A few days ago, NASCAR legend Richard Petty made news in the southern states when somebody asked him if Danica Patrick was capable of winning a Sprint Cup race, and he said only “if everybody else stayed home.”
“If she’d had been a male, nobody would ever know if she showed up at a racetrack,” said the man with the pencil-thin mustache they call The King.
“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 was just The King being honest, one supposes. Honesty is refreshing in NASCAR, because when the drivers were asked about these new rule changes today, and how the championship will come down to a one-race shootout among four drivers, nearly all of them said they liked these new rule changes — which is not exactly what they were saying when they were announced.
Also, when Danica was asked about being disparaged by Richard Petty, she did not disparage him back, even though that is accepted in NASCAR. Unless, of course, one disparages Dale Earnhardt Jr., with one’s front bumper, in which case it is not accepted, and you get sent to the NASCAR hauler.
“You know, people have said things in the past, and they’re going to say things in the future,” said Patrick, who finished 27th in points last year, her first full-time Cup season. “I still say the same thing: that everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. People are going to judge what he said, whether they judge it well or not, and I’m just not going to.
“The people that matter the most to me are my team, my sponsors, you know, those little 3-year-old kids that run up to you and want a great big hug and say they want to grow up to be like you. That’s the stuff that I really focus on.”
If this were “Family Feud,” somebody would have said “Good answer!”
Patrick startled the stock car community by winning the pole position for last year’s Daytona 500 and running up front most of the race before finishing eighth.
She told the media she has a picture of Richard Petty standing by her car by the pole, giving her two thumbs up. She said she could probably dig up that photo if anybody wanted to see it.