Danica Patrick Boyfriend Rumors: Dating Fellow Driver Wouldn't Hurt Performance

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2013

DOVER, DE - SEPTEMBER 29:  Danica Patrick, driver of the #7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, talks to Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #6 Cargill/Rancher's Reserve Ford, on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series OneMain Financial 200 at Dover International Speedway on September 29, 2012 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Sorry, guys. It appears that Danica Patrick is once again off the market.

Bob Pockrass of Sporting News wrote that Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who have spent time together on the NASCAR Nationwide Series, have taken their friendship to the next level.

While he refrained from confirming the rumors, Stenhouse acknowledged during the Sprint Media Tour that the two have been and continue to be friends:

“We’ve got a great relationship,” Stenhouse said. “Obviously that started when she first came into the sport. We were both going to rookie meetings. It’s been cool to work with her in the Nationwide Series.

“I felt like she could come to me for advice with the experience that I’ve had.”

With Patrick's divorce set to be official soon, the rumors will be flying regarding whom the 30-year-old driver is dating. She is one of the most popular female athletes in the world

It's going to be almost impossible to prove Stenhouse and Patrick are dating without either of the two publicly saying they're actually dating.

However, there seems to be at least some substance to this rumor. They're clearly very good friends, and with Patrick now available, it's natural that what were simply friendly gestures before would begin to take on a different meaning now.

Should the two start dating, it would make for an interesting and unique dynamic on the track—boyfriend and girlfriend going up against each other while behind the wheel of a car in excess of 3,400 pounds.

It would be foolish, though, to think that it would adversely affect either of their performances on the track. Of course, a critic might say that nothing could actually hurt Patrick that much, considering her record already.

Patrick and Stenhouse are professionals. They know how to separate what's happening on the track from what's happening off the track.

It's not as if they're going to go easy on each other simply because they're in a relationship. Should something go wrong, they're not going to run each other off the track.

There's too much on the line for Stenhouse and Patrick to let their emotions cloud their performances.

Stenhouse is the reigning two-time champion of the Nationwide Series, so he's clearly talented. Regardless of the results, it's apparent how competitive Patrick is by how upset she is when things don't go her way in a race.

Really, they're two grown adults, and they have every right to choose with whom they want to enter a relationship. If Stenhouse and Patrick want to reveal they're in a relationship, that's fine. If not, it's nobody's business.

You can rest assured this will not be the last time the rumors about Stenhouse and Patrick occupy the sports pages.