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Woody: Sounding A Sour Note In Nashville

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, January 12 2010
Where's the love for Danica Patrick by members of the media? (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)

Danica Patrick continues to take a beating from members of the media. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Nashville – The record cold spell that hit Nashville last week was interrupted by a blast of hot air from Kyle Petty.

Petty, a driver-turned-TV commentator, was among the lineup of luminaries at the annual Sound & Speed Fan Festival, and he stole the headlines with a swipe at Danica Patrick.

Kyle criticized Patrick’s impending move to NASCAR. That’s OK – he’s entitled to his opinion – but I thought he put an unnecessarily mean-spirited spin on it.

Petty called Patrick “just a marketing machine. Let’s look at the facts and be blunt about it.”

Talk about the kettle taking a cheap shot at the pot.

There’s never been a “marketing machine” in the history of NASCAR to parallel the Petty’s. Kyle got his ride because of his family name and the influence of his famous father.

Danica got no similar career break because her name is “Patrick.”

I say this as a longtime admirer of the Petty family. Over the years I interviewed and wrote about Lee, Richard, Kyle and Adam, and even the Petty women; Linda, Pattie and Kyle’s daughter Montgomery Lee who attended college in Nashville. I was fond of them all, and Richard remains my all-time favorite.

I don’t want to be unkind to Kyle but since he brought up the subject of winning, he didn’t exactly set the woods on fire during his driving days: eight wins, the last coming in 1995. When Kyle parked it last year, Danica had won more recently than had he.

I realize that Petty is now a commentator and it’s fair to question whether Patrick can make the transition to stock cars. But what’s not fair is to point out that some, like Dario Franchitti, failed, while failing to note all those who succeeded: Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Tony Stewart and – at least promisingly – Juan Pablo Montoya.

Petty is not the only one to take unfair swipes at Danica. For some reason an anti-Patrick bias exists among many fans, drivers and media members.

I don’t know why. Fans should welcome Patrick; a fresh face and a lively personality amid a stale lineup of drivers that has grown increasingly dull and predictable.

Ditto for the media: Don’t they tire of reporting about the same handful of PR-programmed drivers week after week, race after race? Danica is a major news-maker and Kyle as a member of the media should recognize – and welcome – that fact.

As for drivers, in case they haven’t been paying attention, their sport is about to dry up and blow away due to dwindling interest. NASCAR is approaching the moribund point where the Indy Racing League was a few years ago when Patrick arrived and single-handedly revived it.

I suspect that most of the Danica backlash among drivers is pure jealousy. They have worked long and hard to build a career and resent a swimsuit model getting breaks only because of (they claim) her looks and personality. They should be smart enough to realize that her presence will benefit them by benefiting their sport.

Critics should at least give Patrick credit for what she’s already accomplished in NASCAR: Even before she runs her first race she has generated more interest and attention than Jimmie Johnson did by winning his fourth championship.

As a member of the media, Kyle should ask himself these questions: Would he rather get a sit-down interview with Danica Patrick or Jimmie Johnson? Which would be the most compelling? Which would attract the most viewers?

I know the answer. You know the answer. Kyle knows the answer.

Nobody knows if Patrick will succeed in NASCAR. Not even Danica, and certainly not her critics. They should take a deep breath, ease off, and give her a chance.

If she flops, there will be plenty of time for them to gleefully pile on later.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, January 12 2010
16 Comments

16 Comments »

  • Steve863 says:

    Kyle did say that he did not want to finish a race behind Danica. Simply put, he is a chauvinist. It’s the basis of all his comments. Toomuchcountry said Kyle Petty “won 9 big league races, 8 more than Danica. Dude, he has been driving for 20+ years. Talk about apples and oranges.
    Danica is interesting and that is a fact. Most of the NASCAR drivers are not. It’s a shame because they used to be interesting. Tony, Bush, and a few others are interesting. NASCAR needs the Danica’s. Larry Wood knows it and what he can’t understand is why some of the media and Kyle Petty can’t figure it.

  • HoHum Nascar says:

    Several commentor’s pretty much sum up a primary problem with Nascar. It’s this wait till she races with the “Nascar Boys” attitude. Much of the Nascar mentality is still stuck in the sixties. Good old beer drinking, white faced teams and fans.
    This is echoed over and over by the tv personalities such as Kyle because they come from the same thread.

    Sure some progress has been made, but overall this sport has become stagnant. Ratings, attendance, media coverage is going the wrong direction. I know I will be paying more attention to the Nationwide series than the Sprint cup for the first part of the season. Up until two years ago, I would listen to every Nascar race, TV or radio. The past three years maybe only 25%. I think I left when we starting seeing drivers in tuxedo’s hyped at Hollywood TV events and paraded around the track as super heroes before each race. Get real, they drive a car. Maybe if George Clooney drove than we would see similar media attention for a guy. Anyway this attempt at creating this false image of Nascar is what lost me as a dedicated fan. That’s after 25 year! I hope Danica becoming involved with Nascar, win or loose, will renew interest and if not bring back lost fans, then create some new ones.

  • Jamie O says:

    I don’t feel that anything Kyle said was very far off base at all. From the interview she had with the morning radio show here in Minneapolis, I’d say she’s nothing more than a snooty little brat(I sugar coated that).I realize, and recognize her talent, but her attitude is only going to earn her some quick lessons from the NASCAR boys.

  • Rick says:

    Actually this is not a first with KP. He shot his mouth off about the non-mainstream media last fall, and when pressed on his statements by Dave Moody, couldn’t backtrack and double-talk fast enough. KP may be a good color man in the booth, but as a top driver and serious journalist, he’s mediocre. Maybe he just needs to accept that.

  • Jim R. says:

    Demand for a driver who has accomplished very little but is a “hot” marketing platform: High. Demand for a driver who has reached the pinnacle of his sport but is viewed as “boring”: Low You may want to read this a few times and then take a guess as to why NASCAR is in the shape it’s in.

  • Doug says:

    Can I use one of Kyle’s famous phrases “Lets be honest here”…..The underlining issue is we are all upset because she is not going to drive the 43 car and never will. “The King” is so conservative he made Jesse Helms look like Bill Clinton.

  • HeavyChevy67 says:

    What is it with all you jerk-offs that cannot stand anything that is not politically correct! You mean everybody has to sugar coat Danica’s chances? I predict she is going to suck and her marketing machine will sugar coat that all the way to the bank! And by the way, some young talented driver WILL NOT not be racing because of her!

  • mrclause says:

    Wait a minute. Where did Kyle trash talk Danica? What did he say that was mean spirited? I read his using stats to make an honest judgment. No where did he denigrate Danica or her talent, he gave scenarios that could or couldn’t happen. As for Danica being a marketing machine? Who started that? Danica did by calling herself a “brand”. She said she was “going to stick her toes into NASCAR waters”. Does that sound like a full on effort in NASCAR is going to be forth coming from her. I guess we’ll see soon enough. This is getting to be the typical drivel that Woody thrives on. Kyle didn’t talk about Kyle and what he did or didn’t do. That was not a part of the talk. He gave his fair opinion of the whole Danica picture using facts and stats. Mr Woody, do this please, in the context of Kyles words, show me exactly where Kyle trashed Danica, the exact words! You can’t do it all you can do is is twist what was said and use innuendo to skew the truth of the Danica matter. By the way, I’ve been a Danica fan for years until she came into this sport playing the fans and being a diva. Read Kyles words in an unbiased light, please.

  • Richard in N.C. says:

    Mr. Woody, It sure doesn’t sound like you read the full interview with KP that I did. Blunt maybe, but I did not take KP’s statements as mean-spirited – especially compared to a lot I see in the media everyday. Also, KP did mention Montoya and how talented he is in commenting about DP, who KP did complement. In other words, your take on what KP had to say seems closer to being mean-spirited than what KP said about Danica.

  • Woodman – Danica’s dalliance with stock cars and the superhype surrounding it is not even remotely comparable to Kyle’s entry into racing. Both of us know that. No question about it – Petty Enterprises success allowed Kyle the opportunity to enter the sport. But his 1st race was in the ARCA series with a Dodge Magnum castaway by Richard months earlier because it was non-competitive. He didn’t get one of the top rides in the series like Danica. Fan/media expectations then weren’t near where they are today. Furthermore, if Kyle’s hype at that time was pegged, then why couldn’t PE land additional sponsorship dollars for his team vs. stretching the STP money? And yes, while Kyle won 9 big league races (8 Cup, 1 ARCA) – that’s 8 more than Danica has won. I didn’t read anything in Kyle’s remarks suggesting he didn’t welcome her. He called her talented and said NASCAR will benefit if she succeeds. He was simply stating facts (1) she does not have a proven track record as more recent open-wheelers have had when making the jump and (2) her marketability HAS been her key attribute to this point. To deny otherwise is pointless.

  • Wayne says:

    I suspect Kyle knew Danica was coming to Nascar,and retired so he would not be humiliated each week by her finishing ahead of him.

  • steve-o says:

    Instead of attacking Kyle Petty’s honest opinion why don’t you find something else to write about. Maybe give us some insight into the sleazy Go (Pimp) Daddy commercials we will be subjected to this year which are supporting a truely overhyped mediocre driver who will not succeed in Nascar.

  • paul watson says:

    You know Kyle was a threat every time he went out in the felix sabates cars.He raced for championships and won races.Kyle’s only downfall was staying at petty enterprises.The team had fallen behind megabuck teams yet he remained loyal .Yes kyle out ran Rusty Wallace Dale Earnhardt Ernie Ervin Bobby Labontee and others to win and twice almost won the championship in the mellow yellow 42.His loyality to help get p/e back on top was his only downfall.

    I would like to see him in the media loved 88.I’m sure he could do better then nascars cash cow.He’s one what one race in 4 yrs and the last two I think on gas mileage.Who has the 88 out ran or out dueled in 7 yrs yet everyone and there momma can find a reason he’s not winning. Mean step mom woulden’t give up her company she and dale built togeather.Bad crew chiefs.Bad motors now h. isn’t giving him what the others have.You’re right he gets even more so if you want to talk about draining the name then call it like it is.

    Now you’re going to have two media luke warm talents that the race fans have to suffer threw every weekend and here more excuses why they arn’t winning or running up front.

    Another season with the race starting out with I think today is Dales day only too watch it run 12 to 25th with the announcers yelling here come’s jr when he pass’s two cars.

    Now on Sat’s we can look forward to the danica news with interview after interview and as in the cup series the guys who are running up front and putting on the show get over looked so we can find out what these two had for breakfast and there next excuse .

    If any other driver had been as bad as the 88 in that kind of equipment he’s had his whole career not only would they be out of a ride but out of the series.

    You called Kyle out for saying what everyone’s see’s as obvious so I called out what everyone else see’s as obvious .Here we have two who haven’t done alot in a long time yet the media promotes as stars of the sport.
    wanna know why nascar attendance is dwendling.See above post!

  • Glen Harness says:

    Vicki, I’m not sure what you mean by “hateful” and “spiteful” unless it’s something that someone says about your favorite driver that you don’t like. She has generated more coverage than Johnson’s 4th title has. And an interview with Patrick would be more compelling than an interview with Johnson.

    And if it comes down to Johnson winning a 5th championship versus Patrick winning a race or two in NASCAR, there’s no doubt what would be more interesting (at least in the minds of non-Johnson fans).

  • Vicki says:

    Mr Woody talks about the pot calling the kettle black but I think he just did the same thing. Fact is, I totally agree with him about Kyle’s mean-spirited statements about Danica. I’m hoping Danica has huge success. But…then Woody goes right ahead and is just as hateful and spiteful about Jimmie. Jimmie has accomplished great achievements in NASCAR. I’d wish for Danica to have half as much success but do we have to put one down to build up the other? Why can’t we just celebrate them both? Mr Woody is just the other side of the Kyle Petty coin.

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