Petty made his comments during part III of his interview with Matt Clark for NASCAR on Fox/Speed, according to Lucky Dog.
According to Lucky Dog, Petty called Patrick a “marketing machine,” but said he had no problem with her having that role.
“She’s a hot commodity and rightfully so,” Petty said, per Lucky Dog. “In a market where everybody that crawls into a race car on a Sunday afternoon in Cup racing is male; she’s the female. I don’t have a problem with her being a marketing machine – more power to her.”
Petty recognized that Patrick is able to drive fast, but he says there’s a difference between being able to drive fast and being able to drive like a racer.
“She’s not a race car driver. There’s a difference. ‘The King’ (Richard Petty) always had that stupid saying, but it’s true, ‘Lots of drivers can drive fast, but very few drivers can race.’ Danica has been the perfect example of somebody who can qualify better than what she runs.
“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.”
Patrick is in her rookie season in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series and currently 27th in the standings. She has one top-10 finish in 16 races. Patrick has also run 60 races in the Nationwide Series and never won a race, though she did record seven top tens.
Petty might be right with his comments, but it’s probably too early to say that Patrick will never improve and get to the level about which Petty is speaking. Patrick has brought a lot of positive attention to the sport, and it’s not like she’s strictly there for marketing. If she couldn’t drive, she wouldn’t be able to finish 13th like she did two weeks ago.
Petty ran 829 Sprint Cup races during his lengthy career. He captured eight checkered flags on the circuit. And now he’s captured the ire of Patrick.