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.
Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.
There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.
Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.
Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.
By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.
With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.
This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.
Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.
Two privateers have started the season on a high note.
Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.
The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.
Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.
In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.