Lovebirds Danica and Ricky in Year Two, but who’s beating who?

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (left) topped girlfriend Danica Patrick (right) for Sprint Cup Series rookie-of-the-year honors last season.

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

I know a lot of people are already asking, only eight races in, if there has been any real improvement from Dancia Patrick, or is she still basically where she was last year. I actually think Danica has shown some improvement.

How much improvement?

Well, if you want to put it on a scale of 1 to 5, it might only be a 2.

Even if it’s only a 2, an improvement is an improvement. I still think folks are being a little overly critical already, simply because of who she is. I would wager they aren’t that overly critical on all the other second-year drivers who have come before her.

DANICA'S BEST

If you want to compare her to someone more current, look no further than her boyfriend, two-time Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who is also in his sophomore season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup season. He really hasn’t performed that much better than Danica.

Sure, Ricky had a second-place finish at Bristol but, other than that, he easily hasn’t performed up to anyone’s expectations including his own.

Some folks are also quick to say, "Well, it’s just the normal sophomore slump." I’€™ve never been a big believer in that. Sure, it’s a nice little cliche that we in the media like to point to and throw out there, but I just don’t buy it.

I just think you start to really see whether a driver really "gets it or not," and what is it going to take to help him or her step it up.