Patrick Reacts to Petty's Comments
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on February 13, 2014 | 8:40 A.M. EST
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Danica Patrick brushed aside Richard Petty’s comments about her chances of winning as quickly as she won the pole for last year’s Daytona 500.
Petty stirred fans when he said last week that the only way Patrick would win a NASCAR race was “if everybody else stayed home.’’
Petty’s comments were reported by Wheels.ca in an interview at the Canadian Motorsports Expo in Toronto.
“Everybody is entitled to their own opinion,’’ she said. “I still believe that. That’s what makes sports and journalism great is that everybody has their own opinion. The things that I focus on is when a young kid runs up to you and wants to hug you or the ones that are so shy that don’t know what to say or the ones who say they want to grow up and be like you. I feed off that.’’
She also admits her chances of winning the Daytona 500 could be better than at most other tracks.
“I would think for two reasons that my team builds great speedway cars and because I feel very comfortable and this is much more familiar to me than the rest of the racing in a stock car because you’re taking the elements of learning how the car reacts to like how the bump stops works, how the bar wrap works, how different spring packages work,'' Patrick said. "That’s not a concern on the speedway. It’s just about navigating the cars around you, drafting and your mindset throughout the whole thing, you’re discipline. I feel like it could definitely happen. I’m going to try to win the Unlimited race, then I can be in it forever."
Patrick then added: "I'm giving it my all every single time I get in the car.''
Petty did say in the interview that Patrick has been good for the sport.
“If she’d have been a male, nobody would ever know if she’d showed up at a racetrack,” Petty said, according to Wheels.ca. “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.”
This isn’t the first time a member of the Petty family has been critical of Patrick.
Last year, Kyle Petty called Patrick a “marketing machine” and “not a racecar driver.’’ He made those comments on “NASCAR Race Hub” and on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
“That’s where I have a problem,’’ Petty said on the TV show, now seen on Fox Sports 1. “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.’’
Patrick dismissed his comments.
"I just think it's funny how he said I can qualify and I can't race,” Patrick said of Kyle Petty’s comments. “Those of you who actually watch what I do know I can't qualify for crap and in the race things go much better. It's a little bit funny. The most important thing to me is I can keep my team happy, we're going in the right direction.''
As for the criticism, Patrick said in June: “I really don’t care. It’s true that there are plenty of people who say bad things about me. I read them. At the end of the day, you get over that stuff and trust that you are doing a good job.’’