Stenhouse talks Danica and her big crash

FORT WORTH, Texas – Give Ricky Stenhouse Jr. credit for keeping his sense of humor since he’s been caught up in the Danica mania in the Sprint Cup circuit.

Stenhouse, who is dating Danica Patrick, handled a question about his off-the-track life with ease Monday at Texas Motor Speedway’s media day.

“The golf game’s great off the track,” Stenhouse joked.

As for his relationship with Patrick, whom Stenhouse is vying for rookie of the year honors with?

“There are lots of people who are paying attention to her and I guess they’re paying attention to me now,” Stenhouse said. “That’s been a little different. But all in all, it’s been very good. Things have been great on that side of things. We’re batting for rookie of the year. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I told her I was going to win so I’ve got to hold my end up on that.”

Stenhouse, who took over the No. 17 ride for Roush Fenway Racing, has the early edge on the rookie of the year honors. He finished 16th at Daytona and followed that up with a 12th-place finish Sunday in Phoenix, putting him ninth in points. Patrick is now 22nd after a crash in Phoenix relegated her to 39th place.

The hit Patrick took Sunday was a hard one and Stenhouse knew it. Despite that, he realizes that once the race begins, his focus is the event.

“Coming around the corner and seeing all the sheet metal and the form from the door pad out, I knew it was a pretty hard hit and I felt like they would have told me if would have been hurt,” Stenhouse said of the crash. “But I feel like NASCAR has done a really good job, especially with the Gen-6 car, at making them safe, so I really wasn’t too worried and like I’ve been telling people from the start of this, when we’re on the racetrack we’re focused on what we’re doing.”