Friday, June 28, 2013

Kyle Petty, Is He Right About Danica Patrick?

Today the entire NASCAR world has seen a small statement that Kyle Petty made about "rising star," Danica Patrick.

More or less, Kyle said that Danica is a huge marketing machine for NASCAR and that even though she can drive fast, aka, qualifying, she is not a race car driver.  (How many 27th place drivers get interviewed in any sport?)

Zing!

In response to Kyle's statement, Danica had said that she doesn't care about what he said and that plenty of people say bad things about her.

It's he said, she said!

And ever since Danica landed in NASCAR, she's been facing this kind of criticism from many sources.

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It's been my observation that Kyle Petty calls it as he sees it and he's always seemed to be on mark with many things that he comments on.  I've enjoyed his angle on the various subjects he touches on.

And it's nice to see someone with some clout say something that many fans have been thinking.

But was it warranted for him to say this?

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Danica Patrick was the first woman to win an IndyCar race when she won the Japan 300 back in 2008 after the rest of the competition failed to manage their fuel runs in the race.

That was her one and only win in that series.

She came to NASCAR in the ARCA series for a bit, then the Nationwide series.  She did well enough against the other Nationwide drivers, but was always the follow up finisher to any Cup drivers that competed in the same Nationwide races she was in.

When she moved up to the Sprint Cup series, I lost count of how many folks that felt she was nowhere near ready for the competition in the top tier division of NASCAR.

But she brought a huge sponsor in GoDaddy to the series, and as Kyle put it, brought a ton of public attention with her with her "marketing machine" gold.

She won the pole at Daytona, but then many felt that it was great, but let's wait until a non-restrictor plate race to see if that performance trend continued.

Not so much.

She's 27th in points right now.  It's hard to deny what Kyle said about her with her spot in the standings.  AT the moment.

Then there are the hard-core fans of hers that will keep rooting and waiting for her performance levels to get better.

And that would be a good thing for all concerned.  If she became a contender.

Last week at Sonoma, I was watching her drive the track, and if you've seen the races at Sonoma, the way to take the track is the shortest distance between two points.  And that usually involves hitting the inside berm and getting a wee bit of air under a tire or two.

She never once touched the inside berm, and kept all four wheels on the ground at all times.

I'm not sure what that means.  Is she on to something no one else is on to, or was she coming up short?

I don't know.  But it's what I saw.

For the time being, I expect we'll be seeing some TV coverage on the words between a Petty and a Patrick come Sunday when the TV coverage kicks in gear at Kentucky.

Let's see how crazy or sedate this gets by then.

-Bruce
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