Danica Patrick doesn't think relationship with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will affect on-track results

Sam Greenwood

It is undeniably Valentine's Day at Daytona International Speedway and Danica Patrick's romantic relationship with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is all everyone seemingly wants to talk about. Fortunately for members of the media, Patrick was willing to answer every question even those that make her PR staff uncomfortable.

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It was one of the most awkward press conferences in the history of organized motorsports with questions ranging from ‘who asked who out first' to ‘when day is your anniversary.'

As much as it might make some fans groan, some of the more compelling questions concerning their relationship does involve an element of on-track competition with some drivers, including Brad Keselowski, wandering if they could "wreck each other six weeks in a row" should they have a fight or break up.

Patrick and Stenhouse both graduated full-time to the Sprint Cup Series this season and will chase Rookie of the Year honors. Patrick was asked about the combustible element of her hot-headed personality and Stenhouse's penchant of driving the car sideways and what would happen should an accident between the two occur.

"He better have a really good I'm sorry," Patrick said, laughing with reporters during her media day session on Thursday. "I'm just kidding. But I've got a feeling PR is just lurking and sweating their butts off over there."

But the line of questioning brings up some good points. Will two Cup Series drivers in a relationship with each other affect the way they race each other? Keselowski added that it was a shame that the two-car draft wasn't a factor anymore because it would have added a new element to their relationship and the Daytona 500.

"It stinks that the two-car tandem isn't going to work here anymore because it will kill a lot of our material," Keselowski quipped. "They should bring it back just for the jokes. I think they are getting extra track time, both of them, and as a rookie that isn't fair."

On a serious note, Patrick doesn't think her relationship with Stenhouse will affect how they race against each other but understands the question it poses for the rest of the garage and in the grandstands.

"We've been racing against each other as long as we've known each other," Patrick said. "So, you know, there are times you're out there on the track, you don't even see each other, you're not even next to each other. Every time we have been, it's about respect and neither of us put up a big fight...

"But I'm guessing as we keep getting better over the year, over the years, you're going to end up having to race each other harder because they're going to be for better spots. But in general, it's going to be just like it always has been."

Despite the close relationship with Stenhouse, Patrick admitted that she hasn't asked her boyfriend for many driving tips. She has those conversations with crew chief Tony Gibson and teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman. For one, she compared her driving style as ‘smooth' compared to Stenhouse's ‘sideways.' So there's not a lot she believes she could take away from Stenhouse's driving style.

"I drive a little bit more in the Tony Stewart way," Patrick said. "I have a style like him at this point in time. I'm kind of slow in, not heavy braking, and smooth. It allows me to run a free-er car because I'm not so hard on the brake and pitching the car so much.

"I'm just kind of learning more about my style than anything else. There's no changing that really. I think that's one of the great things that Tony Gibson understands and knows. The driver's style is the driver's style and you do the best job you can as a crew chief to adapt to it."

Danica Patrick will make her second start in the Daytona 500 and hopes for better results in this year's event after getting caught up in an early multi-car crash in the 2012 race. Patrick will again drive the no. 10 Go Daddy Chevrolet for Stewart-Hass Racing.

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