There is a certain sect of the racing community that will probably never take Danica Patrick seriously. Whether it’s because she’s a woman or for her lack of results on the track is legitimately up for debate, but either way, count former driver and current commentator Kyle Petty among them.
Petty recently sat down for a lengthy interview with Fox Speed, and in it he question Patrick’s role in NASCAR.
“I’ve said it from the very beginning, she’s just a marketing machine,” Petty said. “She’s a hot commodity and rightfully so. In a market where everybody that crawls into a race car on a Sunday afternoon in Cup racing is male, she’s the female. I don’t have a problem with her being a marketing machine — more power to her.”
Petty, despite just eight wins in 884 career starts between the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, then went on to specifically question Patrick’s ability behind the wheel. Petty implied that Patrick doesn’t really have the same ability of some of her competitors. She has zero wins and one top-10 finish in her NASCAR career, although she is 27th in this year’s point standings, ahead of 2013 Aaron’s 499 winner David Ragan and former Winston Cup champ Bobby Labonte.
“Where fans have bought into the hype of the marketing, to think she’s a race car driver,” Petty said. “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 race car 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 race car driver. And I don’t think she’s ever going to be a race car driver.”
Unfortunately, Petty retired from racing in 2008 to do commentating work, so the two won’t get a chance to settle the issue on the track.