Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of NASCAR’s most popular drivers and whenever he opens up with the media people listen. Danica Patrick recently took criticism from former driver Kyle Petty and Junior responded by giving her some credit as a talented competitor.
Petty called out Patrick by saying she’s a “marketing machine” but “not a race car driver.” It wasn’t long after that multiple drivers began speaking up in defense of Patrick and Junior was one of the first to make his case.
“I have to disagree with Kyle,” he said Friday at Kentucky Speedway, according to Sporting News. “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.”
There’s no telling what sparked Petty to randomly call out the sport’s top female driver, but he did it anyway and it has others involved scratching their heads. The “criticism noise” is usually reserved for current drivers.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t the only one making a case for Patrick as Jimmie Johnson said that it’s too early in her career to count her out.
Junior is on the pole for Sunday’s race at Kentucky and he’s hoping to get his first win of the season. The race was scheduled for Saturday but it was postponed due to the weather. His opinion matters to everyone in NASCAR, and he got their attention by backing Patrick through the entire situation this week.
“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,” he added. “But she’s out there running competitively and running strong on several accounts.”
Danica Patrick will start 29th on Sunday and you can be sure she’ll be pushing her way up the pack in hopes of proving Kyle Petty wrong.
Do you think Dale Earnhardt Jr. made the right choice by defending Patrick after she was hit with criticism this week?
[Image via Chuck624]