It's been a while since our last Danica Patrick controversy, but former racer Kyle Petty (LEFT) did his best to launch another by dismissing her as a “marketing machine” in an interview that aired on SPEED's “NASCAR Race Hub.”
“In a market where everybody that crawls into a racecar on a Sunday afternoon in Cup racing is male; she's the female,” Petty said. “I don't have a problem with her being a marketing machine -- more power to her.
“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 racecar driver, because I think it's too late to learn.”
Petty went on to admit that he was never one of NASCAR's stars, like his legendary father Richard.
“I was not a great driver, and I'll be the first to admit it. I was a journeyman driver," Petty said. "Just like in the NFL or any sport, there are journeyman players.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was quick to dismiss Petty's assessment.
“I think she's a tough competitor,” Earnhardt Jr. said of Patrick, who races in Sprint Cup with Stewart-Haas Racing but drove for Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports team in the Nationwide Series full time last season. “She works really hard at what she does. She has run some really good races.
"On every occasion she's outrunning several guys out on the circuit. If she was not able to compete and not able to run minimum speed or finishing in last place every week, I think you might be able to say Kyle has an argument. But she's out there running competitively, running strong on several accounts.”
Patrick is expected to meet with the media later today at Kentucky Speedway to address Petty's comments.