Petty said he was "old school" and won't become politically correct just because of the backlash
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Richard Petty stood by his comments about Danica Patrick's racing ability on Saturday night, but sought to clarify one thing — he's not sexist.
Petty came under fire this week when his comments during an appearance in Canada were made public. He told a crowd at the Canadian Motorsports Expo that Patrick could only win a race "if everybody else stayed home."
"What I said is what I said and that's what I believe, OK?" Petty told a small group of reporters prior to the Sprint Unlimited exhibition race at Daytona International Speedway. "What's unfair is the sexist part. If her name had been Danny, OK, nobody would have said anything about it.
"It was definitely not sexist, OK? Hey look, I've been married 55 years to the same woman. So I am not a sexist by any ways. I love women."
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During his original comments, Petty also said Patrick was good for NASCAR because the sport is becoming more about "show time" than the race.
"If she'd have been a male, nobody would ever know if she'd showed up at a race track," Petty said in Canada. "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."
On Saturday, Petty said he was "old school" and won't become politically correct just because of the backlash.
"To be politically correct, I'd have to lie to myself, and I'm not going to do that," he said. "I am opinionated. You can listen to (son) Kyle to figure that out."
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Patrick responded to Petty's comments on Thursday by largely brushing them off.
"People have said things in the past, they're going to say things in the future," Patrick said. "I still say the same thing: Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. People will judge what he said, whether they judge it well or not, and I'm just not going to (judge).
"The people that matter the most to me are my team, my sponsors and those little 3-year-old kids that run up to you and want a great big hug and say they want to grow up to be like you. That's the stuff I really focus on."
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