Petty: “Danica is not ready for Cup. End of the conversation.” During Friday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session live from Pocono Raceway on SPEED, SPEED analyst Kyle Petty addressed the news that a deal is imminent for Danica Patrick to run the full 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series and partial Cup Series schedule. Following is a transcript of Petty’s comments during his discussion with SPEED host Rick Allen and analyst Larry McReynolds:
Allen: Do you think she is ready to run in the Cup Series with such limited stock car background?
Petty: “She is not ready for Cup. End of the conversation. The first year she ran, it was all marketing all the time. This year she has made a tremendous improvement. I give her kudos for the races she has run and how she’s done. She has made a huge jump from year one to year two. She still hasn’t beaten Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch and Joey Logano and guys like that. When you get to the Cup level, that’s the guys that are there. You’ve got to race against those guys week-in and week-out. And I’m going to say something in defense of Travis Kvapil and Joe Nemechek and guys like that - they are great race car drivers. They don’t have the best equipment out there. They drive their butts off to make these races. She’s not going to come in here and just slot in in front of those guys. The field is so much better and so much deeper. She doesn’t have the experience in a stock car yet after two partial seasons or two marketing campaigns, whatever you want to call it, in the Nationwide Series or the Cup Series yet, in my opinion.”
Allen: I’ll throw in Juan Pablo Montoya. He’s a guy who came from open wheel …
Petty: “He’s a driver, though. He can drive. Juan Pablo probably has better car control than anyone you’ve ever seen in your life. We’re comparing apples and oranges. She doesn’t have the car control or the talent in an open wheel car that he has. Let’s compare talent to talent, and that’s a hard thing to do because I don’t know of her talent in open wheel because I don’t watch a lot of open wheel. I’ll be honest – I’m ignorant about it. When she has come over here, she has been able to run with some of the younger guys in the Nationwide Series, but she’s still not running door-to-door with Joey Logano, door-to-door with Kyle Busch and guys like that. When you get to the Cup Series, guess what? Joey Logano is running 25th and 30th – you’ve got to go all the way to the back of the pack.”
Allen: Jimmie Johnson only spent two full seasons in the Nationwide Series. How much success did he have?
Petty: “I don’t think you have to have success in the Nationwide … I look at what Michael (Waltrip) has done in the Nationwide Series, what (Joe) Nemechek has done in the Nationwide Series. There have been some great guys who have had phenomenal Nationwide Series campaigns then moved to the Cup and had limited success. Then there’s guys like Tony Stewart. I wouldn’t have given two cents for Tony Stewart but he gets in a Cup car and he’s fantastic. Jimmie Johnson was the same way. But you don’t know. But you have to have some experience. She’s only got … what are we talking? Twelve (Nationwide starts) one year and what did she run this year? Six or seven? We’re talking 18 races and now you’re talking about moving her into Cup. No, I’m just not a fan of that at this point in time. I’m sorry.”
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