Danica Sue Patrick, the American auto racing driver, model and advertising spokeswoman; is dating a familiar face, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. This is the first time that two major on-field competitors in any sport are in a romantic relationship.
Danica, who was married to Paul Edward Hospenthal from 2005 to 2012, and filed for divorce on Jan. 2013, has found love again with the 2-time NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
“I think I am just finally excited to tell someone about this,” Patrick told the Associated Press during a phone interview early Friday morning. “I have a boyfriend, his name is Richard.”
The 25-year-old Stenhouse and 30-year-old Patrick, were rookies in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2010 and have raced together in that series the past three years. They developed a friendship, often sharing racing information and chatting at the track. They were both asked about their relationship this week during media days in Charlotte, N.C., for the new racing season.
“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,” she said of repeated questioning on the subject. “It was out of respect to NASCAR, to all the manufacturers, the new cars, the teams, the sponsors, just to allow all 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.”
Both drivers said that simply getting the news out in public will hopefully cut down on some of the speculation that surrounds every high-profile driver. They both are on-track competitors, Patrick races for Stewart-Haas Racing, while Stenhouse runs for Roush-Fenway Racing.
“Yes we are dating,” he said. “I don’t normally say too much about my private life, always been focused on the track. I didn’t want to confirm at media day so that we could keep the focus on the season, the Gen-6 [car], my sponsors and team. That’s what it’s all about for me.”
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. was born in October 2, 1987 in Olive Branch, Miss. He began racing stock cars in ARCA in 2008 for Roush Fenway Racing. He had two wins in 21 races and finished fourth in the season ranking as a rookie. He is a rookie in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, driving the #17 Best Buy / Zest / Fifth Third Bank Ford Fusion for Roush Fenway Racing in the Sprint Cup Series.
Both Patrick and Stenhouse struggled in their first year of Nationwide Series racing in 2010. Stenhouse went on to win the series championship in 2011 and 2012 while Patrick, who made the move from full-time IndyCar to full-time NASCAR in 2011, finished 10th last season. Patrick is the only woman to win a race in the IndyCar Series and holds the highest finish (third place) by a woman at the Indianapolis 500.
“When she first came into the sport, obviously she is very outgoing and wants to learn as much as she can,” Stenhouse said. “I felt like our backgrounds were somewhat similar coming from light racecars, open-wheel race cars.”
They both are making their full-time Sprint Cup series debut this season. Patrick said Monday that she doesn’t see their rivalry on the track changing their relationship.
“That’s really interesting,” she said. “Both of us are running for rookie of the year and both of us want that. I don’t see any reason why it would change. He was always very generous with information about how to drive the Nationwide car, certain tips. … We’re good friends. It’s not really a rivalry.”