NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

 
            === Patrick confirms relationship with Stenhouse Jr. ===
 
 Charlotte,  NC  (Sports Network) - Danica  Patrick has put to rest rumors that
 she and fellow NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are an item.
 
 In  a  report published on  Friday, Patrick told  the Associated Press that "I
 have  a boyfriend,  his name is Richard." The 30-year-old Patrick later posted
 on  her  Twitter account, "Thanks everyone  for all of your nice messages, and
 the bump drafting jokes are cracking me up! Let the fun begin."
 
 Stenhouse,  25, also  confirmed to  AP that  he and  Patrick are  dating. Both
 drivers  waited to publicly reveal their relationship after this week's NASCAR
 media  tour in  Concord, NC.  There had  been recent  rumors that  Patrick and
 Stenhouse are a couple.
 
 Both  drivers are  competing for 2013 rookie  of the year honors in the Sprint
 Cup  Series. Stenhouse  won his second straight Nationwide Series championship
 this  past  season. He will drive  the No. 17  Ford for Roush Fenway Racing in
 Sprint Cup this year. Patrick will be behind the wheel of the No. 10 Chevrolet
 for  Stewart-Haas Racing in NASCAR's top division after she was honored as the
 most popular driver in Nationwide.
 
 Stenhouse  was  asked several times  during his media availability on Thursday
 about his relationship with Patrick.
 
 "I  don't like to talk too much about my personal life," he said. "We've got a
 great  relationship. Obviously, it started when she first came into the sport.
 We  were both going to rookie meetings (in Nationwide). It's been cool to work
 with her in the Nationwide Series. I felt like she could come to me for advice
 with the experience that I've had."
 
 Earlier  this  month, Patrick filed  for divorce from husband Paul Hospenthal,
 who  is age 47, after a seven-year marriage. She announced their separation on
 her Facebook page in November.
 
 Even  though they  are competitors, NASCAR does not have an issue with Patrick
 and Stenhouse's romantic relationship.
 
 "This  relationship in  no way violates any rules or regulations of the sport,
 so  we have zero concerns, particularly since we're talking about two fiercely
 competitive  individuals who both  want to win NASCAR races and be the best at
 what they do," NASCAR spokesman David Higdon told USA Today.
 
 Last  year, Patrick competed in 10 Sprint Cup races, while Stenhouse made four
 starts in the series.
 
 "It's  going to be fun racing her for rookie of the year," Stenhouse noted. "I
 want to win rookie of the year just as bad as she does."
 
 
 01/25 15:12:34 ET

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