By admin | July 1, 2013
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 |