As media members gathered at Daytona International Speedway Thursday for Media Day, the new Gen-6 car and the upcoming Daytona 500 took a back seat to romance when Danica Patrick settled in to field questions from the crowd of reporters.
Patrick, who will be running the full NASCAR Sprint Cup series for Stewart-Haas Racing, will be battling her boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., for Rookie of the Year honors. This unique dynamic dominated the Valentine’s Day questions and Patrick was happy to play along with the crowd.
Patrick talked openly about the romance, her Valentine’s gift to Stenhouse (in a suitcase delayed by a cancelled flight) and the couple’s plans for the evening (she would probably cook) as reporters questioned how their off-track relationship might affect their on-track performances. Patrick said they will both still race hard.
The former IndyCar star, who finished 10th in the NASCAR Nationwide standings in 2012 when Stenhouse won the championship, said neither car owner Tony Stewart nor her sponsors had a problem with the relationship.
Patrick also announced Thursday that she will pilot Turner Scott Motorsports' fourth entry in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Feb. 23 at the Florida track.
Patrick will drive the No. 34 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet Camaro in the season-opening DRIVE4COPD 300 NASCAR Nationwide race with veteran crew chief Mike Greci atop the pit box.