DAYTONA BEACH -- NASCAR legend Richard Petty may be eating his words today when all is said and done in disparaging Danica Patrick. She's the Headline Surfer® pre-race favorite to win the 56th running of the Daytona 500.
There's the age-old saying that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Patrick, smart, tough as nails mentally and just as strong probably as any of those other pip-squeak drivers can certainly hold her own in wheeling the No. 10 "Go Daddy" Chevrolet around the 2.5-mile super speedway that is restrictor-plate racing personified where the "big one" can come at any time.
The "big-one," of course, is the massive pile-up with multiple wrecks, cars going airborne and folding up like accordions, save for the most part the driver compartments. And the potential of serious injury or death a cold reality.
Headline Surfer® has closely followed the evolution of the changing of the guard at Daytona since Dale Earnhardt's tragic death in the 2001 death off turn 4 of the final lap when he was sent in the concrete wall nearly head-on and killed instantly.
Would Richard Petty, the so-called "King" of stock car racing disparage the "Intimidator like he did Danica?
For those of you racing and non-racing fans who may not be familiar with Petty's boorish two weeks ago today when he was asked whether Patrick would ever win a Sprint cup race.
Danica Pat"If everybody else stayed home," Petty told reporters at the Canadian Motorsports Expo, when asked about her chances of winning a race. "If she'd have been a male, nobody would ever know if she'd showed up at a racetrack.
Petty didn't stop there.
"This is a female deal that's driving her," said Petty, adding, "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." Despite winning 200 races and seven cup championships, Petty has long ago been relegated from top-dog status by Earnhardt, also a seven-time cup champ well before his untimely death.
Patrick, first class all the way, told ESPN, "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.
"People are going to judge what he said and I'm just not going to" said Patrick, who won the pole and led 5 laps before settling for an 8th-place finish.
She said her focus is on focusing on getting her first win, today, if possible, and not having to justify herself to Petty or anyone else.
Patrick added, "The people that matter the most to me are my team, my sponsors and those little 3-year-old kids that run up to you and want a great big ol' hug and tell you they want to grow up to be like you."