Danica Patrick Dating Ricky Stenhouse Will Be Huge Boost for NASCAR

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IJanuary 26, 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

The media attention surrounding the need-for-speed couple that is Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse is going to get tiring in a hurry, but NASCAR is going to get a huge boost because of it.  

In fact, the news of these two competitors dating—which Danica confirmed on Friday in an interview with the Associated Press—may already be getting tiring for racing fans. It's not like it has quietly burst on the scene. 

The insanity that this off-the-track news is creating is well represented by this tweet from CBS Sports' Pete Pistone:

Seriously first question asked to AJ Foyt in Daytona media center was about Danica-Stenhouse Jr.? The embarrassment is beyond belief...

— Pete Pistone (@PPistone) January 26, 2013

This is a ridiculous question to use to greet one of the true legends of racing. In fact, it could easily be viewed as insulting. That said, the fact that it was asked means good things for the business of NASCAR.

For starters, this is going create new interest in the sport. In many ways, Danica is bigger than racing, as she has plenty of fans who have never tuned into a NASCAR event, and even more who know who she is, but know little else about the sport.

Now all of these people who know Danica, but didn't follow racing, are hearing about NASCAR while being given an angle that is really new territory for professional sports. 

If any sport nearing mainstream has had two competitors confirm they were dating, I've certainly missed it. 

Now we have the lightning rod that is Danica Patrick dating one of her competitors in her first full Sprint Cup season. 

Is this relationship going to send Patrick and Stenhouse, who race for different teams, scrambling to help each other? Will they be racing's first power-drafting couple? Will either driver look to exact revenge if someone bumps their sweetheart into the wall? 

And all of this will pale in comparison if the two break up. There are few things more exciting in NASCAR than two rival drivers going head to head on the track, and those two rivals have never been a bickering couple. 

Let's just envision for a moment that one of these two discovers the other is cheating on them prior to a race. That scorned lover will then be hopping in a giant steel machine to travel at lethal speeds. That is enough to push even the most level-headed driver beyond Kyle Busch levels of aggression. 

There is not going to be a lack of interesting angles created by this relationship, and there are enough to pique the interest of those who never would have given NASCAR a second thought otherwise.