Danica 'honest' with Stenhouse about wreck
May 31, 2013, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders sort out Coca-Cola 600 accident on way home from track
DOVER, Del. -- You bet. Danica Patrick readily admits she was miffed at her boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after the two of them –- along with reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champ Brad Keselowski –- crashed late in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.
But after a ride home with Stenhouse that included many “silent moments,” Patrick insists everything was fine. They had beers together later that night and spent the next day relaxing on the lake.
"We’re just very honest and keep things simple. We didn’t even talk about what we were going to say. The only thing to know is we are honest about the things that happened, and it was just a racing incident."
--Danica Patrick on relationship with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Patrick was still good-naturedly answering questions about the incident Friday at Dover, Del. and wasn’t a bit surprised about all the interest the story has generated.
“Of course, there’s a little bit of a human interest story there with having Ricky and I being involved in that accident and being in the same general vicinity,’’ Patrick told reporters prior to opening Cup practice at Dover International Speedway. “I understand that, but at the same time, he was part of the three-wide that made the accident so it’s legitimately something that should be asked.
“We’re just very honest and keep things simple. We didn’t even talk about what we were going to say. The only thing to know is we are honest about the things that happened, and it was just a racing incident.
“We’re going to give our perspective on what happened. I understand it’s interesting. I’m sure I’d want to know how that all went down after the race too. We’re an entertainment sport.”
“I was definitely upset and angry about the situation. I was a little bit upset with him and we talked about it. It’s absolutely fine now, and we were fine by the end of the ride home. That’s what happens out there. Tensions are high and so are emotions.’’
Those emotions extended to Patrick’s team owner Tony Stewart, who criticized Stenhouse on SIRIUS XM Radio after Sunday’s race saying that although Stenhouse is “like family” he would “choke (him) right now if I could get to him” for some of his recent racing moves.
Despite the fact Keselowski immediately shouldered the bulk of the blame for the Charlotte accident -- he said he didn’t realize they were three-wide –- Stewart and Patrick questioned Stenhouse’s hard racing at the time. He was two laps down, and Patrick was contending to become beneficiary of the free pass that would have put her back on the lead lap as the race wound down.
A week later, Patrick chalks it up to hard racing and different agendas.
And, she reminded, Stewart and Stenhouse are actually good friends.
“Don’t you want to choke your kids every now and then?’’ Patrick joked about Stewart’s word choice. “That’s between them, and I know they had a conversation about it Sunday night. He (Stewart) loves him (Stenhouse) like a son. You’d never hurt your son; you’d only help your son.’’
Stewart didn’t just single out Stenhouse. He also suggested on the radio that maybe all the rookies and several young racers could use a reminder on racing etiquette.
“If Tony’s hard on rookies, I just thank the good Lord above I’m on his team,’’ Patrick said laughing.
“What I’d say about Tony is he wants to help teach the rookies. ... the rookies he respects and feel like they should get that time of day. If he didn’t think they were good, he wouldn’t try to help them because they won’t be around for long in his opinion.
“He wants them to learn to play the game the way he’s learned to play the game, and he’s been around a long time and has been very successful. It’s actually a good thing that he wants to help and will speak up because, at the end of the day, we don’t see each other every two weeks; we see each other every five days and you need to take care of those relationships or they can bite you.’’
As far as Patrick is concerned, Charlotte was a good lesson in many regards. Since she and Stenhouse went public with their romance in the preseason, she had been expecting increased scrutiny during this first-of-its-kind Sunoco Rookie of the Year battle.
“These are racing things, you know,’’ Patrick said. “We find ourselves frustrated with other drivers all the time along the way. There are lots of them. It’s just one of those things that we had to deal with, but we knew that and we’re better for it.’’
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