BY: John Mamola
Richard Petty hasn't driven for NASCAR since 1992, and his most recent comments about current driver Danica Patrick are dated from days before "The King" was even born. Petty speaking to reporters in Toronto at the Canadian Sports Expo said that he believes Patrick would win races "only if everyone else stayed home."
Petty went on to say:
"If she'd have been a male, nobody would ever know if she'd showed up at a race track," Petty said. "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."
Petty added later in the conversation that the sport of NASCAR has become more about the personalities of the drivers, and less about the driving itself.
"When NASCAR Cup racing first started, it was racing," he said. "Over a period of years, with our sponsorships, what we had to do for TV, to get the fans to come, the first thing you know is that the race is secondary, because all the rest of it is buildup, buildup, buildup."
Tom Jones was born and raised in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and studied English at the University of South Florida from 1982 to 1986.
He began his writing career with the St. Petersburg Evening Independent in 1985. He then went on to work for the St. Petersburg Times from 1987 to 1991, the Tampa Tribune from 1991 to 1996, the St. Petersburg Times again from 1996 to 2000 and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune from 2000 to 2003. He then rejoined the St. Petersburg Times for a third time in his career in 2003, where he worked ever since.
Jones has spent most of his career covering the NHL, including being a beat writer for more than 15 years of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Minnesota. Wild. He also spent two years on the Tampa Bay Rays beat. He then become a columnist at Times starting in 2007. Jones has won several national and state writing awards, including a top 10 game story in the nation in 1998 as named by the Associated Press Sports Editors.
Over the course of his career, Jones has covered the Olympics, the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup finals, baseball and hockey all-star games, the NCAA basketball tournament and the Frozen Four.
Jones lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Patty, and sons, Sam and Andy.
With over two decades of reporting on professional and collegiate sports for the Tampa Bay Times, through performance and work experience in journalism and broadcasting in television and radio, Rick Stroud has cultivated an impressive list of sources and utilized his knowledge to produce an outstanding body of work in both print and electronic mediums.
During his career, Stroud has reported on national sporting events including 22 Super Bowls, the NCAA Final Four, and the Major League Baseball Playoffs. While working as the beat writer assigned to the University of Florida at the Times, Stroudâ€™s stories documented NCAA rules violations by the football and basketball programs. The stories for which Stroud won second place for Best Investigative Reporting from the Associated Press Sports Editors, led to sanctions against both Gators programs.
Since 2004, Stroud has appeared as an NFL Insider for ESPN2â€™s First Take and is a regular contributor to ESPNâ€™s SportsCenter, NFL Live, Outside the Lines and Herd with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio. He also contributes to NFL Networkâ€™s Total Access.
Stroud becan covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the National Football League in 1990. Since then, the Bucs have undergone seven coaching changes, the death of owner Hugh Culverhouse and the sale of the franchise to billionaire owner Malcolm Glazer and a stadium referendum. They also celebrated a Super Bowl XXVII victory. His reporting was referenced in Tony Dungyâ€™s best seller, Quiet Strength, particularly because it was Stroud who informed Dungy of the Bucsâ€™ plan to replace him with Giants Super Bowl coach Bill Parcells.
A former Div. I-A baseball player at Arkansas , Stroud brings a unique perspective to sports reporting. During the NFL lockout in 2011, he also served as one of the Timesâ€™ beat writers responsible for covering the Tampa Bay Rays.