Danica Patrick Defended By NASCAR Drivers After Kyle Petty Comment

Is Danica Patrick a race car driver? Despite the fact that Patrick does in fact drive race cars, Kyle Petty believes that Danica isn't a "real racer."

Petty, the son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, caused a bit of controversy today when he called Danica a "marketing machine" and not a race car driver.

Petty said: “The King (Richard Petty) always had that stupid saying, but it’s true, ‘Lots of drivers can drive fast, but very few drivers can race...' Danica has been the perfect example of somebody who can qualify better than what she runs. She can go fast, but she can’t race. I think she’s come a long way, but she’s still not a racecar driver. And I don’t think she’s ever going to be a race car driver.”

Petty seems to be in the minority, however, as several other race car drivers have come out to praise Danica.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said: “I have to disagree with Kyle ... 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."

Jimmy Johnson said that Danica really hasn't had a chance to succeed yet. The Five-time Sprint Cup champion said that Danica, who has more experience with IndyCars, is still learning the ropes in NASCAR. Johnson said that Danica needed a little time in the driver's seat but was confident that she would succeed in the Sprint Cup series.

Johnson said: “They’re different cars ...The racing that takes place on the track, the door-to-door racing and where you position your car to keep the air on it so you don’t make a mistake, how you can affect others around you to get the position, that’s just something that takes laps.”

Danica Patrick is in her first full Sprint Cup season and she has already captured a pole position. Jaloponik reports that Danica has scored a pole position, a top 10, and three top 20s in her first 26 races. That may sound like it supports Petty's theory that Danica can qualify but can't race, but consider this: Petty scored 0 pole positions during his first 243 races and it took him 8 seasons to score his first victory.

Do you think Danica Patrick is a real race car driver?

[Image Via Action Sports Photography / Shutterstock.com]