Richard Petty: Danica Patrick would only win if she was only one racing

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I’m not sure exactly what Danica Patrick ever did to the Pettys that has led to their critiques of her, but apparently, it runs in the family.

You may remember in June of last year, Kyle Petty said of Danica that “she’s not a race car driver.” He tempered that by saying she could run fast, but not “race” in the traditional sense. Patrick responded to the criticism shortly thereafter, saying the reverse was true – she couldn’t qualify well at all, but seemed to improve in the races.

Now, “King” Richard Petty has chimed in. He’s gone with the “she’ll never win” argument.

Asked whether he thinks she ever could, Petty deadpanned, “(Only) if everybody else stayed home.” Petty made the comments at the Canadian Motorsports Expo this weekend, in a story via Wheels.ca.

Petty elaborated on the point by again stating that NASCAR has moved from pure racing only to buildup, hype and marketing first, with the racing secondary. To that end, Petty said Patrick has succeeded because it draws in more people to the sport.

As for the “she’ll never win” point, on a conventional circuit, Petty may have a case.

But on restrictor plate tracks, where the field is wide open and it’s a greater lottery – David Ragan for Front Row Motorsports and Trevor Bayne for the Wood Brothers have won at Talladega and Daytona in the last few years – he could very likely be wrong.

For all her detractors, Patrick has often excelled at the restrictor plate races. She got her first and thus far only top-10 finish at the Daytona 500 last year, with eighth place after pole, and has often run well within the top-10 in both Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series events before getting either shuffled back or caught up in the inevitable “big one.”

Put simply, a win for Patrick at Daytona or Talladega would not surprise. A win elsewhere would. A win anywhere would make the “King’s” point a moot one.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.