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?

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Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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