It was a topic you knew Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was going to be asked about eventually, considering the NASCAR rumor mill has him dating Danica Patrick. And not surprisingly, it was a subject matter Stenhouse did not want to discuss.
"I don't like to talk too much about my personal life," Stenhouse said Thursday during the Sprint Media Tour. "I think this week is about Roush Fenway, the Gen-6 (car), our sponsors and our season that we're looking ahead to."
Ironically, both NASCAR drivers are entering their first full season in the Sprint Cup Series and are competing head-to-head for Rookie of the Year. Stenhouse, a two-time Nationwide Series champion, is driving for Roush Fenway Racing, while Patrick is in a car fielded by owner/driver Tony Stewart and his Stewart-Haas Racing team.
"It's going to be fun racing her in Rookie of the Year," Stenhouse said. "I think it's going to be very exciting. I've never raced a friend for a championship, for Rookie of the Year. So that's exciting"
The pair became friends in 2009 when both were entering their rookie seasons in Nationwide. And rumors that two were dating began circulating last November after Patrick announced on her Facebook page that she was divorcing her husband of seven years.
"When she first came into the sport -- obviously she is very outgoing -- and she 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. ... And I felt like I gave her as much advice as I can."
When asked earlier in the week about her relationship with Stenhouse, Patrick commented that the two "were good friends."