DAYTONA BEACH — Richard Petty on Saturday stood by his comments that Danica Patrick can't win a Sprint Cup race, and the Hall of Famer said it is unfair he has been labeled sexist.
Petty, a seven-time NASCAR champion and team owner, took heat last week when he said Patrick gets attention only because she's a woman. He said the only way Patrick, the first woman to win the Daytona 500 pole, could win a Sprint Cup race was "if everybody else stayed home."
Petty said Saturday that no one would make a fuss about his remarks if he had been talking about a male driver.
"What's unfair is the sexist (accusation) part," Petty said at Daytona International Speedway. "If her name had been Danny, okay, nobody would have said anything about it. So y'all are bringing up the sexist part of it, not me."
NASCAR's career victory leader, Petty said, "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."
Patrick declined to fire back at Petty during Daytona 500 media day Thursday, politely stating that he was entitled to his opinion.
Petty also said during his initial comments that the publicity Patrick brings is good for the sport. "Look at all the publicity NASCAR got and she got just for one little comment," he said.
Engine woes: Patrick and her Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Tony Stewart blew engines during Daytona 500 practice. HScott Motorsports' Bobby Labonte also had an engine failure, creating concern that Hendrick Motorsports might have issues. Stewart-Haas and HScott, the new name for the former Phoenix Racing, lease engines from Hendrick. "Not really concerned about it," said Stewart, also the team co-owner. "Pretty confident it'll be fine."
ARCA: Grant Enfinger earned his first win at Daytona in the ARCA series race. Frank Kimmel was second, followed by Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway. Buster Graham blamed Chase Elliott for hitting him and triggering a massive wreck that took out 15 drivers 13 laps into the 80-lap event. Team members on both sides became involved in a heated skirmish on pit road early in the race, and it spilled into a postrace melee before series officials separated them.