Richard Petty doubts Patrick’s ability to win
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AP) — NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Richard Petty says Danica Patrick can win a race only “if everybody else stayed home.”
The seven-time champion made the comment during a Sunday appearance at the Canadian Motorsports Expo in Toronto, according to the website wheels.ca.
Petty also said Patrick gets attention only because she’s a woman, but added that publicity was good for NASCAR.
“If she’d have been a male, nobody would ever know if she’d showed up at a racetrack,” Petty said, according to the website. “This is a female deal that’s driving her. There’s nothing wrong with that, because that’s good PR for me. More fans come out, people are more interested in it. She has helped to draw attention to the sport, which helps everybody in the sport.”
Petty still maintains partial control of Richard Petty Motorsports, which fields cars for Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola in the Sprint Cup Series.
Patrick is headed to Daytona International Speedway this week to begin her second full season at NASCAR’s top level. She became the first woman a year ago to win the top starting spot for the Daytona 500 and she finished eighth.
It was Patrick’s best finish during a rough rookie year in which she was 27th in the final standings.
A year ago, Petty’s son, Kyle, called Patrick a “marketing machine” and “not a race car driver.” Kyle Petty is a former driver and current television analyst.
Patrick dismissed Kyle Petty’s comments at the time, and she was defended by her team co-owner Tony Stewart, the three-time NASCAR champion.