Rival drivers come to Patrick's defense

Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:12pm EST
 
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By Lewis Franck

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Reuters) - Danica Patrick shrugged off derisive remarks from NASCAR legend Richard "The King" Petty about her racing skills, and rival drivers came to her defense at Thursday's Media Day for the Daytona 500.

Last year, when Danica Patrick became the first woman to win the pole position for the Daytona 500, NASCAR's season opening and most storied race, it promised to be the dawning of a new era.

One year later, after her first full season driving for 2011 champion Tony Stewart's team, the 31-year-old Patrick has a record of no wins, one top-10 finish and 27th place in NASCAR's 2013 Sprint Cup Series.

When asked at the Canadian Motorsports Expo earlier this week if Patrick would win a race in NASCAR's premier series, Petty said: "(Only) if everybody else stayed home. If she'd have been a male, nobody would ever know if she'd showed up at a racetrack."

Patrick sidestepped the slam when asked by reporters ahead of the February 23 race.

"You know, people have said things in the past and they will say things in the future. I still say the same thing, and that's that everybody is entitled to their own opinion," Patrick said.

"People are going to judge what he said and I'm just not going to."

JURY STILL OUT   Continued...

 
Race car driver Danica Patrick arrives to participate in the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, April 1, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst