DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Richard Petty stood by his comments that Danica Patrick can’t win a Cup race, and the Hall of Famer said it was unfair he has been labeled a sexist.
Petty, the seven-time champion, took some heat when he said Patrick only gets attention because she’s a woman, but added that publicity is good for NASCAR. He said the only way Patrick, the first woman to win the Daytona 500 pole, could win a Sprint Cup race was “if everybody else stayed home.”
Petty said Saturday night that no one would make a fuss about his remarks if he was talking about a male driver.
“What’s unfair is the sexist part,” Petty said at Daytona International Speedway. “If her name had been Danny, OK, nobody would have said anything about it. So y’all are bringing up the sexist part of it, not me.”
NASCAR’s career victory leader, Petty added, “It was definitely not sexist, OK? Hey look, I’ve been married 55 years to the same woman. So I am not a sexist by any ways. I love women.”
Patrick declined to fire back at Petty during Daytona 500 media day, politely stating that he was entitled to his opinion.
Petty said he would not curb his comments in the future and become politically correct for the sake of the sport. He also said there was little buzz heading into the Daytona 500 until his comments fueled interest in the “Great American Race.”
“Look at all the publicity NASCAR got and she got just for one little comment,” Petty said.
Petty said at the Canadian Motorsports Expo in Toronto that Patrick did put NASCAR in the media spotlight.
“If she’d have been a male, nobody would ever know if she’d showed up at a racetrack,” Petty said. “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.”
Given chances to clarify his comments, The King only dug in Saturday and refused to back down.
“What I said is what I said and that’s what I believe, OK?” he said.