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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.

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