Richard Petty says Danica Patrick can only win ‘if everybody else stayed home’
The King also said she only gets attention because she’s a woman, but added that publicity is good for NASCAR.
This story was originally published on Norris McDonald’s Racing Blog on Wheels.ca on Feb. 9, 2014.
The only way Danica Patrick will win a NASCAR Sprint Cup race is if she’s the only driver on the track, says the legendary ‘King’ of stock car racing, Richard Petty.
Petty, who visited Toronto on Sunday for an appearance at the Canadian Motorsports Expo, answered quickly and decisively when asked if the former IndyCar star who’s now a second-year driver for Stewart-Haas Racing would ever visit Victory Lane in the Cup series.
“(Only) if everybody else stayed home,” said Petty, who started his NASCAR career in 1958 in a race at the long-gone Canadian National Exhibition Speedway in downtown Toronto.
Petty spent much of the time in a media scrum discussing how NASCAR has evolved over the years from “race time” to “show time” and he acknowledged that Patrick has been good for the sport in that respect.
“If she’d have been a male, nobody would ever know if she’d showed up at a race track,” said the seven-time Daytona 500 champion. “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.”
Petty said NASCAR has grown so big that much of the attention paid to the series and the drivers these days has moved the actual racing into the back seat.
“When NASCAR Cup racing first started, it was racing,” he said. “Over a period of years, with our sponsorships, what we had to do for TV, to get the fans to come, the first thing you know is that the race is secondary, because all the rest of it is buildup, buildup, buildup.
“It’s sort of like watching the Super Bowl — it was a lot more exciting watching the buildup than the game. The game just happened to break out in the middle of a good party. We’re not quite that far along, but in order for us to do what we need to do on race day, the sponsorship and the fan stuff, we have to do all this other stuff.
“It’s like us coming up here. There’s no racing around here right now, but we can go out and start advertising our sponsors. We can come to Canada and say our next race is Daytona, come on down and see us. It takes all of that to really make it work.
“Like I say, it’s become a show-time deal.”
UNTOLD STORY OF THE SEG-MAN
I was hired at 700WLW in 1978 and started out producing helicopter traffic reports when the station had the helicopter. I worked my way up and started helping out in the newsroom, covering stories, writing copy, etc. Then got into sports with the help of legends Andy Macï¿½Williams and Bob Trumpy. I then moved up to help out Sportstalk and been doing sports ever since. Trumpy actually gaveï¿½me my famous nicknameï¿½"SEG." Going to Northern Kentucky University started my career on the radio. Great people at NKUï¿½especially Dick Murgatroyd, the former executive producer of the Bob Braun Show among others. Murg taught me right.
I have covered the Reds, Bengals, Bearcats, Muskateers, RedHawks, etc since the 1980's. I have been blessed to get to know some great sports stars over the years. Its been great to work with Trump, Cris Collinsworth, Boomer Esiason and Andy Furman on Sportstalk over the years.ï¿½I have been in the Reds Radio booth for 30 years learning from Marty Brenamann and the late Joe Nuxhall, along with Jeff Brantley and Thomï¿½Brenamann.ï¿½Each game in the booth has been special.ï¿½
My love for auto racing started in 1978 following the late and great Dale Earnhardt, Sr plus my first trip to the Indy 500 that same year. I have also been blessed to meet some great people in the world of motorsports.
I wentï¿½to highï¿½school at Colerain and graduated in 1976. From there, it was off to NKU and outï¿½in 1980. Iï¿½live in Middletown with wife, Denise along with step daughter, Rachel. I am blessed to have three grandchildren from my other stepdaughter Sarah.ï¿½Our dog, Emma, passed away on Jan 4, 2007 after 14 years as the best dog and friend in the world.ï¿½