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Richard Petty ready to come out of retirement to race Danica Patrick

Feb 21, 2014, 5:12 PM EDT

Richard Petty AP

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Richard Petty is ready to put his foot where his mouth is.

Not put his foot in his mouth, mind you, but on a gas pedal, that is.

In an appearance Friday morning on the Fox News Channel, Petty said he’s ready to come out of retirement to race Danica Patrick, who turns 32 next month.

“I’m 76 years old, OK?” Petty said. “It’s been 25 years since I’ve been in a race car. But I’ll take that challenge.”

The winner of a record 200 Cup races and seven championships, Petty was responding to a challenge from Patrick’s team owner, Tony Stewart, in a national radio broadcast Wednesday.

Stewart said he’ll put together two identically prepared cars for Patrick and Petty to race each other to settle the argument whether Patrick can or can’t win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Petty’s response took the Fox show hosts by surprise, prompting them to ask, “Really? You’re going to do it, Richard?”

Petty replied, “Oh yeah. When is this going to happen?”

After Nationwide Series qualifying on Friday, when asked by MotorSportsTalk about Petty’s assertion that he’s ready to race, Patrick didn’t exactly say yes – but she didn’t say no, either.

“Alright. Tony said he’s getting the cars ready, right?” she said. “At the end of the day, the most important thing is that my team owner, Tony Stewart, believes in me.”

Petty ignited a firestorm two weeks ago at the Canadian Motorsports Expo in Toronto when he told a reporter from that the only way Patrick would win a Cup race was “if everybody else stayed home.”

That battle has flared up several times since with several he said, she said exchanges from Petty and Patrick. Stewart reignited the pot in an interview Wednesday on Performance Racing Network.

When asked whether Patrick should take the checkered flag to Petty to autograph if she wins a Cup race this year, Stewart quipped, “If I were her, I’d take it over and cram it up his (expletive).”

Stewart then followed that up with issuing a challenge to Petty to race Patrick mano-y-mano … err, make that mano-y-mujer (man vs. woman).

“I think that (a race) would settle it once and for all — maybe get him to shut up a little bit, too,” Stewart said of Petty. “I will supply the cars. If he wants to race her, I’ll make sure they have exactly the same setup in the car and give him the chance. He can drive one of my 14 cars, I don’t care.”

Even with the age difference and the fact Petty hasn’t competed in a race since 1992, Patrick won’t cut her potential opponent some slack. She quickly shot down the idea of a “race” with The King on a computer simulator instead.

“Oh, no,” she said.

While the whole Petty-Patrick-Stewart jousting makes for good sound bites and media coverage, we can probably take all of it with a grain of salt, nothing more than tongue-in-cheek posturing.

Then again, if a savvy promoter like Eddie Gossage or Humpy Wheeler could convince everyone to make a race – either ontrack or online – a reality, and perhaps raise a boatload of money for charity in the process, it could become one of the biggest stories in NASCAR in years.

Think of a four-wheel, high-horsepower version of the “Battle of the Sexes II” tennis match between Bobby Riggs (then 55) and Billie Jean King (then 29) back in 1973.

Oh wait, didn’t Riggs have to eat crow after King beat him three times in straight sets?

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

158 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. mayers59 - Feb 22, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    A lot of people are on here claiming it was Petty who challenged Patrick to a duel. It was not. It wasn’t even Patrick challenging Petty. It was Tony Stewart. What will be proven by Patrick defeating a 76 year old Richard Petty? That she is a better driver than someone who hasn’t driven a race car since 1992? Hey, I’m a Richard Petty fan and right now I will tell you she is the better driver. A better driver than a 76 year old who hasn’t raced since he was 52 that is.

    If she wants to prove herself, she needs to do it on the track against the guys who are racing now.

    • mustang6984 - Feb 22, 2014 at 6:28 PM

      She won’t win…not even close. She has no business on a race track…certainly not NASCAR track. Put her in a go-kart..maybe she can perform at that level..maybe.

      • mr68gto - Mar 2, 2014 at 4:36 PM

        If you know anything about kart racing, i.e. WKA then you wouldn’t make that statement. There was a day where 200+ entrants had to qualify for 30 spots at Daytona Municiple Stadium in some of the kart classes. Incredible competition. I’d have to say it would be harder to make the field there then in NASCAR (for her).

    • carsaplenty - Feb 24, 2014 at 10:43 AM

      Richard petty is a low class talentless lout. The only reason he won was he had the best motors out there. Once it was equalized he was a mid pick driver at best.
      His team has never won anything. He started this crap when Joe Gibbs got into NASCAR. Joe, being the class act he is ignored him and went out and won championships. That shut him up. Guess he needs some publicity since he can’t get any by on track performances

      • mr68gto - Mar 2, 2014 at 4:38 PM

        Good grief, best motors, best setups, best drivers. Sounds familiar today.

      • vsawmike - Mar 17, 2014 at 8:46 AM

        Petty won because he and his team were innovators. They did not win because of bigger motors. You think Petty was the only one with a bog motor? You have absolutely no clue.

    • mr68gto - Mar 2, 2014 at 4:45 PM

      Exactly. She needs to beat the ones she races. Beating a 76 year old no matter how good he was means nothing. Otherwise, we could have Carl Lewis challenge Bolt or Old Sonny Jurgenson come back and QB the redskins. Rediculous. The whole thing is just hype.

    • paouser70 - Mar 6, 2014 at 4:38 PM

      Two grown men pecking at each other like a couple of old crows and you still bad-mouth danica – who has stayed above the fray and commented very little on this story… she’s the only one of the three to show any class. You’re pathetic, mayers59.

  2. timaug - Feb 22, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    What are the odds each week in Vegas, THAT DANICA WILL WIN ?
    Would any of these so called fans of Danica, PLACE MONEY ON HER TO WIN EACH WEEK ?
    Yet they are so outraged, when a lot of people say, she won’t win.
    Its time her fans put their money where their mouths are.
    danica will not win, unless its a drafting track, and she is in the right place at the right time, or a rain shortened race, or a finish under yellow.

    • mr68gto - Mar 2, 2014 at 4:41 PM

      Unfortunately, NASCAR does not DQ a winner if they are caught cheating. A cheater car could win. I remember back in the 60’s when Marty Robbins (of C&W fame) beat RIchard Petty. Marty only drove a car because he had the money and wanted to. He was not a race car driver. But beat Richard (*don’t remember if he won) and later was found to have a “very” illegal and high HP engine. It can be done.

  3. timaug - Feb 22, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    Richard was not trying to be mean . He is just stating, what most believe.
    danica was not brought up in stock car racing, and its not something most learn in a year or two.
    Her talent is in Indy Cars.
    Richard was right.
    Look at Montoya, he couldn’t figure out stock cars either.

    • mustang6984 - Feb 22, 2014 at 6:24 PM

      Her talent was in Indy Cars? LOL!!!She left Indy Cars because she had no talent there either!

      • indycar02 - Feb 22, 2014 at 6:53 PM

        she is the only female driver i do not like. but wrong about her in indycar, started 4th finished 4th as a rookie (2005) also led 19 laps, finished on the lead lap 5 of her 7 times at indy, started 10th finished 3rd (2009), started 25th finished 10th led 10 laps. she never said why she left indycar (had talks with ganassi). im guessing its because of the dan weldon death that sent her packing.

      • elmerfudd94 - Feb 22, 2014 at 7:28 PM

        dan wheldon’s death had nothing to do with it. she was already running nationwide, and the announcement to take her lack of talent to nascar was made months before.

      • indycar02 - Feb 23, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        elmerfudd94. then what the h*ll ? ! ?…… was she thinking ? ! ?……. she doesnt want to be the 1st female to win the indy 500 ? ! ?…. she must be D R U N K… what was she thinking (shakes head!!).

  4. sbs2ncsc4 - Feb 22, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    This match-up would likely draw a good gate. Still, if Petty were to take on Danica,
    he’d soon discover the embarassment that there’s massive difference between a
    32 year-old and currently active driver and one who’s 76 and not been in a ‘race’
    situation for decades.

    In my lifetime, Petty’s the best I’ve ever seen and I loved watching him race. Like
    me … he should just leave it at that. He’s got nothing to prove to anyone unless
    he’s simply looking for a big media gate and payday for a truly meaningless race.

    • mustang6984 - Feb 22, 2014 at 6:26 PM

      The embarrassment would come when the 76 year old took the little girl to school…and left her there to clean the blackboards!

      Maybe him cleaning her clock will send her off to bicycle racing or something. She doesn’t belong in NASCAR1

      • 48GOAT - Feb 26, 2014 at 2:26 PM

        Yeah that embarrassment would be severe, but I’d say stick him in a race at martinsville and we’ll see who finishes ahead :)

    • joeh7 - Feb 23, 2014 at 2:33 AM

      So you really think there this huge amount of skill required in racing to,where a an old,man who spent his life winning races couldn’t beat a talentless driver in her 30s? Yeah you sound like a typical nascar fan. Most good drivers given the chance to drive a race car for a few months would give anyone a race, much less a pocket full of money Danica Patrick. No way in hell she takes that race because she knows if she lost she would never make another dime in racing.

    • mr68gto - Mar 2, 2014 at 4:51 PM

      76 is a ‘bit’ much. Although Morgan Shepard has outraced her in Nationwide with a much lesser team and equipment. Morgan’s what, 68, 69? Still racing.

  5. worknman24hours - Feb 22, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    Mr. Petty, you are too important to your family and your fans to risk your life for a publicity stunt.

    Please don’t do this.

    • mayers59 - Feb 22, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      I agree. 76 years old is not a good age to have a late life crisis in NASCAR.

    • mustang6984 - Feb 22, 2014 at 6:23 PM

      Look…he can out drive Miss Wanna-be any day of the week. Stewart opened his big mouth….let Petty shut it for him! As long as he doesn’t whine when Petty does a bump-to-pass and she loses it into the wall…on the starting lap!

      • 48GOAT - Feb 26, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        RP was wrong from the get go, because Danica doesn’t need everyone to stay home, just the veterans & champions who have been groomed for NASCAR racing since forever that SHOULD be outrunning her. And then RP went on and on about gender and follows it up with ‘Im not sexist’ which, HELLO – then why mention gender if NOT for the sake of expressing displeasure with her ‘Girl Power’ popularity? Somebody loosen that guys hat a bit if it effects his thinking!

        Richard Petty opened HIS mouth, first.. and the media keeps feeding that troll because he keeps delivering print-worthy responses. He probably feels such a thrill that he’s given any attention at all, and knows if Danica’s name is attached to it, he’ll his fans and her haters on his side and it’ll be well worth the making a fool of himself.

        I say enter RP in the Martinsville race and see if he finishes at all. Danica may not excel at the faster tracks where being ‘free’ is uncomfortable for her, but she’s shown twice she can beat half the field through that Martinsville traffic.

  6. biggdaddy007 - Feb 22, 2014 at 4:58 PM

    Only 22 days and the REAL champinship starts and i won’t have to listen to these asshats

  7. rbarnwell413rbarnwell413 - Feb 22, 2014 at 6:10 PM

    This has become too much. I hope no one reads this and immediately decides I’m just too old and senile to know better. But, I’ll tell you this….. I grew up in the ’50s and ’60s listening to the races on weak AM radio stations, when Nascar wasn’t anything more than a curiosity. We had our hero’s then as now, in the genre of Lee Petty, Glenn Roberts, the Flock brothers and a young and aggressive upstart in Junior Johnson. I’ve witnessed hero worship, then villain hatred and factory following.

    I’m really trying to pick the right words here, as not to offend anyone, BUT In my, and many others opinion, Nascar, as envisioned by Bill France just doesn’t exist anymore.

    In the ’70s we got Darrell Waltrip, the then current AH…. and then we got Jeff, the wonder kid and all american hero. Since then all we have been fed, since Bill France’s passing, is circus, circus, circus!!

  8. rbarnwell413rbarnwell413 - Feb 22, 2014 at 6:18 PM

    I think Richard Petty has fallen to the hype god’s. A challenge to another driver, really at your age? Did the France boy pump you for this idiocy? Come on Richard…. remember your root’s. This would have been laughed at by Junior and your dad, Lee.

    • mustang6984 - Feb 22, 2014 at 6:20 PM

      Tony Stewart challenged him to race Danica…Richard didn’t challenge anyone. Try to keep up.

  9. mustang6984 - Feb 22, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    LOL!!! Tony Stewart has NEVER liked Richard Petty. And he’ll have even MORE reason to not like him after Richard beats the snot out of Tony’s little girl! In a 20 lap race…Richard will be out for a Sunday drive by lap 3…and Stewart’s little girl will be trying to figure out who that is coming up behind her…since there are only supposed to be two cars on the trac…..”WOW!…I just got passed by Richard Petty” will flash through her mind as she realizes he has now lapped her!

    Hey Tony…be ready to bend over, so Richard can put your keys to that car back where they belong…deep up where they belong!

    • ydousuk - Feb 23, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      Stang you mad bro?

  10. douglasbruce40 - Feb 22, 2014 at 7:47 PM

    He has already shown he is a better racer. 700 wins, god only knows how many poles, HOFer, Car owner. She couldn’t hold his jock strap.

    Her – One Pole and a couple of laps lead, that is all. Sponsored Glorified Stripper aiming a racecar.

    NO comparison.

    • ydousuk - Feb 23, 2014 at 11:32 AM

      First off, I am not a Patrick fan, but douglas, you are embarrassing yourself. 700 wins? Try 200, and 140 of those were before they changed the racing formatt so Petty couldn’t count winning at local tracks during the week as “nascar wins.” Sure Petty was a great driver, but his wins were inflated. As far as Patrick, she has only raced one year in Sprint cup. Maybe she should get a little time before being labeled as a bust. How many rookies have gotten the pole at Daytona? Are you that insecure that you are scared to have women drive in nascar? I have been a nascar fan since 1969 and I just don’t see why people are so offended by Patrick racing. Sure she is not up to Richard’s level during his prime, but I think Petty would have a lot harder time winning if he was in his prime now as apposed to racking up most of his “nascar wins” while racing local racers during the week like he did before they outlawed it in 1972.

  11. biggdaddy007 - Feb 22, 2014 at 8:17 PM

    this is why people think crashcar is a joke a neverwas wanting to race hasbeen thank god theres only 22 days left to the start of the f1 season then i wont have to hear about these assclowns

    • ydousuk - Feb 23, 2014 at 11:33 AM

      And yet you still read the article and take the time to post about it. So who is the assclown?

  12. blackdonnelly - Feb 22, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    King Richard: You proved your point years ago – in my mind you’ll always be Da Man when it comes to NASCAR. If you feel the need to take it to the track, please do so in the 1970 Superbird. Thanks.

  13. awangselamat - Feb 23, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    Hah, Petty.. a racing legend? Only in America he is.

    Can he race at a circuit that has braking points? Right-hand turns? Turn-in points? Blind corners? Chicanes? Quick double apexes? Can he out-brake an opponent into the next corner and make it stick, a-la Schumi? Gas-on gas-off, controlling speed thru corners? Jinx one side, jinx the other side and make a pass a-la Kimi Raikkonen? Stay calm under a 4 seconds pit stop like Formula 1?

    BIG FAT NO. Coz he’s a legend at only MAKING LEFT TURNS.

  14. daviele1 - Feb 23, 2014 at 8:40 PM

    I am gonna laugh my butt off when she smokes his ass shes only been in nascar a few years and how long did he race 20yrs or so he was probably racing while she was in her daddys sac and to the person who said to race the bird well that car aint nothing compared to the cars today he will crap himself when he feels the power of these new cars

  15. smmedford - Feb 24, 2014 at 6:35 AM

    Hey, Jerry Bonkowski, the correct phrase is “mano-A-mano”, which means “hand-to-hand, not “mano-Y-mano”, which would mean hand and hand. And, mano-Y-mujer is meaningless – Mano does not mean “man”, it means “hand”

  16. keifer1751 - Feb 24, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    Richard Petty – You are pathetic. You are going to come out of retirement to race a girl? Really? I liked and respected you for decades but this beyond foolish. She might even beat you in today’s cars. How would that taste, Ol’ Buddy? Leave the whole idea alone…

  17. jmcmahan41865 - Feb 28, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    First..I am 49, grew up in, around NASCAR. Back in 60’s, 70, 80s when NASCAR was Winston Cup. Drivers like Petty, Allison, Waltrip, Earnhardt, Yarborough, Baker, Bonnett, Johnson, Wallace, Gantt, Parsons. Yes, petty won at smaller tracks, BUT 7 NASCAR championships, only he and Earnhardt have that Title. (Johnson will join or break it.) Scoff at, or degrade the 200 wins however you want. Petty has 7 championships, but Allisons, Johnsons, Yarboroughs, and others all ran those same races, but didn’t win them. Petty did.

    Second, Tony loves racing, and actually like him, but sometimes, people let their mouth get the better of themselves, Tony is trying to hold up Danica, and have her back. Unfortunately he knows like the others including Petty, her shortcomings. Like one post said, “what are her odds in Vegas on winning?” lol They are in it just for the money, not to run her down. But Tony is an IDIOT if he was to let Danica race Richard. What does she have to win? NOTHING. What does she/Tony have to lose? EVERYTHING. First scenario…Danica beats Richard, but not by much. 1-3 car lengths on 20 lap race. OK, a 32 year old just beat a 76 year old man but only by 3 car lengths. DANICA LOSES. Second scenario, Richard is hurt in the race, because Danica brushes him off. DANICA LOSES/ TONY LOSES. Old time fans turn on Tony. Third and worst…Richard beats Danica. DANICA PACKS HER BAGS/ TONY LOSES A TEAM. No win at all for Tony/Danica.

    Its not like Danica is racing a 55 year old just retired two years driver. Richard is 76, If some 22 year old just out of college, plays Michael Jordan one on one, one game of 21, beats him, doesn’t mean he is better than Jordan. Just

  18. mr68gto - Mar 2, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    Of course she would win. If somebody 76 years old who hasn’t driven in 25 YEARS much less with a newer car with almost twice the horsepower could win — we wouldn’t see people retiring when they get near 50. We’d see NASCAR full of 70-80 year olds. What a joke.

    I have all the respect for Richard Petty, and he is right about Danica Patrick — she cannot come close to winning, probably not even a top 10 unless its a restricter plate race and half the field has wrecked.

    But ANY younger race car driver, be in truck, nationwide, modifieds. outlaws, whatever is going to beat a 76 year old man. Stupid. If she didn’t lap him several times the she will risk looking like the mediocre driver she is.

    I think what Petty is trying to do is light a fire under her. Get her stirred up. If she can’t get it done with this publicity then she’ll never get it done. His motive is to get her more agressive by challenging her.

  19. bdude100 - Mar 3, 2014 at 5:23 AM

    Does anyone watch the WWE Wrestling programs.?
    Since Danica came to NASCAR, the spotlight has danced around Her.
    Her first Daytona 500 – and She wins the Pole.?
    Everything She does is in the News,
    Now this thing with Petty,Danica,Stewart.
    Sounds like a WWE storyline,and a promo for the WWE Title match.!
    NASCAR has bit the big wiener in the past few Years.

    • racerx68 - Apr 4, 2014 at 8:00 PM

      That’s why they are changing their name to NA$CAR

  20. akismet-a4c90ff9e9b9b02a49eac201b2c8c3b3 - Mar 8, 2014 at 8:36 PM

    Petty could easily be talking about his own son Kyle, who consistently finished in the last 25 percent of the pack much of his careeer. He had a few moments, but certainly nothing to brag about.
    Danica has every right to be out there, she has a team that believes in her and most importantly goes fast enough to qualify. Most people running there mouth doesn’t have the balls to race anything, let alone a 200mph stock car

    • millikensteeler - Mar 9, 2014 at 9:11 PM

      and you do? Kyle was still a better driver than Danika and he won. The bottom line is he won despite the fact he would rather be driving his Harley across the country than being in a race car..he won…

      So your comments hold zero validity. You can get down off that soap box anytime you feel like it and except the truth

  21. millikensteeler - Mar 9, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    This is so obvious Its comical. Anyone who knows anything about racing knows crashika cant compete against nascar talent despite having top notch equipment.

    So what does Tony do? He calls out a 76 year old Petty who hasnt drove forever and of course never one to turn down a challenge accepted.

    This has that ridiculous Riggs/Jean match written all over it. They didnt even play on an even field riggs played singles width and and King played doubles.

    You can try and twist the truth all you want to but the fact is, she isnt good enough to win. There will be a female who comes along that is better and will win someday in nascar however Crashika isn’t going to be the one.

    • racerx68 - Apr 4, 2014 at 7:58 PM

      Tony didn’t “call out” Richard – Richard opened his mouth and spouted that on his own…

  22. techmeister1 - Mar 20, 2014 at 11:11 PM

    Wow, Richard has gone from being un-cool with his previous Danica comment to downright ignorant with this story. He’s really looking like an ass clown. It’s a pity what age does to the brain. He’s done a lot for the sport but he’s really turning into a fool with the Danica hate campaign. He seems to forget the illegal engine he used to win his last race…

  23. pimener - Apr 4, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    If this is gonna happen it is only right to prepare 3 cars and let Bill Lester race them too.

  24. racerx68 - Apr 4, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    If Danica is smart she’d take Richard Petty up on the challenge and then say she gets to pick the track. Then choose Sonoma or Watkins Glen…

  25. baredon - Apr 15, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    Nothing like being senile and stupid… And then opening your old dumb azz mouth…

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