Not everyone is impressed with race car driver Danica Patrick’s career and that would include Kyle Petty, former driver and son of arguably the sport’s most legendary racer, Richard Petty. In fact, Petty — the younger — doesn’t think Patrick is much more than a “marketing machine.”
When SPEED Networks’ Matt Clark asked his guest Thursday (June 27) what he thought of Patrick’s first season in the Sprint Cup Series after Petty used a phrase — h e called her a “marketing machine” — he’s used before when talking about the female driver, according to Yahoo Sports .
“That’s where I have a problem,” Perry replied. “Where fans have bought into the hype of the marketing, to think she’s a race car driver. She can go fast, and I’ve seen her go fast. She drives the wheels off it when she goes fast.”
Clark asked if she had learned to race.
“She’s not a race car driver.There’s a difference. The King (Richard Petty, Kyle’s father) 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 race car driver. And I don’t think she’s ever going to be a race car driver.”
He quickly clarified, “Because I think it’s too late to learn.”
Danica Patrick is 31.
Nick Bromberg at Yahoo Sports points out that Petty, who is an analyst with TNT’s Sprint Cup Series coverage, might have used a better argument against Patrick than comparing her qualifying times to her finishing positions, which is 26.8 and 20, respectively. In short, Petty’s opinion could have merit but not under the conditions of the parameters of his argument.
Bromberg also points out that Patrick’s current average finishing position is higher than Kyle Petty’s own average finish score in seven of his ten NASCAR Winston Cup and Sprint Cup Series seasons.
For his own part, Kyle Petty referred to himself during the interview as only a “journeyman” driver, although he won 8 races during his career and finished in the Top 10 173 times. The discussion veered to the difference between good drivers and great drivers. Danica Patrick’s name wasn’t even mentioned.
Patrick has certainly made a name for herself in the racing world. She became famous as an Indy-car driver, winning the Japan 500 in 2008. She moved over to NASCAR racing in 2012 but didn’t race the full schedule. In 2013, she has qualified for all 27 races, making history in February at Daytona when she became the first woman to ever win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole position. That race would also see her best finishing position (8th). The closest she’s come to the Top 10 since was 12th in Martinsville in April.
Although she’s considered racing’s most successful female driver, she has become even more successful by marketing her image. Appearing in everything from bikinis in Sports Illustrated to provocative video ads for the website company GoDaddy.com, Patrick has built an empire around her name.
The day prior to the Kyle Petty interview, Patrick was named to Forbes Celebrity 100, the only race car driver to do so. She placed No. 91 among the list of most powerful celebrities, just behind Sandra Bullock. Patrick’s estimated net worth? A cool $15 million.
In 2011, she placed 3rd on Forbes list of highest paid female athletes. Last year, she was fifth , making the list with a $13 million intake.
So while it is definitely true that Danica Patrick is a marketing machine, time will tell if Petty’s estimation of her driving abilities pans out — even though some would argue that Petty’s estimation already has a few holes in it (see Bromberg’s points above).