Crash course in dating: Danica, Stenhouse tangle
July 14, 2013, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
LOUDON, N.H. -- For the second time this season, NASCAR’s two-person Sprint Cup Series rookie class -- the sport’s most famous racing couple Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – were involved together in a high profile incident.
Patrick was apologetic after her Chevy slid into Stenhouse’s Ford in Turn 1 with 62 laps remaining in the race while they were running mid-pack. The contact also collected Travis Kvapil and brought out the 10th caution of the day.
Standing by her wrecked No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet in the garage afterward, Patrick explained to reporters what happened and took responsibility for the situation.
“I’m not sure if I misjudged the braking zone or if they stopped really quick in front of me,’’ said Patrick, who was credited with a 37th place finish in her New Hampshire Cup debut.
“At the end of the day, it was me that was sideways, so I’m sorry. I feel bad. What can I say? We were having a reasonable race and just didn’t mean to do it.”
"At the end of the day, it was me that was sideways, so I’m sorry."
-- Danica Patrick
It ended the afternoon for Kvapil, but Stenhouse was able to continue after the accident and finished 34th -- albeit 27 laps down.
In talking about the situation, Stenhouse never referred to Patrick by name, instead only by car number. But he chalked the whole incident up to an honest mistake and his demeanor after the race was calm and understanding.
“I haven’t seen a replay of what happened but (crew chief) Scott (Graves) said the 10 (Patrick) might have got into me, or the 93 (Kvapil) or somebody. I thought it was the 93,’’ Stenhouse said.
“It’s not the first time you get crashed on accident. I have crashed people on accident as well. It is part of it. It is the first crash we have had in a long time so we are pretty lucky that we have been making it to the end of these races. It is kind of what has kept us where we are in points. We didn’t have a good car anyway today.”
It’s not the first time Stenhouse and Patrick have collided on-track either and both have always candidly said it’s to be expected because of the nature of the sport.
Patrick joked that it was a quiet ride home after their run-in at Charlotte, but that they were sharing a beer by the end of the night -- essentially chalking it up to a racing inevitability.
They also both realize that because of the unique situation their romantic relationship creates, the spotlight will shine more brightly.
"I understand it’s interesting," she said after Charlotte. "I’m sure I would want to know how that all went down after the race too. We’re an entertainment sport, so I get it."
This time, it looks like Stenhouse -- a two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion -- will have the chance to take the higher road. And he’ll have plenty of time for the opportunity since the series heads into a rare off-week.
The couple had plans to attend the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles this week and later Patrick was to be in a wedding in Indianapolis, where the series will next race, July 28.
“It is just part of it,’’ Stenhouse said allowing a smile. “Like I told these guys, I have been wrecked before and wrecked people myself.
“I didn’t have good brakes and I was complaining about it all race. I don’t know if anyone else was having problems with it. In practice we had some problems of getting in the brake and it darting left pretty quick with the front end suspension and the way the geometry is.
“It is all part of it. We will take the weekend off and go to Indy.”