I thought the whole Danica Patrick/Richard Petty controversy that started up when Petty made a comment at a motorsport show in Canada, saying that the only way Patrick would win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race would be if everyone else stayed home.
Patrick took the high road during Media Day at Daytona International Speedway recently, merely stating that everyone’s entitled to his/her opinion. With that statement, I admit, I just assumed the controversy was over.
Patrick’s teammate and boss (car owner), Tony Stewart, though, stirred the pot, so to speak, on Wednesday when he said that Patrick should challenge Petty to a heads-up race with identical cars to see who would win.
“I think that would settle it once and for all — maybe get him to shut up a little bit, too,” Stewart said, according to a USA Today article. Stewart also went on to say that when Petty was racing, he often had cars that were better than those raced by everyone else.
That comment led me to wonder something that, I guess, is pondered by fans and insiders of pretty much every sport. How would today’s competitors stack up to those of yesteryear? And I’m not just talking about Patrick and Petty, here. What about six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson against David Pearson? Kurt Busch vs. Darrell Waltrip, specifically Waltrip during his more competitive years?
As someone with a weakness for the Rocky movie franchise, including Rocky Balboa that, I guess, is supposed to be like Rocky VI, I was intrigued by the matchup between Rocky and Mason Dixon in said Rocky Balboa movie. If you never saw the film, Rocky fought Dixon at the end, with Dixon taking a narrow win. But what prompted the match was a computer-simulated bout between the two fighters, matching up Rocky in his prime against the new superstar Dixon. As for the actual fight at the end, it was old Rocky vs. “in his prime” Dixon, not Rocky at his best.
I’m assuming a race between Petty and Patrick, now, wouldn’t feature Petty in his prime. After all, Petty’s in his 70s — no offense Morgan Shepherd. Also, Petty retired in 1992. I’m guessing it would be the real life equivalent of the old Rocky vs. young Dixon movie boxing match — not that Patrick is a champion. And before you say it, whether or not she’ll win a race or a championship isn’t the point, here.
But if that simulation thing could be done to compare the two drivers, or any of the aforementioned drivers, for that matter, that would be cool. Whether or not it’s possible, I have to admit, I don’t know.
I won’t argue Stewart’s point about Petty having better equipment in his day, but note to Stewart: I don’t think a heads-up race between Patrick and Petty would really prove anything.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
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