Danica Patrick doesn’t mind Richard Petty taking shots at her.
In fact, Danica said Petty’s statement this week — that Danica is only popular because she’s female — has actually been a blessing in disguise.
“As I said the last time somebody said something that was not so positive for me, it spawns so many positive articles,” Patrick said. “I love the conversation that it creates in sport, and across the board it makes sports interesting. It makes life interesting when people have different perspectives, and that’s fine with me.”
Earlier this week, Petty shared a controversial opinion of NASCAR’s foremost woman driver. Petty, who won a record 200 NASCAR races, said Danica would only win the Sprint Cup Series “if everybody else stayed home,” though said she was good for the sport for the attention she brings.
While his assessment may have been accurate from a standpoint of wins and losses, Richard Petty took it a bit further.
“I just don’t think it’s a sport for women,” he said. “And so far, it’s proven out. It’s really not. It’s good for them to come in. It gives us a lot of publicity, it gives them publicity.”
“If she’d have been a male, nobody would ever know if she’d showed up at a race track. 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 to draw attention to the sport, which helps everybody in the sport.”
Though Danica Patrick had a rough rookie year — she had an average finish of 26th — she hit some high points including becoming the first woman to win the starting spot for the Daytona 500. She finished eighth in that race, her highest finish of the year.