Richard Petty defends remarks about Danica
February 16, 2014, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- They stood about 20 paces apart, thanks to a pre-race arrangement that placed the 18 cars in numerical order on the grid before a fan vote determined the starting lineup.
It meant that Richard Petty, owner of car No. 9 driven by Marcos Ambrose, stood in tantalizingly close proximity to the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 of Danica Patrick on Daytona International Speedway's pit road.
There was no mending of the fences,
but no pointed exchanges, either -- an anticlimax before Saturday
night's Sprint Unlimited for the two figures in the NASCAR garage who
had been so intertwined in the news over the last several days. Both
smiled for pictures with fans before the engines fired, but neither one
acknowledged the other despite the logistical circumstance.
Petty, NASCAR's all-time wins leader and an inaugural Hall of Fame inductee, drew scrutiny last weekend at an auto show in Toronto for his frank assessment of Patrick's chances of winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, saying it could happen "if everybody else stayed home." Saturday at the track, Petty remained entrenched with his opinion and bristled at the notion his remarks were sexist.
"What's unfair is the sexist part," Petty told reporters. "If her name had been Danny, OK, nobody would have said anything about it. So y'all are bringing up the sexist part of it, not me."
He added, "It was definitely not sexist, OK? Hey look, I've been married 55 years to the same woman. So I am not a sexist by any ways. I love women."
Patrick -- entering her second full season in the sport's top series -- took the high road during Thursday's NASCAR Media Day, allowing the comments from stock-car racing's King to roll off her back.
"You know, people have said things in the past and they will say things in the future," Patrick said Thursday. "I still say the same thing and that's that everybody is entitled to their own opinion. People are going to judge what he said and I'm just not going to."