Richard Petty on Danica Patrick: ‘I am not a sexist by any means,’ comments were good publicity for sport

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This kind of got lost in the shuffle of Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited, but it still bears repeating.

A week after Richard Petty said the only way Danica Patrick would win a Sprint Cup race was “if everybody else stayed home,” he reiterated Saturday before the Unlimited that he should not have been criticized for his comments.

And although he may be old school conservative, Petty even went so far as to insist that by no means is he sexist — which he was roundly accused of by fans and media — for making his comments about Patrick.

“What I said is what I said, and that’s what I believe, okay?” Petty told ESPN.com. “What’s unfair is the sexist part. If her name had been Danny, okay, nobody would have said anything about it. So y’all (media and fans) are bringing up the sexist part of it, not me.

“It was definitely not sexist, okay? Hey look, I’ve been married 55 years to the same woman. So I am not a sexist by any ways. I love women.”

It was at last week’s Canadian Motorsports Expo that The King, winner of 200 career Cup races and seven Cup championships, got tongues a-waggin’ with his observations on Patrick.

In addition to his comment about her chance to win a race, Petty added, “If she’d have been a male, nobody would ever know if she’d showed up at a racetrack. … This is a female deal that’s driving her. 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.”

And that’s kind of what Petty did with his most recent comments Saturday. No matter if positive or negative, his comments both last week and Saturday still generated public comment and brought NASCAR a boatload of publicity and attention from both media and fans.

“There was nothing going on (in) NASCAR racing,” Petty said of when he made his comments in Canada. “Nobody was talking about Daytona,” he said. “Nobody was talking about nothing. Look at all the publicity NASCAR got and she got just for one little comment.”

Patrick thus far has not responded — yet again.

It would appear The King wants — and likely will get — the final word in this whole incident.

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Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.