February 13

NASCAR: Patrick reacts to Petty

The driver has brushed off the Hall of Famer’s criticisms that she could only win a Sprint Cup ‘if everybody else stayed home’.

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LEAVING IT ALONE: Driver Danica Patrick has brushed off recent criticism of NASCAR legend Richard Petty, who said Patrick only receives attention because she is female.

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She never came close to duplicating that Daytona success the rest of the season for Stewart-Haas Racing. Daytona marked Patrick’s best finish during a rough rookie year in which she averaged a 26th-place finish. Patrick was 27th in the final Sprint Cup standings.

Her learning curve figures to be steep one. Six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said Patrick would need at least five years to really get a feel for handling a stock car. Even Patrick, who had one win in her IndyCar career, knows she has plenty to learn. She’s winless with one top-10 in 46 career Cup starts and had only one top-five in 60 career Nationwide starts. She’ll run the Nationwide race at Daytona the night before the 500.

“Stock cars are not my background,” she said. “I’ve done two full years. One in Nationwide. One in Cup. I still feel like I’m figuring stock cars out, and will for a long time.”

Brad Keselowski, the 2012 Cup champion, said he respected Petty’s stance on Patrick and added his comments to the mix.

“But I think it’s a long ways to go out there and say someone will never win a race,” he said. “I wouldn’t want my name behind that comment. So I think I would probably give a little more time and see how that one plays out because there are races where I think she can win.”

Like Daytona. Or Talladega. Restrictor plate races where just about anything can happen and often lead to unlikely winners.

But at any other track?

“I haven’t seen any indications that would make me think anything different than that,” Keselowski said.

Enough about The King, let’s get back to the boyfriend.

“That’s so much more fun,” Patrick said. “I haven’t really done anything on the race track. What would you ask me if there was no fun things like there are today?”

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