Skip to content

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 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

Latest Posts
  1. FIA WEC: Toyota, Ferrari score top class poles at Silverstone

    Apr 19, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Toyota Getty Images

    Toyota takes the pole for Sunday’s FIA WEC opener in Silverstone.

  2. IMSA: New sponsors for Muehlner Motorsports America

    Apr 19, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT

    IMSA Daytona 24 Hours Auto Racing AP

    Couple new sponsors for GTD team within TUDOR Championship.

  3. Magnussen downbeat after poor qualifying display

    Apr 19, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Kevin Magnussen AP

    Danish driver can only manage P15, with teammate Jenson Button in 12th.

  4. Ricciardo gave his all, and is rewarded with front row start

    Apr 19, 2014, 7:45 AM EDT

    Daniel Ricciardo AP

    All smiles for Daniel after qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

  5. Williams combats wet weather woes in Shanghai

    Apr 19, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Qualifying Getty Images

    Massa and Bottas both make the top 10 despite wet conditions playing against them.

  6. Hamilton breaks 46-year-old British record for most poles

    Apr 19, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

    Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel AP

    Jim Clark’s record that has stood since 1968 has now been broken by Hamilton in China.

  7. Alonso upbeat about his chances in China (VIDEO)

    Apr 19, 2014, 5:15 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Qualifying Getty Images

    He might be down in 5th, but the Spaniard believes that a podium finish is well within Ferrari’s reach in China.

  8. What went wrong for Rosberg in qualifying? (VIDEO)

    Apr 19, 2014, 4:30 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Qualifying Getty Images

    P4 disappointing for the German driver, but where did it all go wrong for him?

  9. Lotus reaches top 10 for the first time in 2014 thanks to Grosjean

    Apr 19, 2014, 4:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Practice Getty Images

    Grosjean qualifies 10th to finally give the team something to smile about after a tough winter.

  10. Hamilton keeps his cool to claim pole for Chinese GP

    Apr 19, 2014, 3:04 AM EDT

    Mercedes Formula One driver Hamilton of Britain gestures while celebrating after taking pole position at qualifying session of Chinese F1 Grand Prix at Shanghai International circuit Reuters

    British driver secures wet weather pole in Shanghai ahead of Ricciardo and Vettel.

  11. WATCH LIVE: Rivals set to rain on Mercedes’ parade?

    Apr 19, 2014, 1:45 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Qualifying Getty Images

    Could Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel take advantage of the wet track to snatch pole position?

  12. FIA releases full findings in Red Bull fuel saga

    Apr 19, 2014, 12:45 AM EDT

    Ricciardo AP

    Report reveals that Red Bull failed to supply accurate data, and what was supplied actually undermined the team’s argument.

  13. Ricciardo fastest in rain-affected final practice in China

    Apr 19, 2014, 12:02 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Practice Getty Images

    Red Bull driver fastest in a quiet final session ahead of qualifying later today.

  14. NASCAR team owner Jack Roush talks possible Cup engine changes

    Apr 18, 2014, 8:32 PM EDT

    Zippo 200 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Significant modifications to the Cup cars’ powerplants are likely to come within the next two seasons.

  15. James Hinchcliffe says he’s good with Ryan Hunter-Reay after Long Beach crash

    Apr 18, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay AP

    The two Andretti Autosport drivers appear to have put Sunday’s wreck behind them.

  16. Sometimes, NASCAR media centers become comedy clubs (VIDEO)

    Apr 18, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    Matt Kenseth AP

    You can’t say these drivers don’t have a sense of humor.

  17. Formula E’s first two track layouts now revealed

    Apr 18, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    GERMANY-AUTOMOBILE-ECONOMY-FAIR-IAA Getty Images

    The second round of the championship in Putrajaya, Malaysia will see drivers contest a short, 1.6-mile street circuit.

  18. Transition back to IndyCar “still hard” for Juan Pablo Montoya

    Apr 18, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    Montoya Getty Images

    Two races into his return to open-wheel, the former Indy 500 winner says he’s having a tough time with re-learning tracks.

  19. It’s early yet, but keep these qualifying stats in mind for future IndyCar street races

    Apr 18, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Long-Beach-Lead Getty Images

    Here’s a look at the grid based on average qualifying positions through 2 races in 2014.

  20. IndyCar drivers mimic their cars, and it’s rather humorous (VIDEO)

    Apr 18, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Dixon Getty Images

    IndyCar drivers do their best “hey, this is what this sounds like!” imitations.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA

Featured video

Qualifying success: Hamilton, Ricciardo
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. McMurray (10007)
  2. K. Harvick (3835)
  3. M. McDowell (1971)
  4. A. Seuss (1633)
  5. C. Edwards (1323)

More from NASCAR America

The new faces of NASCAR