Tony Stewart: Let’s see a race between Danica Patrick and Richard Petty

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Tony Stewart is obviously a very protective boss.

Even The King, Richard Petty, will suffer Stewart’s wrath when it comes to protecting one of his drivers, Danica Patrick.

Appearing on Performance Radio Network’s “Fast Talk” (the episode with Stewart can be heard at GoPRN.com), Stewart made it very clear what he would like Patrick to do if she wins a Sprint Cup race this season.

“If I were her, I’d take (the checkered flag) over and cram it up his (expletive),” Stewart said of Petty. “If it were me, that’s just me.”

That outburst was in response to the suggestion that Patrick might take the flag to Petty for his autograph to prove that she can indeed win a race in NASCAR.

This obviously all stems from Petty’s comments nearly two weeks ago in an appearance at the Canadian Motorsports Expo in Toronto, where he said the only way Patrick would win a Sprint Cup race was “if everybody else stayed home,” according to Wheels.ca. It’s a story that has grown wheels since, necessitated a rebuttal from Patrick, and then forced Petty to mildly backtrack.

But wait, it gets better.

Stewart then suggested that Petty climb back into a race car for the first time in 22 years and have a match race with Patrick in a two-car IROC-style shootout.

“I told her she should challenge Richard to a heads-up race,” Stewart said. “I think that would pretty much settle it once and for all, maybe get him to shut up a little bit too.

“He drove in an era when he had cars that were superior to what everybody else was running a lot. I think he forgets that NASCAR has changed a lot since he was a driver and how hard it really is now.”

 

Petty is 76, while Patrick turns 32 on March 25.

For the record, Petty’s last win in a Sprint Cup car was 30 years ago in 1984 (Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway). But let’s not forget Petty is NASCAR’s all-time wins leader with 200 Sprint Cup victories, not to mention being tied with the late Dale Earhardt for most Cup championships by a driver (seven).

Even at his age, Petty likely still has a few racing tricks up his sleeve — or firesuit, depending on your perspective.

Patrick, meanwhile, has yet to win a race in NASCAR, either Sprint Cup or Nationwide, and has just one race win to her credit during her previous days on the IndyCar circuit.

“I will supply the cars, I don’t care,” Stewart said. “If he wants to race her, I’ll make sure they have exactly the same set-up in the car and give him a chance. He can drive one of my 14 cars I don’t care.”

Somewhere, there HAS to be a promoter already trying to find a way to make this happen. It’d be a natural for the legendary Humpy Wheeler, and just think of the potential good it could do.

A Petty-Patrick match race could raise a ton of money for charity and give NASCAR perhaps its biggest story in years.

If Petty would agree to take part but is reluctant to do it on an actual track – maybe they could do it on a computer game instead of the real thing, if necessary.

Who do  YOU think would win?

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

IMSA: Sebring Day 2 of two-day test notebook

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Testing across several IMSA sanctioned series continued at Sebring International Raceway on Tuesday as preparations continue for next month’s events during the weekend of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.

Below are highlights from Day 2 of testing around the 3.74-mile road course.

Eurosport Racing Continues Work with Mazda Prototype Challenge Chassis

Teams in the Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda championship completed their second day of testing on Tuesday. Among them, Eurosport Racing continued their work with the only Mazda Prototype Challenge (MPC) entries in the field, in the hands of drivers Dr. Tim George (in the No. 24 entry) and Jon Brownson (in the No. 34).

“Right now, I’m driving by myself so we’re trying to make the car comfortable enough to last an hour and 45 minutes with just me in the car,” George said of their preparation efforts. “We’re trying to set up the car where it’s quick, yet it and can last, both the car and for me to make sure we don’t tire out, get fatigued and make mistakes.”

The 1 hour 45 minute window that George referenced represents the race times for the 2018 season, up considerably from last year’s sprint format that featured a pair of 45-minute races across a race weekend.

Though that change represents a drastic shift in driving philosophy, it is one that George welcomes.

“The new rules for the endurance races are great, I enjoy it a lot,” said George. “It gives you a chance to think through things differently with strategy. It also gives you a chance if you blow it…in a sprint race if you make a mistake you don’t get a chance to come back.”

Florida Drivers in Continental Tire Challenge Eager for Hometown Race at Sebring

A strong contingent of drivers from Florida are represented in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and next month’s 12 Hours of Sebring weekend will see them compete on home soil.

“I grew up in Tallahassee and I live in Orlando now, so Sebring has been my home track since day one,” said Paul Holton, driver of the No. 76 Compass Racing McLaren GT4, which finished 14th at the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. “I’ve spent a lot of time down here and really enjoy the place. It’s a nice, quaint little town not far from Orlando so it’s a quick, easy drive down for me.”

Fellow Floridian Ramin Abdolvahabi, a native of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and driver of the No. 09 Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage, revealed that, even though Sebring is only two hours from his hometown, this week’s test was his first time at the track in two years.

“I haven’t been here for two years, so coming back is like coming home,” he said. “It’s a fantastic track and it’s one of the iconic tracks in the world so being at Sebring – a small town, my hometown, welcoming – it’s fantastic. I went on the track a couple of times yesterday and it’s just like wearing an old shoe, it just fits and it’s fantastic. Hopefully, the race will go well and the weather will hold, so anyone who’s out there, come and see us!”

Frank Raso Trades in Airplanes for Porsches at Sebring

Several IMSA drivers boast “day jobs” outside of their racing gigs. Among them, Frank Raso’s work falls outside of ordinary jobs like doctor or lawyer. Rather, Raso flies airplanes for a living.

“I’m an airline pilot for a major airline,” said Raso, who tested the No. 10 Topp Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car at Sebring. “I’ve been flying for almost 30 years, and it’s allowed me, with all my time off and things like that to do this and fall back into racing again. I messed with it a little bit when I was younger, but it was, of course, expensive, so I got away from it for a while. I decided I wanted to get back into it in kind of my last couple of years before I get too old.”

Raso explained that the skills he practices while flying planes are more than transferable to his driving duties in a Porsche GT3 Cup car.

“Flying an airliner or flying any airplane, we have checklists, but everything is kind of done in order. It’s almost in a robot fashion type of a thing where you do this, you do this, you do this and you have to make sure you hit all your marks and fly the airplane with precision.

“So, when you get in these Cup cars, with no anti-lock brakes, no traction control, and no driver assist items, you have to make sure you hit your marks, when you’re accelerating, when you’re turning in. You have to be alert. It keeps your wits about you. The car can step out at any time. They’re a very difficult car to drive, but they’re a lot of fun.”
The 54-year-old Raso posted a best finish of fourth, on four separate occasions, in a part-time schedule during the 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season as a competitor in the Gold Cup class.
Newcomers Get Taste of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge
A number of new drivers got to sample Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge cars during the two days of testing at Sebring. Among them was amateur racer Scott Welham, who got his first taste of professional racing during the two-day outing at Sebring.
And he had a strong support system backing him up in the Kelly-Moss Road and Race team, the defending Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge champions with driver Jake Eidson.
“Here, you’ve got somebody that actually does coaching, data acquisition, track management – these are all separate people – plant manager, owner, a car-setup guy, you’ve got someone that bills you – which isn’t always a good thing, but you know, you just have that huge, huge support group that enables you to focus on driving,” Welham said of the team’s influence on his development over the two days.
IMSA’s next visit to Sebring will be for the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17.