NASCAR

Richard Petty sees Danica Patrick as a PR tool, not race winner

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Richard Petty, the NASCAR hall-of-famer, has come out in criticism of female drive Danica Patrick over the weekend.

In an interview at the Canadian Motorsports Expo. the 76-year old made light of her chances of success.

Asked whether the driver, who became the first female in NASCAR history to claim a Sprint Series pole in 2013, could ever win a Sprint Cup Series race, Petty was dubious:

"If everybody stayed at home," came the response.

The man who won 200 Sprint Cup Series races during his long career, also suggested that the only reason Patrick is getting attention is because she is a woman:

"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 draw attention to the sport, which helps everybody in the sport," he said Sunday.

Nothing like a back handed compliment eh?

Patrick was competing in her rookie season in 2013, ultimately finishing 27th in the Sprint Cup standings, and she is widely regarded as one of the most successful female motor racers of all time.

The Petty family is no stranger to controversy when it comes to the ability of Patrick however.

In the summer of 2013, Petty's son Kyle, now a TV analyst, labelled her a marketing machine. While in 2006 Richard Petty had this to say:

"I just don't think it's a sport for women."

Patrick will be hoping to dumfound her critics when the 2014 season gets underway later this month.

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