Last week, Kyle Petty acted like, well, Kyle Petty. The former Sprint Cup series driver and son of NASCAR’s “king,” Richard Petty, appeared on SPEED’s NASCAR RaceHub program to give his thoughts on Danica Patrick. Those thoughts boiled down to this: Patrick is not a race car driver, and she never will be. She’s a marketing machine and nothing more.
While Petty’s comments weren’t too far off from those voiced regularly by fans who aren’t fond of the former Indy Car driver, they were senseless and downright stupid coming from someone who serves as one of the voices of the sport.
Patrick’s performance thus far in her first full-time Sprint Cup series has been abysmal, undoubtedly–she sits 27th in the standings, below drivers like Mark Martin that haven’t even competed in every race in 2013. But it’s hardly time to throw in the towel. Jeff Gordon finished his first full-time season 14th in the points standings, before going on to win four Sprint Cup championships. Matt Kenseth finished 14th in his rookie season as well, before becoming champion in 2003. Kenseth also currently has the most victories of any driver thus far in 2013 with four. What would have happened had folks written off drivers like Gordon and Kenseth halfway through their first full-time season?
The fact of the matter is that it’s too early to tell just how good Danica will be. Petty has since apologized for his comments, and spouting irrational drivel for the sake of getting folks worked up isn’t an uncommon occurrence for him, but it’s still ridiculous. With that in mind, it’s time for Petty to give up the microphone and find a new profession. Here are five that would fit him just right.
Hair braid specialist
One of Petty’s trademarks is a gray-flecked ponytail that, at least on camera, appears to be comprised of steel wool. Anybody that can tame a coarse rat’s nest like that must have hands of steel, and as ridiculous as he looks sporting it, the braid’s not half bad. Too often these days parents are sending their youngsters to school with half-assed and sometimes no braids at all, giving their secret admirers no handhold with which to yank and suggest their interest. Petty could launch his own business, or join one of those already thriving, and lend those calloused hands of his to the cause of improving childhood hair styles. We just have to hope he doesn’t tell little Johnny he isn’t an astronaut and never will be if the kiddo says that what he wants to be when he grows up.
I hate to be petty (no pun intended), but Kyle’s hard to listen to not only because of his often outlandish statements, but also because he always seem to be on the verge of choking on what I only assume is a mammoth hunk of phlegm stuck in his throat. Take a small bite of yogurt, don’t swallow it, and try to talk, and the result will be pretty much what TNT viewers have to deal with throughout the course of an entire race when Petty’s in the commentator booth. Even if his spitting skills aren’t very good, it’ll only take a little bit of airtime to get that heavy allergenic goop travelling at a decent rate of speed, destroying any and all challengers to his dominance.
I know, I know, it’s a cop-out choice. But he’s somehow convinced the programmers of NASCAR content to let him remain on the air, even when he insults one of the sport’s most popular drivers before she’s even completed a full season, so he’s gotta have some pretty baller negotiating skills behind the scenes.
I’m completely serious on this one. Petty does great work with the Victory Junction Gang Camp for terminally ill children, an organization he established to honor his son Adam, who was killed in a practice crash in New Hampshire in 2000. He also holds the annual “Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America.” He’s not an inherently bad guy, he just gives in to the thrill of being on camera and getting to say practically whatever he wants. Let’s take away the cameras and let him continue to make a great difference in the lives of children.
Race car driver
Just kidding. Petty competed in 829 Sprint Cup races throughout his career, won eight times, and never finished better than 5th in the final standings. By no means a legendary career, and certainly not one that will put him top of any “best drivers of all time” lists. So, maybe we should believe what he says about Danica. After all, he seems pretty qualified to talk about who’s not a great racer.