Patrick still has a lot to prove

Petty says she has improved but isn't 'ready for Cup'

August 10, 2011

When it comes to polarizing athletes, Danica Patrick is probably ranked with Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow in a category all their own.

So it's not surprising that not everyone in NASCAR is smitten by the news Patrick is expected to run a full 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series and partial Cup Series schedule next season. She would run a full-time Nationwide Series schedule with JR Motorsports and a handful of Sprint Cup races with the team owned by Tony Stewart.

"She is not ready for Cup," Speed analyst Kyle Petty said. "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 has done. She has made a huge jump from year one to year two.

"She still hasn't beaten Stewart and Kyle Busch and Joey Logano and guys like that. When you get to the Cup level, those are guys who are there. You have to race against those guys week in and week out."

Sweet ride: The NASCAR season keeps delivering wonderful storylines. At Pocono, Brad Keselowski raced with a brace on his broken ankle and fought through pain to get the victory.

He immediately thanked the 30 American service members who died after their helicopter was shot down in eastern Afghanistan recently.

One of the servicemen who died was a friend of Keselowski's cousin.

"I might not be feeling great, but those are the guys really making sacrifices," Keselowski said. "Whenever I got in the car and felt like, man, this really hurts, it was good inspiration as to what it takes to 'man up' and make it happen."

Keselowski put in a full day of work Sunday despite crashing head-on into a wall during a test session at Road Atlanta on Wednesday, breaking his left ankle.

Gordon is road king: Since drivers are headed to the road course this weekend at Watkins Glen, this is worth noting: Jeff Gordon set the all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup record for road-course victories, with seven, after winning at Watkins Glen in 2001.

With a victory, two seconds and seven finishes of 11th or better in the eight races since the halfway point of the Chase, Gordon has gone from 13th to seventh in the Cup standings and is now 52 points behind leader Carl Edwards.

George Diaz

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