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Kyle Petty is right about Danica until she proves otherwise

By admin | July 1, 2013

 Is Danica Patrick a race car driver or a marketing machine?

By Richard Allen

Former NASCAR driver and current television analyst Kyle Petty caused quite a stir last week when he took on the topic of Danica Patrick. The son of Hall of Fame driver Richard Petty has never been shy about voicing his opinions and seems to thrive on inciting fans, other media members and even current racers.

“Danica has been the perfect example of somebody who can qualify better than what she runs,” Petty declared. “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.”

If incitement was the goal of the winner of eight Sprint Cup events, he succeeded.

Petty’s statements caused quite an uproar and spurred others to come to Danica’s defense. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was among those who disputed what was said.

“I have to disagree with Kyle,” Junior stated. “I think she’s a tough competitor. She works really hard at what she does and she has run some really good races. On every occasion, she’s outrunning several guys on the circuit.

“If she was not able to compete or not able to run minimum speed or finishing in last place every week, I think you might be able to say Kyle has an argument. But she’s out there running competitively and running strong on several accounts.”

Danica herself responded as well. “I really don’t care,” the female driver said. “I don’t. It’s true there are plenty of people who say really bad things about me. I hear about them or I read them or I read them on Twitter. People want me to die. At the end of the day, you just get over that kind of stuff. All you can do is trust that you’re doing a good job and that’s all that matters and the people around you believe in you.”

However, the simple truth is that Kyle Petty is more right than some may want to give him credit for. Danica has been given top equipment throughout the majority of her career and has done little with it.

Over the course of her years in racing, this is a driver who has brought high dollar sponsorship with her but few results outside of souvenir sales and huge amounts of hype. So far in her first full year in Sprint Cup while driving for Stewart-Haas Racing, Danica has managed a pole for the Daytona 500 that was followed by an 8th place finish… and that’s about it.

She did score one of the most celebrated 12th place finishes of all time at Martinsville earlier this year. But beyond that, she has placed 25th or worse twelve times in 17 races. She currently ranks 27th in the Sprint Cup standings.

In her Nationwide career driving primarily for Hendrick Motorsports supported JR Motorsports, Danica has so far managed a single top-5 and seven top-10s in 60 starts.

If the argument is made that this driver’s experience level hasn’t yet reached the point at which she can be competitive, look at the numbers she compiled while racing on the IndyCar circuit. There, she managed one win and seven podium finishes in 115 starts. She led a total of 124 laps out of more than 17,000 she completed.

The point of offering those IndyCar statistics is to show that there never was a drastic improvement in her time on that circuit.

Just for the sake of comparison, Regan Smith is driving in his first year for JR Motorsports on the Nationwide Series in 2013, just as Danica did last year. He has so far scored two wins, four top-5s and 11 top-10s while she achieved only four top-10s all season in 2012. Smith currently leads the Nationwide Series standings.

Almost every piece written on Danica that offers comparisons such as the one above seems to meet with responses of how unfair those comparisons are for whatever reason. At some point, the comparisons have to become fair.

The best way for Danica and her supporters to prove Petty wrong is for her to have success on the track and not just as a ”marketing machine”. Until that happens, Kyle Petty was correct in saying what he said.

Please vote on the poll question about Danica Patrick on the right side of the page—->


Topics: Articles |

26 Responses to “Kyle Petty is right about Danica until she proves otherwise”

  1. Ken Says:
    July 1st, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Kyle Petty did not say anything that wasn’t true, and he has no reason to apologize. What I would like to see, is give me just one single race, and remove Danica from the car and put another female driver in there. Yes, I am talking about Johanna Long! Just one race is all I ask! Then we will see which female driver actually has talent!

    Here is a thought about Danica being moved up to the Cup series as fast as she was. If you look at the stats from the 2012 Nationwide season, Miss Long was constantly placing ahead of Danica in the finishing order, and doing so with far less funding and inferior equipment compared to what Danica Patrick has been given. Was Danica moved up so people wouldn’t notice and she wouldn’t be so embarrassed?

  2. Russ Says:
    July 1st, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    While I think kyle Petty was exactly right I think the very argument confires her legitimatancy.
    To my mind she is no differance between Danica and those who are in the sport not because of talent, but either family money or family connecions in the racing business. Interesting that those people don’t seem to incite the same negitive reactions.

  3. Jtrat Says:
    July 1st, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    I voted yes she will win a race. After all Kyle Petty won eight and I doubt he was that much better. I am not a Danika fan but Petty is out of his league criticizing anyone that can hold onto a seat.

  4. Benjamin P. Glaser Says:
    July 1st, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Kyle could have done a lot more in a race car, but he sacrificed the majority of his career helping his dad’s operation.

  5. Steven Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 1:09 am

    It’s funny that some people want to kill the messenger. I have watched her ride around in first class equipment for years now and haven’t seen much other than a barely mediocre individual who cannot race with the big boys. So if a guy drops a pass in the Superbowl I have no right to criticise him because I’m not in the Hall of Fame? Please, get a clue. Thanks Richard for rolling this out.

  6. Sully Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 1:31 am

    What the Kool Aid drinkers seem to miss in bashing “the haters”. Danica’s gender should not be an issue, but it is the issue that overshadows everything. If we were really treating her like all the other male drivers out there, her constant 25 placed position and back would not merit a word. Male drivers in that situation don’t, why her? Of course JR is going to say what he said or any other driver for that matter, can you image the hell to pay (and we have seen it) if these drivers actually said in public what everybody with a half a brain already knows. Kyle is correct, he wasn’t biased or mean spirited, he was a voice for us very long term devoted Nascar fans that cannot stand to see what the sport has become. Put Johanna Long in the car if you feel you need a women for the sake of diversity, which is a really bad way of thinking by the way. Earn it. I don’t like annoucers every week hyping her when my eyes see different. They are losing fans because of her, if they want the Kardashian like people with 15 minute attention spans, then they are getting their wish, in the long run, bad news. Her ego knows no bounds so it is not suprising she never turns down and interview, she courts it and they like it. I could care less if she is a women, talent is always appreciated. If she were a male, the press on her would be insanely horrible, too bad she isn’t.

  7. Sully Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 1:38 am

    And what the heck does it matter what Kyle did or did not do in a race car? Her stats are speaking. His so far is superior to hers, why should it matter anyhow? It was a critical and accurate statement. The insane nasty stuff that has reined down on him is to me showing the sad state of affairs this country is in, nobody knows how to have a civil debate anymore, goes to lack of good education and common sense. So with those skill set(s) gone, most take the easy way out..attack the messenger and don’t ever give up, classic tactic to take away the point at hand…she isn’t up to the hype and never will be.

  8. Edward Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 1:52 am

    Richard! Richard! Richard! Don’t you know you shouldn’t bring logic into this discussion? How dare you?! How dare you not follow blindly the suckers who shovel up greedily what they are being told without question? What kind of person are you?

    Sarcasm aside, I totally agree with you and Kyle. Sadly, Princess Sparkle Pony’s supporters don’t want to see reality. They wish to believe what they wish to believe, and woe be anyone who doesn’t drink their Kool-Aid. Thankfully, there are some smart people who have the guts to say what needs to be said.

  9. RacingFan Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 2:21 am

    This has been pointed out many times before, but the greatest announcers/commentators were not often the greatest drivers and vice verse. I listened to Richard, Pearson, Earnhardt (Sr), and others in the booth. They were nothing special there. Other who were not superstars like those 3, but were good drivers, like Benny Parsons, I thought were great announcers. Ned Jarret was great in both places. Darrel Waltrip was a great driver, but his talent as a commentator is debatable.

    The point I am making is that Petty’s comments should be debated on their validity, not his success, or lack of it, as a racer. I greatly liked and respected Chris Economaki, but not for his driving.

  10. Nick Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 5:48 am

    Amazing how many clueless writers there are out there, TV commentators true.

    Is Danica the best driver in the world? Not by a longshot. But I love how they always say that she’s in the best equipment and does nothing with it. So, so, so not true. Where is Tony Stewart or Ryan Newman running every week?? Midpack!!! If not worse. Danica finished what, just 3 spots behind Tony this week. And he’s a multi-time champion in the sport and barely outrunning a ROOKIE! Sure, she’s made some mistakes, as is expected of any rookie and wrecked out of a few races, hence the large difference in points as Tony and Newman have the experience to not make those same mistakes. Bottom line is, Stewart/Haas racing sucks this year and has not been the same since Tony fired Darian Grubb after winning a championship for them.

    Look at it further, and go back to her Indy Car career. Andretti Motorsports is NOW one of the premier teams and has always had the funding, but up until last year, they were not all that great either. They were far behind Penske and Ganassi. When you watched her race, she was very often the best running Andretti team driver. Bottom line is, she did very well for the equipment she was in, which was not that great while she was there. Andretti just recently got things figured out and Ryan Hunter Rey is showcasing that.

    Racing is not easy. There can only be ONE winner out of 43 in Nascar and 25 or so in Indy Car. That means everything has to go perfect to actually win a race, for ANY driver. She did finish second several times in IndyCar. Think about that, just one spot away from possibly winning multiple races. Who did she finish second to each time?, the superior teams of Penske and Ganassi.

    I’ve watched most of her career and root for her, not because she’s a female, but because I root for the underdogs. I root for the old guys to have that last bit of glory before they retire. The rookies, still figuring it out. As a fan of her for that reason, I’ve been disappointed that her teams never have been the best of the best while she was driving for them. Even Junior Motorsports was not very strong in the Nationwide series when she ran for them. Her first part time year, they were pretty good and she had a top five finish. But she was a raw rookie to Stock cars of any kind and naturally made a lot of mistakes. But in only 12 races, she did score a top 5 and three top 10’s when the team was decent. The fell behind with their ancient crew chief who still did things the old school way and wanted to take no help from Hendrick Motorsports, which is ultimately why he was fired last year. And the team has improved this year.

    So, while she is a rookie in the cup series, she has A LOT to learn. She is only 6 points behind her fellow Rookie competitor and boyfriend in the Rookie standings and he’s in very good equipment that is actually running well. He’s the worst finishing driver on that team most weeks, but nobody is saying how bad he is. His team is far more caught up in terms of setup than Stewart/Haas is right now and he’s barely beating her in the Rookie Standings.

    And finally, other than Tony Stewart, who sucked in Nationwide, but excelled in the Cup cars, no Indy Car driver has come over to Nascar and had much success. Look at Sam Hornish who dominated Indy Car in Penske’s top equipment, he sucked in Nascar for 4-5 years. He’s just now starting to get better, but still can’t keep up with his teammates in the Nationwide series whenever they put Kesolowski or Logano in the other car. And he’s had 4-5 years to figure it out and still hasn’t completely gotten it figured out, other than a couple of races here and there.

    If Stewart/Haas gets their stuff figured out any time soon, I think Danica would be consistently running in the top 20 rather than 23rd to 28th every week now. Give her another year or two to get really comfortable with the beasts that are Cup Cars and I think she’ll be a solid 8th to 15th place driver every week. That would be very respectable. If she runs there every week, then she’ll be in position to capitalize on a few top 5’s here and there and even a win if all of the stars line up.

    Bottom line, she’s a rookie and needs time.

    It is funny how her average finish this year is better than Kyle Petty’s average finish in 8 of his final 13 years of racing!!!!

  11. Sue Rarick Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 6:09 am

    My dad was a professional ballplayer and always said the best managers had been middle of the road players and they had to learn the techniques of playing. The superstars had so much natural talent they didn’t know the techniques, they just did it.

    Likewise a journeyman driver had to learn all the techniques where a driving great just drove.

  12. Lydia Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Aahhh.. The fact this “debate” is even an issue is sad…I don’t get why Petty..or anyone thought it was ok to bash Patrick..or any race car driver who is trying to make some kind of mark in their chosen profession. To my knowledge Patrick has not picked apart Petty’s career..nor has she said she was a great driver. To me all this is mute..when Patrick has been in Cup as long as Petty was..or she retires from the sport…then the Petty/Patrick comparison will have some validity..but for now it’s just sour milk! Petty complains constantly about all the “press” Patricks receives…and then he goes and throws this big bombshell out there which has been the big topic in ALL media for the last week! Talk about a media “windfall” for the Patrick camp…so how’s that working for you Petty??!!

  13. Jim Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 7:50 am

    Princess Trick Pony, nuff said.

  14. Terry T Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 8:08 am

    If we want a driver’s assessment of Danica’s true talent we ought to ask David Reutimann or Travis Kvapil or Casey Mears because that’s who she is usually racing with.

  15. Tony Geinzer Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Rich, I don’t like having to call this spade a spade, but, how many wins has Danica earned in any 1st Division Race: 1. How many Wins has she earned on American Soil: Jimmy Jack Jackson! Frankly, I would love to see Twin Racing Everywhere where David Reutimann or Bobby LaBonte would have to repeat proof vs. Danica, Travis, or Speedsters.

  16. Larry Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 9:19 am

    I have never been a fan of Kyle but he was pretty much right on Danica. Her stats speak for their self in Indy Car and Nascar. And, even Kyle has won eight cup races. I have serious doubts that Danica will ever do that. And remember, Danica is in Hendrick Equipment-Chassis, engines, etc. probably a lot better equipment than Kyle was in. I believe Stenhouse in his first year in cup is doing better than her and I don’t believe Stenhouse’s equipment is as good as hers. Sure, if she races long enough she may eventually win a few races but I don’t think she ever will be a week in and week out contender in Nascar.

  17. Larry Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 9:26 am

    As a matter of fact Stenhouse is ranked #20 in points and Danica is #27th. Even Hamlin who missed four races is ranked #25th. Not a good number for her any way you look at it.

  18. Bill B Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Let’s all just settle down. The thing we can all agree on is that statistically she sucks and based on those sucky stats she has been overhyped. Truly a suckerama queen.
    She isn’t the first cup driver that has sucked and made a career of it and she won’t be the last driver that sucks. What’s changed is the amount of hype she receives despite her propensity to suck.
    If the hype went away and the media left her alone, fans would back off and allow her to wallow in her own suckyness as she quietly ran at the back of the field continuing to suck.
    While the Princess Sparkle Pony moniker is cute I think she should be known as “The Suckinator”.
    I have to admit that I really enjoyed posting this comments and seeing how many times I could work the word “suck” and how many variations of the word “suck” I could come up with.
    Let’s see if anyone can do better.

  19. GinaV24 Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Sully, I agree with you! Are we debating gender or talent?

    She was with a well-funded, well-managed team in Indycar and won 1 race. She’s been with well-funded teams throughout her learning curve in NASCAR and well, she’s doing OK, but with all the hype, let’s face it, expectations haven’t been met.

    I, too, would like to see what Johanna Long could do with the same equipment (and not just judging off of one race).

    Personally I don’t think Kyle’s comments were wrong.

  20. Tyler West Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Kyle is 100% right! He said nothing but the truth! She has gotten every where on her looks, that is true. If she was not attractive she would have never gotten a shot in any of the big leagues. Her “talent” has not got her as far as her looks have. Truth is, she SUCKS!! She has no idea what the hell it takes to win. Kyle was honest in everything he said, that also includes his comments about himself. She is an over hyped flop. What really surprises me is just how stupid GoDaddy execs are for footing the bill on mediocrity. But also, the talking heads of Nascar have gone way out of their way to blow smoke up her butt, but we new that was coming. She deserves all the scrutiny she gets because she is a back marker in good equipment. Keep telling the truth Kyle.

  21. Offkilter Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Nick, Very nice post. I was thinking the same thing about SHR this year and JR motordports the past couple of years while she was there. Also the fact that not many open wheel guys can transpose their success over to nascar is a very good point. Personally, I’d like to see her do well. So what if she is cup racing mainly because of Go Daddy. It’s the way the business of nascar is run. If the anti- Danica folks are really truely bent out of shape for that reason, then they should go watch the slim to nill sponsored bomber and 4 cylinder pony class at the local track and stop fretting over Danica and their perception of her talent level. I think she is good for nascar.

  22. Overra88ted Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    If Kyle Petty would have had the ridiculous RAD (AERO)/DEI (HP) advantage Dale Jr. and Mikey Waltrip had from 2001 thru early 2004, Kyle would have at least 10 more wins from plate races. Don’t believe me? Exactly how many Cup plate races have Dale Jr. and Mikey Waltrip combined to win since 2004? Can you hear the Crickets are chirping?

  23. Gregory D. Howe Says:
    July 3rd, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Why has this story taken on a life of its own when Kyle said the same thing about three years ago? While St. Patrick may win a restrictor plate race, it’s probably her only shot at victory other than some sort of random rain/strategy upset engineered by her capable crew chief (can you say Motegi).

    Just look at what Hinchcliffe has done in the Go Daddy Indy car, in which St. Patrick languished for so many a season. Despite her mediocre performance the number of folks in her RIR autograph line far eclipsed the number for Sam Hornish and Helio Castroneves, two Indy 500 Champions!
    Sex sells, but I ain’t buyin’ it, and empty barrels make the most noise.

  24. midasmicah Says:
    July 4th, 2013 at 10:22 am

    I would also love Johanna Long get a fair shot in nas$car with better equipment. She’s actually worked her up the ladder without much funding. Sparkle pony is all hat and no cattle. I whole heartedly agree with Kyle Petty.

  25. Chris Fiegler Says:
    July 5th, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    What do you guys think of Kyle Petty as a Racer? I do not think that his Son Adam is a Racer. Look what Danica did in the Daytona 500, Martinsville,& Michigan 8th in the Daytona 500 12th at Martinsville , 13th at Michigan in the Quicken Loans 400. & You Call her not a Racer.

  26. RacingFan Says:
    July 6th, 2013 at 11:47 am

    It is too bad that the driver weight advantage was debated at Daytona earlier this year and then forgotten. It doesn’t have much of an effect at the tracks where you can drive with the gas pedal to the floor all the way around the track.

    NASCAR makes you add the weight back for any driver under 180 pounds, down to 140 pounds, so 40 pounds added is the maximum. But, Danica weighs 110, so she gets to have her total overall car weight with her in it 30 pounds less than many if not most of the drivers. Other drivers also do benefit, such as Mark Martin, who weighs 125 and gains a 15 pound advantage.

    Possibly the hinge flap controversy was caused by substituting hinges 3 ounces lighter than regulation to gain a weight advantage on the roof. Also, ask any crew chief how much work and money they would be willing to spend to remove 30 pounds from their car, especially at the height of the center of gravity of the driver. Probably most of them have gone through their cars trying to shed every ounce of unnecessary weight from every piece.

    NASCAR ought to fix this rule now. Every car ought to weigh the same with the driver in it. What logic is there to stopping at 140 pounds?