Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Mailbox: Was Richard Petty’s Danica Reaction Sexist?

If time flies when you are having fun, then it certainly drags when you are bored. To some, the offseason is a much-needed break from the weekly grind that is the NASCAR schedule. To others, it is a necessary evil of any sport where you must endure a tremendously long amount of time (two months qualifies as “tremendous,” right?) without the competition you know and love.

NASCAR brass have announced many changes for the 2014 season. Will fans be able to keep an open mind to see how they’ll all play out?
NASCAR brass have announced many changes for the 2014 season. Will fans be able to keep an open mind to see how they’ll all play out?

Ready or not, the NASCAR season begins this Saturday and with that comes the return of Frontstretch.com’s NASCAR Mailbox. And oh, have I missed you all! From the fans who send weekly tweets regarding Brian France’s latest conspiracy theory, to those who are convinced that Danica Patrick can do no wrong, and everyone in between, we are certainly glad to have you back!
With hopeful expectation, though with a hint of cynicism, I expect that your NASCAR New Year’s Resolution came with a promise to be more positive in 2014. After all, this sport is supposed to be a form of enjoyment! Right guys?? RIGHT?!
Ah, well, we all knew better. Let’s get to your questions and comments:
“OK… the Chase is different, penalties are different, qualifying is different. It might be easier to list the things that are the SAME starting in 2014. What didn’t change and why the hell not NASCAR??” Dianne
Well, for one, Jimmie Johnson will probably win the championship again. Or was that not what you wanted to hear?
Really, no fundamental aspect of NASCAR stayed the same this year other than the cars and drivers themselves. NASCAR recognized a need for change in a variety of areas and realized that, without some sort of evolution process, they were going to experience a slow demise into obscurity. That’s if they weren’t going through such a transition already…
What’s important to note, though is the overall structure of the weekend stayed mostly the same. The length of the races as well as the schedule remained intact, so you won’t have to try and remember what race is where if you have been watching for awhile. The points are still in descending order in terms of finishing position. Really, other than the three admittedly large areas that you mentioned, some of NASCAR’s basics remain virtually unchanged.
I sense a hint of bitterness in your post, though, and I have some advice for you. Enter this season with an open mind. No amount of complaining is going to change anything before Daytona, and these adjustments could wind up being the smartest decisions NASCAR ever made. Of course, the opposite could happen, but I highly doubt it will all backfire. At the very least, they have made it nearly impossible for this season to be boring.
“I like NASCAR but I also like other motorsports programming. It’s why I miss SPEED Report and Wind Tunnel. Is NBC Sports going to have anything like those shows when they take over race coverage?” Andrew
NBC Sports is introducing more programming, but it is a NASCAR-focused show. “NASCAR America” will be the name, and it will be a daily 30-minute show filled with inside analysis and features. But again, it’s not the motorsports-based programming you wanted.
As of now, there is no race programming that has been announced on any television channel that isn’t NASCAR-centric. I had heard through the grapevine and from general talk that NBC Sports might be introducing something like SPEED Center, but that was before “NASCAR America” was announced. I’m thinking that this show is the only additional programming racing fans can expect for now.
I agree with everyone that a generalized motorsports talk or news show is sorely missing from the airwaves after the loss of SPEED, and I’m a little surprised that no one has picked that up. If I had to put my money on a specific channel, I would go with MavTV. That’s purely speculation, however.
So if I’m a race fan in need of some motorsports programming, I would be tweeting, Facebook-ing, and emailing every medium available for channels like Fox Sports, MavTV, and NBC Sports. If enough of you put your voice out there, I would imagine the chances of having some sort of programming will grow. I can’t imagine that someone out there isn’t exploring the idea, but it just hasn’t happened yet.
Give it some time. I don’t believe the landscape will stay this barren forever. If Golf has its own channel, then motorsports as a whole can have its own show.

Richard Petty had some pointed comments about Danica Patrick’s potential to win in NASCAR last week.
Richard Petty had some pointed comments about Danica Patrick’s potential to win in NASCAR last week.
“I really wish Richard Petty had kept his mouth shut on Danica, especially since his own team sucks. Now we’re never going to get rid of the sexist, hateful, redneck stereotype…” Bob
Why does the fact that Petty’s team is struggling mean that he’s not allowed to have an opinion? You’ve likely never even driven a race car, but I’m sure you have an opinion on Danica. According to your logic, you should just shut up about it because you have no grounds to speak on.
Also, I’m really sick and tired of hearing that Richard Petty’s comments were sexist. If he had criticized, say, Travis Pastrana’s driving abilities and said the exact same thing no one would have cared. He didn’t say, “She’ll never win because she’s a woman.” He just said she wouldn’t win, period, because he doesn’t think she’s a good driver. I don’t know a lot of people who do! Danica’s an OK driver in her best performances. I think she’s shown potential to win races at certain tracks, but saying that she’s not that great is far from sexist. Her being a woman does not in and of itself make it a misogynistic comment any more than her criticisms of other drivers have been sexist against males.
Secondly, comments about Danica gaining attention because she’s a woman weren’t sexist either. They were absolutely true! Look at the other drivers who finished around her in points. Do they get near the mention or commentary that Danica does? They obviously don’t, since the only driver who received more media attention over the offseason than her was the series champion (Jimmie Johnson, for those of you with a short memory). So Petty’s comments weren’t coming from a place of hate. They were the result of an absolute truth and all he did was say what everyone else already knew.
Heck, the mainstream media outlets that were so quick to jump on these comments being “sexist” only knew about Danica because she’s a woman. Do you think they knew who David Gilliland, who finished one position higher in points than Patrick, is? If we’re being honest, they probably don’t even know who Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski are. These same reporters who were more than willing to paint a portrait of a sexist Richard Petty likely couldn’t name five Chase drivers from last year… yet they can mention a driver who barely finished in the top 30. Would they know who Danica was if she were male? Probably not.
I don’t agree with everything Richard Petty said, but his comments were of his own observations of Danica Patrick, and they aren’t different from many others within the sport. She isn’t the first driver Petty has been critical of and she won’t be the last. Our society needs to quit being so offended about things that aren’t offensive and worry about things that really matter. That sentiment goes for many within our own community.

About the author

Promoted to editor in 2013, Summer is one of Frontstretch’s fast-rising young talents. While contributing to social media efforts, she also writes the weekly "Up To Speed" column. A Kansas native, Summer graduated with a Bachelor's in Journalism and Mass Communications in 2015. She also contributes to other media outlets such as Kickin' The Tires.

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