Kyle Petty: Danica 'Not a Racecar Driver'
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on June 28, 2013 | 11:03 A.M. EST
While Kyle Petty says Danica Patrick has brought more attnetion to the sport, he questions her ability as a driver. (Photo Getty Images)
Former NASCAR driver Kyle Petty says Danica Patrick is “a marketing machine’’ and “not a race car driver.’’
Petty, an analyst for TNT and Speed Channel made his comments this week in an interview with Matt Clark on Speed Channel’s “NASCAR Race Hub’’ and on SiriusXM NASCAR’s “The Morning Drive’’ on Friday.\
Asked about Patrick, a rookie in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season, Petty said on Speed’s show: “I’ve said it from the very beginning; she’s just a marketing machine.’’
Wednesday, Forbes named Patrick to its Celebrity 100 list, a ranking of the most powerful celebrities in the world. Patrick was listed as 91st on a list led by Oprah Winfrey. Forbes noted that Patrick’s performance in the Daytona 500 helped spike TV ratings for that race 24 percent from the previous year. She was most recently on the list in 2011 when she ranked 96th. No other NASCAR driver is on that list.
As for Patrick the driver, Petty didn’t hold back.
“That’s where I have a problem,’’ Petty said on the Speed Channel show. “Where fans have bought into the hype of the marketing, to think she’s a race car driver. She can go fast, and I’ve seen her go fast. She drives the wheels off it when she goes fast. She’s not a racecar driver. There’s a difference. ‘The King’ (Richard Petty) always had that stupid saying, but it’s true, ‘Lots of drivers can drive fast, but very few drivers can race.’ Danica has been the perfect example of somebody who can qualify better than what she runs.
“She can go fast, but she can’t race. I think she’s come a long way, but she’s still not a racecar driver. And I don’t think she’s ever going to be a race car driver. Because I think it’s too late to learn.’’
Patrick heads into Saturday night’s race at Kentucky Speedway 27th in the point standings. She has one top-10 finish, an eighth in the Daytona 500, and has started inside the top 20 once, winning the pole for the Daytona 500. Her average starting spot is 32.0 and her average finishing position is 25.8.
“Quick synopsis is she has been incredible to the sport, brought a lot of attention to the sport, has brought a lot of eyes to the sport but has not changed the sport one iota on the race track,’’ Petty said on SiriusXM NASCAR. “She hasn’t done anything.’’