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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick will be on track together again in less than a month at Daytona Speedweeks, but for the first time since the two announced in December that they had ended their five-year relationship.
Questions persisted when the two began dating on how they’d race each other on the track. On Tuesday at the NASCAR Media Tour Presented by Charlotte Motor Speedway, Stenhouse addressed if it will be different this time around.
“I don’t think I’ll race any differently,” Stenhouse Jr. said. “I try to respect everybody around me, especially at speedway races. You don’t want to put somebody in a bad spot because you’ll put everybody in a bad spot. I’ll go out and race just like I’m racing everybody else and see how it plays out.
“Heck, when we first started racing we got in crashes anyway,” he added with a laugh. “So it is what it is. I’ll just go compete as hard as I can. I plan on putting myself in position to win the race.”
Patrick announced in November that she was retiring from full-time competition after the 2017 season, following five years at Stewart-Haas Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
At the time, she said she hoped to compete in both the 2018 Daytona 500 and 2018 Indianapolis 500, which she coined the “Danica Double.” Since then, Patrick has confirmed that she is now dating Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers and that she’s locked in her Daytona 500 plans — she’ll drive the Premium Motorsports GoDaddy No. 7 Chevrolet, with Tony Eury Jr. serving as crew chief.
“It was just a matter of time,” Stenhouse said of Patrick’s Daytona 500 plans. “Like I’ve always said, I think it’s a cool way to retire. For somebody who’s done the Daytona 500, run in NASCAR, run in IndyCar, I think it’ll be cool for (her) to hit the two biggest races of the year.”