Being the first woman to notch up a pole – at the Daytona 500 of all places – NASCAR Sprint cup rookie Danica Patrick has brought a lot of attention to the sport.
However, this all comes with some skepticism and people who are doubtful if Patrick will ever become a dominant racer. One of these skeptics is Kyle Petty, the son of NASCAR legend Richard Petty.
On Thursday, former driver Kyle Petty appeared on SPEED’s NASCAR RaceHub program, where Patrick was referred to as a “marketing machine” and not a race car driver.
“Danica has been the perfect example of somebody who can qualify better than what she runs,” said Petty. “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.”
Interviewer Matt Clark then asked Petty why he believed Patrick won’t ever be a race car driver. Petty claimed it was “too late to learn.”
This does sound a little harsh as Patrick – in her first full year as Sprint Cup driver – has managed seven top 10 finishes in 60 career Nationwide Series races.
Kyle Petty did admit that he wasn’t the best driver himself. Looking back at his career it took him six years as a full-time Cup driver before he found Victory Road. In fact, out of 829 races, Petty finished his NASCAR career with eight wins and 173 top 10 finishes.
Apart from her NASCAR Daytona 500 pole, let’s consider what else Patrick has achieved. Before NASCAR, Patrick raced for seven years in the IZOD IndyCar Series, where she was the first woman to lead a lap at the Indianapolis 500. In 2008, she made history in Japan when she became the first woman to win an oval-track race in auto racing’s big leagues.
Is the focus on Patrick because she is a woman? How many other rookies have received such harsh words halfway through their first season racing in the Sprint Cup Series?
What do you think?
James Harris is a NASCAR writer for RantSports.com