Danica Patrick, responding to comments by NASCAR legend Richard Petty that questioned her racing skills, said Thursday that “everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.”
Petty, who won a record 200 races and now co-owns a NASCAR team, said last weekend that Patrick could win a Sprint Cup Series race “if everybody else stayed home.”
But Petty, 76, who’s widely known as “the King,” also said Patrick and her celebrity were good for stock car racing.
“People are entitled to their opinions and that’s fine,” Patrick, 31, said during media day at Florida’s Daytona International Speedway ahead of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 23.
“You can’t try any harder,” Patrick said in a transcript released by Team Chevy. “You’re doing everything you can. I still feel like I’m figuring stock cars out and will for a long time. I will never stop learning.”
Patrick is a former IndyCar Series driver who migrated to NASCAR and is entering her second full year in the top-tier Cup series.
She finished 27th in the point standings as a Cup rookie last year driving the No. 10 Chevrolet for the Stewart-Haas Racing team.
Patrick had one top-10 finish, an eighth at last year’s Daytona 500, where she also won the pole position.
Earlier this week, former Cup champion Brad Keselowski tweeted that “I like king Richard, but I disagree with what he said about @DanicaPatrick. She could potentially win at talladega and Daytona.”
Talladega and Daytona are the two high-speed tracks where NASCAR-mandated restrictions on horsepower keep the cars bunched closely together throughout the race.
But in a second tweet, Keselowski added that “I also don’t think Richard or anyone in the @nascar community is being intentionally sexist when doubting @DanicaPatrick as implied by many.”