racing.

        There is a possibility that she could win a race, but she’ll never win a championship.

        Again, I totally agree that Danica gets more publicity because of her gender, but she is still a decent auto racer.

      • midtec2005 - Feb 11, 2014 at 9:42 AM

        Danica is “a woman who’s had some success in Indy car racing. ”

        To Indycar drivers that have actually had success that has to be an insult. She has had some good finishes, yes, but she was most well known for not crashing… that’s it.

        I’ll tell you what really pisses fans off, when there are women who clearly have more talent but can’t get the time of day from a big team. De Silvestro outraced her teammate, Tony Kanaan, on occasion last year… on road courses. Danica outraced her teammates… never. Even the year she finished 3rd at Indy was because of fuel mileage, she wasn’t in the top 10 all day, but her teammates were.

  12. f1wheelnut - Feb 10, 2014 at 5:42 PM

    And I just became a Danica Patrick fan — at least until she gets her first win. And folks wonder why I don’t like NASCAR. All left turns and right wingnuts.

  13. icupn - Feb 10, 2014 at 5:54 PM

    NASCAR attempt to build Hype. Thats is all. Nothing to see here.

  14. jackijr88 - Feb 10, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    I’ve seen her AFTER the race was over, chase down and run another car into the wall? Why? Because he blew a tire, and got into her. I’ve heard excuse after excuse why she didn’t place better, why she didn’t win. And, of course, its NEVER her fault, always someone else is to blame.
    IF ya wanna play with the BIG boys….mayhaps one needs to toughen up, figure out WHERE the problem is, and FIX it. The alternative? GO HOME.
    Did ya ever think R.Petty MIGHT be right? He had no problem in voicing his opinion!!

  15. meyeshua - Feb 10, 2014 at 8:08 PM

    Even if nobody else showed up she would hit the wall and blame the crowd noise.

  16. burm61 - Feb 10, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    Johanna Long > Danica and she has no ride. Johanna Long beat KYLE BUSCH in the snowball derby btw.

  17. timaug - Feb 10, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    OH RICHARD, ITS TRUE, BUT WE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO SAY THAT.
    SO SAYS THE LIBERALS.

  18. scamuel - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:48 PM

    She’d be faster on roller skates than she is in a car! Great comment, Richard Petty, and you nailed it!

  19. prov1x - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:50 PM

    I’m a republican and I love women.

  20. techmeister1 - Feb 11, 2014 at 12:09 AM

    I’m surprised and disappointed in hearing the King spout such dribble. He’s been listening to Kyle’s disrespectful, meritless rant on Patrick for far too long. Kyle can’t handle the reality that Patrick gets a lot of media attention and she deserves it. She has achieved more in professional motorsport than any other woman in history.

    Danica may not be as good as some of the elite of NASCAR but she is still a damn good race car driver. When she can drive around Tony Stewart using the same equipment and lead laps in the Daytona 500, qualify on the pole not once but twice in a row at Daytona in both NNS and CUP, she is most definitely a real race car driver. Learning how to win in NASCAR takes time. It’s changed a lot since when the King drove.

    It’s sad to see the King embarrass himself with such an ill informed comment. I suppose we could say Jeff Gordon isn’t a race car driver because he doesn’t win very often these days. Rumor has it that at one time Gordon won himself a few NASCAR chanpionships. Maybe he’s just forgotten how to drive or perhaps by some folks opine he never was a real race car driver, he was just “lucky”? That would definitely make him NOT a race car driver.

    It sucks to get old and it’s embarrassing to see the King and other folks may fools of themselves as they age. I’m sure he’ll regret making such an ignorant comment but he made it so now he has to live with it.

    • indycarseries500 - Feb 11, 2014 at 9:40 AM

      The King and Kyle Petty are really just still sore about Petty Enterprises going under.

  21. worknman24hours - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:12 AM

    Richard Petty is spot on.

    But he didn’t finish the statement.

    The reason is – is that in NASCAR ,you have to survive getting through all the other drivers who want to run you into the wall first before you can win a race.

    Petty found this out himself when it became abundantly clear that no matter what he did, the other drivers were going to make it clear that Richard Petty wasn’t going to win on track no matter what he did.

    When you reach a certain level of notoriety in NASCAR, you might as well go into team ownership.

    Danica was there before she ever got in the car.

    Go back to open wheeled cars Danica, where you can again show people you are truly a race car driver.

  22. onbucky96 - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:26 AM

    Is The King wrong? The only IRL race she win was in Japan when the top 3 drivers didn’t race. Yeah, she looks good in a bikini and moves a lot of merch. That’s about it. Boogity Boogity Boogity…

  23. sportfan2 - Feb 11, 2014 at 6:09 AM

    “She is not a racer”, that is a fact.

    • indycarseries500 - Feb 11, 2014 at 9:40 AM

      She was one at one time.

  24. ssj455 - Feb 11, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    Because the Pettys know that she is NASCAR’s b(i)mbo. She looks halfway decent in a bikini but she can’t drive and when something happens it is someone else’s fault. Honey, leave driving to the men and jusy stand there and look pretty. That’s a good girl.

  25. barrylibby - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    I will give the King this. He drove in an era when NASCAR had not yet leveled the playing field
    with their wonderful attempts to make something exciting and maintain their revenue stream.

    • charger383 - Feb 11, 2014 at 11:24 PM

      Petty drove when it was real. Now if anybody won a race by lapping the field Brian France would fine them

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