Doug Halberstadt: Richard Petty owes fans apology for remarks about Danica Patrick

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

Richard Petty said Feb. 9 that the only way former Roscoe, Ill., resident Danica Patrick would ever win a Sprint Cup race was “if everybody else stayed home. If she’d have been a male, nobody would ever know if she’d showed up at a race track.” I truly hope Petty ends up eating those words, sooner rather than later!

This is a female deal that’s driving her,” Petty said. “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 to draw attention to the sport, which helps everybody in the sport.”

Good PR for me”? He’s Richard “The King” Petty, for crying out loud. He’s the godfather of the entire sport. Does he really think he needs any more PR?

I can’t understand why “The King” would ever say such a thing. It makes him look like a misogynist, backwoods hick. Perhaps those are his true colors? That type of opinion continues to reinforce the redneck stereotype that NASCAR has been attempting to erase. Congratulations to Petty for setting the sport back decades.

Would he have dared to say that about any other male driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series? I doubt it. Would he have said the same thing about any African-American driver? Never. Can you imagine him getting away with saying, “This is a black deal that’s driving him?” Why it is OK that he said this about a woman? It’s NOT!

The cheap shot he lobbed at Patrick was totally unwarranted. Petty will always have his fans and admirers, and regardless of any opinions he voices, it will never take away from his accomplishments on the track. That being said, I, for one, wouldn’t mind if he’d simply take his sexist opinions back to his caveman hut and never be heard from again.

There’s no room for his hatred-filled diatribe in today’s NASCAR. I’ve lost all respect for him. I think he not only owes Patrick an apology, but he owes every NASCAR fan an apology.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

Posted Feb. 19, 2014

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