Richard Petty doesn't believe in Danica Patrick's racing acumen.
The 76-year-old, a seven-time NASCAR series champion, didn't pull any punches when asked if Patrick would ever win a Sprint Cup race.
“[Only] if everybody else stayed home,” Petty told reporters on Sunday at the Canadian Motorsports Expo in Toronto. “If she’d have been a male, nobody would ever know if she’d showed up at a race track. 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.”
Patrick finished 27th in the standings last season — her rookie year — and her best finish came at Daytona, where she finished eighth after being the first woman to start from the pole position. It was her only top-10 finish in 46 Sprint Cup races.
“When NASCAR Cup racing first started, it was racing,” Petty said. “Over a period of years, with our sponsorships, what we had to do for TV, to get the fans to come, the first thing you know is that the race is secondary, because all the rest of it is buildup, buildup, buildup.
Patrick finished third in the 2009 Indy 500, the best finish for a woman. Petty won 200 races in his 35-year career.ESTES: Best and worsts of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season