DAYTONA BEACH — Tony Stewart, responding strongly to Richard Petty's comments that Danica Patrick could only win a Sprint Cup race if "everybody else stayed home," told Performance Racing Network on Wednesday that he suggested to his Stewart-Haas Racing driver that she challenge NASCAR's all-time leader in wins to a match race.
"I think that (a race) would pretty much settle it once and for all, maybe get him to shut up a little bit, too," Stewart said. "I will supply the cars. If he wants to race her, I'll make sure they have exactly the same setup in the car and give him the chance."
Stewart said NASCAR has changed considerably since Petty, 76, drove. Stewart said Petty usually had superior equipment and doesn't understand how much harder it is to win now.
conservative johnson: Don't look for Jimmie Johnson to take many chances during tonight's Daytona 500 qualifier. The defending race and series champion wrecked one car during Saturday's Sprint Unlimited. So Johnson was one of a handful of drivers who turned only a few laps — some turned none — during practice Wednesday. "We need to watch ourselves because we're down to one car," he said. "We have other stuff at home, but we really don't want to bring it down here. We like the car that's sitting over there ready for the 500." Only Austin Dillon (pole) and Martin Truex (No. 2) have clinched starting positions for Sunday's 500. The others will be determined tonight. For Johnson, guaranteed a starting spot, only getting his car through in one piece matters.
Big wreck: The first practice ended early after rookie Parker Kligerman's airborne car ripped out a chunk of the grandstand fence. No drivers were hurt in the seven-car wreck, and the stands were virtually empty. Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth started the melee when they came out of Turn 4 during a drafting session. Trevor Bayne hit Logano, who slammed into Paul Menard. Menard's car collected Kligerman, whose car landed on Ryan Truex's hood. Dave Blaney also was involved.