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Will Danica win? Richard Petty: “If everybody else stayed home”

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The NASCAR Sprint Cup season for 2014 hasn’t even started yet and already the Danica Patrick Experiment is being challenged. And challenged by not just anybody but the ‘King’ himself, Richard Petty.

Petty, who actually started his career with a race in Canada, was at a question and answer appearance at the Canadian Motorsports Expo. Richard was asked if Patrick, the former open wheel driver and sophomore driver this year for Stewart-Haas Racing, could ever be victorious in Sprint Cup series. Petty matter-of-factly answered,

“If everybody else stayed home.”

Ouch! More than likely the greatest driver to ever suit up behind the wheel of a stock car, Petty as a long time driver and now car-owner has seen it all and knows what it takes to win in NASCAR. And he wasn’t done. He also said,

“If she’d have been a male, nobody would ever know if she’d showed up at a race track.”

Good for sport

Say what you really mean, Richard. Nevertheless, Petty does like the idea of Patrick being involved with NASCAR because of the notoriety and extra fans she brings to the sport plus he realizes it’s all about the show saying,

“She has helped to draw attention to the sport, which helps everybody in the sport.”

There will be more scrutiny than ever before being sent Danica Patrick’s way in 2014 because it’s her second full season and she has yet to show the ability to be competitive, let alone win races - not that she didn’t have successes last year. She started on the pole of the Daytona 500, making history as the first and only female to ever achieve the feat and then went on to finish with a Top 10 in that first event of the season.

Still, her season, in which she ended up 27th overall, appeared to be on a downward slide once she had a second chance or third chance visiting some of the tracks. Patrick struggled mightily just to finish inside the Top 20; in fact, she achieved that mark only once over the entire second half of the season (18 events).

Great teammates might help

Stewart-Haas Racing has an all-star lineup on the team as a whole with Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and, of course, Tony Stewart surrounding the 31 year old Patrick, which ought to help her improve in 2014. Also, as long as Danica’s sponsor, GoDaddy is happy with the marketing and exposure she provides, she should have a ride for little while longer.

Many have argued that Patrick is nothing more than a marketing phenom known more for her prowess in business circles and off the track than any accomplishments on the track. Whether that’s true or not is debatable, but it appears after this latest shot across the bow by the King, the pressure will certainly be cranked up for Danica Patrick to finally perform … or will it? What do you think?

Source: Toronto Star, NASCAR



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