Richard Petty: Danica won't win

When it comes to Danica Patrick, the Petty family just can't seem to pass on the subject without causing a caution flag.

This time, however, it was "The King" -- NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty -- who took some swipes at Patrick when asked Sunday whether she would ever win in the Sprint Cup Series.

"If everybody else stayed home," Petty told reporters at the Canadian Motorsports Expo. "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."

Patrick finished 27th in the Sprint Cup standings during her rookie season, driving the No. 10 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing. Her highlight came in the season-opening Daytona 500, where she finished eighth after becoming the first woman to win the pole for that event.

That is her only top-10 finish in 46 races at NASCAR's highest level. Before that, she amassed seven top-10 finishes and one pole in 60 races over four seasons in the Nationwide Series.

However, Patrick is one of the most successful female auto racers in history. Patrick is the only woman to win a major open-wheel race, finishing first in a 2008 IndyCar Series race in Japan. She has six top-10s in the Indy 500 and was third in 2009, the best finish ever for a woman in that historic event.

Petty has commented on Patrick's involvement in NASCAR before, saying in 2006 that "I just don't think it's a sport for women. And so far, it's proven out. It's really not. It's good for them to come in. It gives us a lot of publicity, it gives them publicity."

His son -- former driver and TV analyst Kyle Petty -- has been more outspoken through the years about Patrick's involvement, calling her a "marketing machine" and "not a race car driver" as recently as this past June.

"Danica has been the perfect example of somebody who can qualify better than what she runs," Petty said on Speed TV last year. "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."

Tony Stewart, Patrick's boss and teammate, was quick to race to her defense after those comments.

"When Kyle Petty said the stuff he did, it was way out of line and very inappropriate," Stewart said at last year's Brickyard 400. "... When somebody like Kyle beats you up like that, you take it to heart. She's somebody who wants to do things the right way. She works at it. It's a scenario where somebody has to tell you, 'You are doing the right thing and disregard what one person says.'

"She doesn't sit there and pout about it. She's like, 'OK, if something is not right, what do I do to make it better?' She's got the right mindset, she does the right things, she asks the right questions."

Patrick, however, just laughed it off.

"I really don't care," Patrick said at Kentucky Speedway last year. "There's going to be people who believe in you and people who don't. Plenty of people say bad things about me. I see it on Twitter. Some people want me to die. But at the end of the day, you get over that stuff and trust you're doing a good job for the people who believe in you."