When two racers are in love, the road of romance occasionally has its bumps.
Or in the case of Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse, there sometimes are hard impacts on a track where the top speed approaches 200 miles per hour.
Such was the case in Saturday night’s season-opening Sprint Unlimited NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway, where both were involved in a nasty nine-car crash that culminated with Stenhouse inadvertently smashing Patrick at nearly full speed.
"Bummer," said Patrick after the crash. "I got wrecked by my boyfriend."
Both racers were running competitively — something that wasn’t always the case in their respective rookie seasons last year — when Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano made contact on Lap 36 of the 75-lap race, triggering the sheet-metal carnage.
Both Patrick and Stenhouse were caught in the initial collision near the start-finish line. Patrick slid down the track and Stenhouse had his hood bent up and couldn’t see. As the two continued down the track, Stenhouse ended up ramming Patrick’s car at nearly full throttle.
Asked if Stenhouse now owed her as a result, Patrick said, "Well, he got me 18 tin cans of Godiva dark chocolate for Valentine’s Day, so I don’t know if he’s trying to butter me up or get me fat. I feel like I have probably got enough. If his hood wouldn’t have been up and had the inability to see obviously there would have been more frustration. It was one of those racing things."
"I couldn’t get out of gear and couldn’t steer," said Stenhouse. "Everything was all bent up, so that’s not the way we wanted it to end, but I thought we learned a lot through the first 35 laps of it, but I definitely would have liked to finish it."