Win would solidify racing credentials
Nothing could win over the petty Pettys
As a target, Richard Petty is a big, fat, hanging softball compared to Danica Patrick. So his contention that she will never win a race in the Sprint Cup Series, should not be given the smallest shred of weight because clearly he is unwilling to be objective.
The argument is whether Patrick will have to win a title before people stop doubting her credibility, and that has been made pretty clear by now as Petty is hardly the only one to have done it, some even semi-intelligently.
While it was never really fair to mention Patrick's name in the same sentence with Anna Kournikova, the point was an obvious one.
Before Kournikova retired from tennis at age 21 with serious back problems, she was one of the best doubles players in the world, winning two Grand Slam titles, and was ranked as high as No. 8 in singles. But she never won a WTA singles title and because her commercial (read sex) appeal outweighed her performance, that made her a joke.
Worse, in the eyes of detractors, she was never ashamed of the attention showered upon her, which is not unlike Patrick, who has more than paid her dues in her sport. As Patrick told me in a 2007 interview for the Chicago Tribune, when she was still racing IndyCar (and won, by the way, the 2008 IndyJapan 300), she knew fame had its price.
"I've gotten some negative stuff, but what makes us go is our sponsorship and I definitely have an edge as a female when it comes to marketing."
Moving to NASCAR, Patrick has had her moments, most notably last year at the Daytona 500 when she became the first woman to ever win a pole position in a Sprint Cup race.
It's likely a win -- and she is capable -- still won't draw admiration from the Petty family, But it will go a long way in giving her career credibility, whether she ultimately gives a hoot or not.
Dusty ole race car driver Richard Petty came out and took a swipe at Danica Patrick. I'm sure she won't lose much sleep over it, given that the drivers who haven't come out and said something like that to the boys in the media have probably said it behind her back. Or maybe to her face.
Demographically, Patrick is in a conservative sport. At least that's the way Petty sees it. He ran for North Carolina's Secretary of State in 1996 and in 2012 -- during a campaign event for Mitt Romney -- joked to USA Today that he used to tell segregationist Senator Jesse Helms that Helms was liberal by comparison.
Petty seems pretty set in his opinions, and one of them is that racing is no place for a woman. His latest comments are merely another iteration of his misogynistic view.
If Patrick won one race, do you think it would really get a "You go Girl!" out of Petty?
Whatever. Patrick won't win over the petty Pettys of the world. If she wins, they will claim her lightweight frame gives her an advantage, which has been another weird issue throughout her career.
Bringing doubters into her camp really shouldn't be her focus, either. Patrick is an excellent driver, and her performance stands on its own. If she were male, it's doubtful her career would be held to that standard in order to be declared worth continuing.
So let's give him the last word.
"That's the advantage of living in the United States," Petty told USA Today. "Everybody has got their own opinions, and I welcome that. I think that's great, and that's what is good about the country."