Danica Patrick was criticized by former driver and current television analyst Kyle Petty Thursday.
(Photo: Peter Casey, USA TODAY Sports)
SPARTA, Ky. (USA TODAY) -- Responding Friday to criticism of her NASCAR career by former driver and television analyst Kyle Petty, Danica Patrick said the comments had no impact on her.
"I really don't care," she said. "I don't. It's true there are plenty of people who say really bad things about me. I hear about them or I read them or I read them on Twitter. People want me to die. At the end of the day, you just get over that kind of stuff. All you can do is trust that you're doing a good job and that's all that matters and the people around you believe in you."
Petty, appearing on the Speed Channel's NASCAR RaceHub program, said Patrick, who is in her first full season in Sprint Cup racing, is "not a race car driver. ... Danica has been the perfect example of somebody who can qualify better than what she runs. She can go fast, but she can't race. I think she's come a long way, but she's still not a race car driver. And I don't think she's ever going to be a race car driver."
Petty said Patrick has had much success as what he called a "marketing machine" but that her driving hasn't impressed.
In 26 career Sprint Cup races, Patrick has one top-10 finish - an eighth in this year's season-opening Daytona 500 after she won the pole for the sport's most important race. Her best finish since then is a 12th at Martinsville. Entering Saturday night's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, she is 27th in Sprint Cup points.
Although she won the pole for the Daytona 500, making history as the first woman to qualify first in a Sprint Cup race and sparking a carnival of publicity, Patrick has qualified no higher than 23rd since that event.
"I just think that it's funny how he (Petty) said I can qualify but I can't race," Patrick said of Petty. "Those of you who actually watch what I do would know I can't qualify for crap, and then in the race things go much better.
"It's a little bit funny. The most important thing to me is that I keep my team happy, we're moving in the right direction, that GoDaddy (her primary sponsor) is happy and that when I walk out of the garage and meet a little girl who (says she) wants to grow up to be like you, you're doing something right. Those are the things that feel right."
She said the learning curve is different for each new driver.
"At times I feel like I'm ahead of it and at times behind it," she said. "I don't know at what point in time it flattens out. I'm feeling the car better. I think over time feeling the car better is going to result in a car that's set up for me and result in a car that's faster and better."