If any of you Danica Patrick fans were hoping she was available, you didn’t make your move fast enough. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Patrick will battle for the NASCAR Rookie of the Year award in Cup but it will be a friendly battle … very friendly.
Rumors were circulating that the two-time Nationwide champion Stenhouse and motorsports sweetheart Patrick were a couple. During the Sprint Media Tour Thursday at Roush Fenway Racing, Stenhouse was asked about the reports that the two were indeed dating and he dodged the question by saying, “I don’t like to talk too much about my personal life. This week is about … our season that we’re looking ahead to.” (Source: Sporting News) However, he did add they have a friendly bond saying, “We’ve got a great relationship.”
That relationship was then verified by Patrick when she stated to Associated Press, “I have a boyfriend, his name is Richard.” She also said, “We are dating and I know there's been a bit of a runaround this week at the media days and poor Ricky got grilled (with questions). It was out of respect to NASCAR, to all the manufacturers, the new cars, the teams, the sponsors, just to allow the news of the day to be about racing and not let anything interfere with that. So, it's Friday now, so that's why we waited until the end of the week to be up front about each other.”
Curiosity has been piqued since Patrick announced her plans for a divorce at the end of last season as to why or what caused the separation to occur. The National Enquirer had already started up the rumor mill shortly after the divorce announcement and now the questions don't seem to stop.
Actually, Patrick and Stenhouse may have fueled the fire beforehand when in an ESPNW piece during the middle of last season, Patrick said, “We got along from the very beginning. He's really respectful. He wants to help me. He makes me trust him. There's no bad intent. He's just protective and nice, a really good friend.” Stenhouse added, “We would always have rookie meetings together and they were always kind of full, so I would get up and give her my seat. That's just kind of how we met and how we became friends, and any time she asked for help, I'm there to give her help as much as I can. It's a good relationship."
There is a connection between the two Cup rookies: Tony Stewart. Stewart employed Stenhouse during Ricky’s sprint car days. Of course, Patrick is under the employment of Stewart in Cup this season.
Both were recently seen together at a Professional Bull Riders rodeo event. The Cup rookies are both high profiled drivers and nothing about this relationship says anything other than every move of their romance will be watched.
The couple will be battling each other for Rookie of the Year but apparently with a twist since there won’t be the usual contention. Said Patrick of the upcoming dual between the two, “It’s not really a rivalry.” Obviously not.
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