Really? The big story of the week is that Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.—a fellow NASCAR driver—are dating?
Well, of course it is. Patrick is one of the most visible female athletes in any sport, and she's cast herself as a sex symbol in her Go Daddy ads and various photo shoots she's done over the years. So of course her love life will be of some interest, especially if she's dating a fellow driver.
However, now that we've learned the pair are dating and have discussed whether it would be a distraction on the track, whether competitors should date at all, blah blah blah, we can all focus on racing again.
More importantly, that's exactly what Stenhouse needs to do.
Patrick, of course, is accustomed to this type of scrutiny. As a female driver—and the first ever to win the Daytona 500 pole, a truly historic moment—her every move is monitored on and off the track. The spotlight is nothing new.
However, Stenhouse is surely not used to that spotlight, and you couldn't blame him if the entire thing was a bit overwhelming. To his credit, he's handled himself well during the whole ordeal and sounds as though he's ready to focus on the track.
Media day, we knew the story was going to be about us. That was really kind of the biggest thing going into this week. But now that we’re on the racetrack and we’ve got races under our belt, … hopefully we can talk about things on the racetrack and that’s what we’re here for.
We’re here to race. Hopefully we can put all our focus on that and go for it.
It didn't seem to distract him during qualifying—he finished 12th overall and won't be far behind his girlfriend on Sunday.
Stenhouse is a pro. I'm sure he can handle a bit of scrutiny surrounding his love life. Heck, he won the past two Nationwide Series titles. A media frenzy isn't going to suddenly cause him to forget how to drive.
At least, it shouldn't. Dating Patrick is going to change his life, make no mistake about it. With that being said, he shouldn't allow it to change his approach to this race, and I'd be shocked if he did.
Now let's all go back to talking about, you know, actual racing.