Kyle Petty: Danica Patrick is 'not a race-car driver'

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Petty offered harsh criticism of Danica Patrick calling her “not a race-car driver” in an interview that aired Thursday.

Retired NASCAR driver Kyle Petty calls himself a "journeyman driver," but the current Speed/TNT analyst thinks even less of Danica Patrick's ability.

In a segment that aired on the Speed program "Race Hub" Thursday, Petty said Patrick is "not a race-car driver." He called Patrick a "marketing machine" who has used her commercial appeal to convince the public she is better than she is otherwise.

"Where fans have bought into the hype of the marketing, to think she's a race car driver," Petty said. "She can go fast, and I've seen her go fast. She drives the wheels off it when she goes fast."

Patrick, 31, is in her first full season in Sprint Cup and this is only her fourth year competing in NASCAR. She began her career in open-wheel racing, including seven years spent in IndyCar, where she became the first woman in 2008 to a win an oval track race in a major motorsports event.

Thus far, though, her transition to stock-car racing has been a struggle. In 16 Cup starts this season she has finished in the top 10 just once -- an eighth in the Daytona 500 -- and has an average finish of 25.8. And heading into this weekend's race at Kentucky Speedway, she ranks 27th in points.

"The King (Richard Petty, Kyle's father) always had that stupid saying, but it's true, ‘Lots of drivers can drive fast, but very few drivers can race,'" Petty said. "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 race car driver. And I don't think she's ever going to be a race car driver.

"Because I think it's too late to learn."

Towards the end of the interview when asked what makes a great driver, Petty, who had eight Cup wins in 829 career starts in NASCAR's premiere series, was candid about his own futility.

"If I knew, I'd be a great driver," Petty said. "I was not a great driver, and I'll be the first to admit it. I was a journeyman driver. Just like in the NFL or any sport, there are journeyman players."

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