Love and racing can sometimes be a dicey combination, as Danica Patrick knows only too well.
Friday at Dover International Speedway, Patrick had to defend two of the most significant men in her life: Her love interest and fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie of the year candidate, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and her boss, Tony Stewart.
Stenhouse triggered a late-race crash in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 that effectively took Patrick out of the race, along with 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski. Stenhouse used to drive open-wheel cars for Stewart, who said that Stenhouse was like family to him but Stewart nevertheless wanted to choke him after the race.
Patrick’s answer when queried about her boss’s statement was diplomatic.
“Don’t you want to choke your kids every now and then?” Patrick asked reporters at Dover Friday morning. “I mean everybody wants to choke their kids, or their dad, or son, or significant other at times. So, I think that is a comment out of love no doubt.”
She declined to say what transpired after the race between the two men after the race.
“That’s between them and I know they had a conversation about Sunday night,” Patrick said. “We (she and Stewart) talked about it a little bit, too. He loves him like a son he said. So, you would never hurt your son. You would only try to help your son. I think that’s the moral of that story.”
As for her relationship with Stenhouse, Patrick said what happened in Charlotte stayed in Charlotte.
“I was definitely upset and angry about the situation,” Patrick said. “I was a little bit upset with him. Yeah, I was and we talked about it. It’s absolutely fine now and we were fine by the end of the ride home. That’s what happens out there. Tensions are high and so are emotions.”
And, no, Stenhouse did not take her out to dinner to make up for it.
“Went home and went right to bed,” said Patrick. “I think I ate something on my bus. I think I had half of a banana, a little chocolate protein shake and two beers. That’s what I had.”
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100.