Feb 21, 2014, 5:12 PM EST
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 Wheels.ca 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
Nov 25, 2014, 4:44 PM EST
It may be Thanksgiving week but NASCAR AMERICA is still on tonight at 5 p.m. ET.
Nov 25, 2014, 4:30 PM EST
The ex-Caterham pilot runs 95 laps in the Sauber C33 at Yas Marina Circuit.
Jay Mohr back to host this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards; Aloe Blacc, Lady Antebellum among performers
Nov 25, 2014, 3:48 PM EST
A star-studded affair to come for NASCAR in Las Vegas.
Nov 25, 2014, 3:00 PM EST
Palmer logs only 37 laps for Force India in Abu Dhabi, but places fourth on the time sheets.
Nov 25, 2014, 2:30 PM EST
Caterham not only stays for test, but banks 100-plus laps on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi.
Nov 25, 2014, 2:00 PM EST
Carlos Sainz Jr. has a good day with Red Bull, as he stakes claim for Toro Rosso seat in 2015.
Nov 25, 2014, 1:30 PM EST
Rosberg pounds out 114 laps – the most of any driver – in Day 1 of testing in Abu Dhabi.
Nov 25, 2014, 1:00 PM EST
IndyCar’s available pool of talent, as always, is larger than the number of remaining seats.
Nov 25, 2014, 12:30 PM EST
The Ford squad enters this week’s World RX finale down four points in their fight for the team championship.
Nov 25, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
McLaren-Honda gets out, with ideally more to come on Wednesday.
Nov 25, 2014, 11:36 AM EST
One Mercedes team on top, one former Mercedes team gets install laps only.
Nov 25, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
Go inside the numbers of this year’s final F1 points standings.
Nov 25, 2014, 10:00 AM EST
GP3 champ to have first F1 run.
Nov 25, 2014, 9:40 AM EST
Ex-Lotus reserve will have his first IndyCar test in December.
Nov 24, 2014, 8:03 PM EST
The two drivers answer the call of the open road.
Nov 24, 2014, 6:26 PM EST
The future NASCAR on NBC analyst talks about how Rick Hendrick and his partnerships with Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have impacted his life.
Nov 24, 2014, 5:30 PM EST
Dillon will run the No. 33 Chevrolet in the XFINITY Series in addition to continuing his full-time duties in Sprint Cup.
Nov 24, 2014, 4:49 PM EST
The former F1 racer won two Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, but he’s about to see the legendary track in a whole new light.
Nov 24, 2014, 3:32 PM EST
Next season, the campaign will serve as primary sponsor for Aric Almirola’s No. 43 at Atlanta in March and Darlington in May.
Nov 24, 2014, 2:33 PM EST
The nine-time World Rally Champion is now a full-time touring car racer, but will help kick off the 2015 WRC campaign for Citroen.
Video from NASCAR America
- Bottas leads as McLaren-Honda delayed on first day of Abu Dhabi test 1
- Steve Letarte reflects on Hendrick Motorsports career in “exit interview” (VIDEO) 3
- Weekend wrap: Lewis Hamilton back on top of the F1 mountain 4
- Maurizio Arrivabene replaces Marco Mattiacci as Ferrari team principal 4
- Abu Dhabi GP Paddock Notebook – Sunday 0
- Hamilton calls second title victory “the greatest day of my life” 3
- Hamilton clinches second F1 world title by winning Abu Dhabi GP 11