By admin | February 20, 2014
*I realize this blog may seem a bit late but an illness that led to a four day stay in the hospital prevented me from commenting earlier. That said, there was no way I was going to let something like this situation go without posting my thought.
By Richard Allen
NASCAR has evolved itself into a sponsor-pleasing, politically correct sport in which its personalities seem to go out of their way to say all the “right” things in the most boring of ways. As a result, those personalities are often criticized for their lack of opinion and avoidance of controversy. But when someone does dare to offer an opinion that might not fit with the standard “company line”, the speaker is often chastised and labeled by the media and others.
Such has proven to be the case with Richard Petty’s recent comments regarding Danica Patrick.
During an appearance at the Canadian Motorsports Expo earlier in February, Petty was asked if he thought Patrick would ever win a Sprint Cup race. “If everybody else stayed home,” Petty responded. “If she’d been male, nobody would ever know if she’d showed up at a racetrack.
“This is a female deal that’s driving her. There’s nothing wrong with that, because that’s good PR for me. More fans come out, people are more interested in it. She has helped draw attention to the sport, which helps everybody in the sport.”
Based on Patrick’s career so far in NASCAR, what is wrong with that statement? She has one pole and one top-10 finish(both in the 2013 Daytona 500) in 46 career Sprint Cup starts. Along with that, she posted only seven top-10s in 60 Nationwide Series starts prior to coming into Sprint Cup racing. All of that driving in equipment supplied and supported by Stewart-Haas Racing and JR Motorsports, which are both closely allied with powerful Hendrick Motorsports.
Is there anyone out there who believes a male driver with the same credentials would be getting the same amount of attention Danica gets?
To prove Petty’s point, David Ragan finished 28th in the Sprint Cup standings last season compared to Danica’s 27th. One key difference is that Ragan actually won a race in 2013. How many pre-race and mid-week magazine show special reports on the networks that cover NASCAR was he the subject of? How many times were we told of his relationship with his significant other?
The truth of the matter is that Danica Patrick is a product of television marketing. When asked about it, Richard Petty dared to tell the truth. And in a time when NASCAR personalities are so often chastised for not saying what they really think, he was then labeled as a sexist for it.
Petty did not say women should not be involved in NASCAR. As a matter of fact, he said that Danica’s involvement was good for the sport. If his comments are read objectively, there’s no other way to interpret that. He was asked about one particular driver and he told the truth.
Had he been asked the same question about Travis Kvapil or Landon Cassill, his remarks would not have even made print. But we live in a society that deems it necessary to label people as haters just for having opinions. Anytime a well known person offers their views on guns, homosexuality or marijuana they get grilled by one side or the other. It’s no wonder drivers chose to be so vanilla. Look what happens when they opt to be otherwise.
Yes, I am biased in this particular case. I was named after Richard Petty and grew up idolizing the man. At the same time, I have never been a fan of Danica’s image driven fame. But those facts aside, there was nothing wrong with anything ‘The King’ said other than the fact he said it about today’s current media darling.
I can’t say Danica Patrick will never win a Sprint Cup race, but I have seen nothing that would lead me to believe otherwise outside of some odd occurrence. Apparently Richard Petty shares that same point of view. I don’t hate her and I doubt that he does either. That’s just the truth as I see it.
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