Driver: 'Time of month' could help Danica in NASCAR
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A fellow IRL driver says Danica Patrick has what it takes to succeed if she switches to the paint-swapping world of NASCAR and she's plenty aggressive in open-wheel racing when it's "the right time of the month."
Appearing in a telephone interview on ESPN2's Cold Pizza on Thursday, IRL driver Ed Carpenter offered to apologize to Danica Patrick for off-color comments he made about her.
"I made a joke, some people think it's funny. But I do need to apologize to Danica and any other woman who might have been offended," Carpenter said.
Patrick, a presenter at the ESPY Awards on Wednesday night, didn't take offense when informed of Carpenter's comments.
"Luckily, I think Danica understood it was a joke. Hopefully, all the other women will too," Carpenter said.
Ed Carpenter, who trails Patrick by four slots in the IRL IndyCar Series' points race, made the comment when asked how Patrick might handle NASCAR racing during a radio appearance to promote Saturday night's Firestone Indy 200.
"I think Danica's pretty aggressive in our cars," Carpenter said Wednesday on WGFX-FM in Nashville.
"I mean, you know especially if you catch her at the right time of the month, she might be trading plenty of paint out there," he said. "But I think she'll hold her own. Who's she's going to drive for is hard to say. I don't think she's leaving, so we'll see."
Carpenter later told The Associated Press he didn't mean to be disrespectful of Patrick by using a female stereotype.
He said he was trying to make the point that Patrick is competitive and already proven as a capable driver. He predicts she'll stay in the IndyCar Series.
"It's obvious when you're around her, she's very competitive," he said in a telephone interview afterward. "I think she has goals that she hasn't accomplished yet in the IRL Indy cars. That's going to want to make her stay."
Patrick, a presenter at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, didn't take offense when informed of Carpenter's comments.
"That sounds like a good joke to me, it's pretty funny to me," she said backstage. "No big deal. Ed is a really nice guy. There's no drama there. I think it's funny. I'm glad he's showing some personality."
There has been wide speculation that Patrick will switch leagues after her IRL contract ends this season. Her father was a guest of Roush Racing at Chicagoland Speedway for the Nextel Cup race last weekend.
Carpenter, who is married, drives for a team owned by his mother and her husband, Tony George -- chief executive officer of the Indy Racing League.
Patrick, who won three poles and was rookie of the year in 2005, ranks 12th in points this year, best on the Rahal-Letterman team.
"She's kind of leading the way for her team and putting up the best results for her team. She's going to get shoved around over there just because she's a girl, but I think she's going to be able to hold her own -- if she even goes over there," Carpenter said.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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