In the wake of Danica Patrick announcing Nov. 20 she intended to divorce her husband, Paul Hospenthal after seven years of marriage, several other gossip blogs speculated whether NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. might have factored into the split. None of the reports offered any proof Patrick and Stenhouse were dating.
However today, the rumors we’re validated by Danica and Ricky both.
“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),” she said. “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.”
“I think that moving forward into the year, it’s a matter of do you say anything at all, or do you just carry on?” she said. “As opposed to speculation and people making up their own stories or talking amongst themselves or us feeling uncomfortable walking into each other’s (motorhomes) moving forward, or around our teams or anything, it’s just easier to be up front and get it out of the way then to have any kind of awkward speculation.”
Stenhouse confirmed the relationship.
“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.”
Stenhouse is back to back champion of the Nationwide Series and has been known to assist Patrick with questions regarding handling and performance issues.
Patrick has struggled in stock cars, notching just seven top-10s in 58 Nationwide races since 2010. Still, she was voted by fans the series’ most popular driver last year.