KANSAS CITY, Kan. - For Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick, racing is never a joking matter, and their boyfriend / girlfriend relationship is all the better for it.
So when Stenhouse won last Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, the last thing he thought about doing was lording his triumph over Patrick, who had crashed out of the race and watched the finish from the motorhome she and Stenhouse share.
It was a breakthrough victory for Stenhouse, who won for the first time in his 158th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start. Patrick is winless in 164 starts in NASCAR's top series.
"We don't talk about it," Stenhouse said. "I mean, we are like every other driver. Everybody wants to win. I didn't have bragging rights with anybody else that hasn't won either. We just go out and try to win."
To Patrick, the level of their commitment to racing precludes any sort of teasing or levity.
"We absolutely never mess with each other when it comes to that stuff," she said. "I think it's obviously because it means so much to us that it is a pretty crappy thing to do. Would you mess with your wife or girlfriend? I mean when it comes to golf or something I will totally mess with him, but when it comes to something like this, no.
"We don't talk about that at all. I was just simply happy for him, and my weekend sucked yet again. Actually, my weekend didn't really suck. I had a fine race going on. It just ended early, so I had another terrible result, which has been the case so far this year. But if I was going to have one race where I didn't get to get all the way to the finish line and either finish the race, have a good finish or win, I am really glad I had the chance to watch him win."
When the race ended, Patrick hustled to Victory Lane to congratulate her boyfriend.
"All I did was throw my tennis shoes on and got out the door on the golf cart and went to Victory Lane and waited for him to pull in," Patrick said. "That was a gift of an experience to be able to have in our relationship, because most of the time I would be dealing with my team and dealing with whatever I had going on.
"I had that chance to regroup. I was fresh as a daisy. I had showered and spent the afternoon standing around celebrating with him. It was a great day. But we don't talk about that stuff."
JAMIE MCMURRAY WILLING TO CEDE HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE
Now that Columbia, Mo., native Carl Edwards has stepped away from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing, who might be his logical replacement in the Kansas / Missouri home track rivalry at Kansas Speedway against Emporia, Kan., native son Clint Bowyer.
Joplin, Mo., product Jamie McMurray might seem the best choice, but the driver of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet would prefer to stay under the radar.
"I feel like Carl and Clint play that up more than what I do," McMurray said. "I grew up in Missouri, and that's always going to be my home town, but I've lived in North Carolina for 20 years now, or longer than that. And, that's my home and that's where my kids are from.
"I would love to win at Kansas Speedway, but I want to win there because it's where we race this weekend, not necessarily because I grew up 200 miles south of here. So, I'm going to let Clint have that 'hometown track thing' and I'm just going to be Jamie."
That's not to say McMurray does have deep ties to his home state. When Joplin was devastated by an EF-5 tornado in May 2011, McMurray was front-and-center in the relief efforts for his home town.
HOME IMPROVEMENT SHOW WASN'T AN OFFSHOOT OF EARNHARDT'S RETIREMENT
No, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not about to become the next Bob Vila.
And the do-it-yourself home improvement show that will feature Earnhardt and wife Amy early next year isn't related to the driver's impending retirement from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing.
Rather, it's a way for Earnhardt and his wife to make improvements to their home in Key West, Fla., without breaking the bank.
"We bought this property in Key West a long time ago," Earnhardt said. "We didn't know what to do with it. And I was trying to figure out a way to renovate it but stay reasonable on our expense. And we also had some friends that we knew at the DIY Network and HGTV. And we reached out to those guys and said, 'Hey, we really want to renovate this property.'
"There's kind of a cool process that you go through in Key West with the historical foundation on how you can renovate homes down there and what you can fix and can't fix. Like if you have a rotten board, they only let you replace the rotten area. You've got to keep the rest, and so on. And they go through the whole house sort of picking apart what you can and can't fix. So, I was thinking this would make a great show."
What will air is a four-part series that highlights the renovations to the home.
"I think people connect this to the retirement, and it's absolutely not connected in any way," Earnhardt said. "We were talking to them two and a half years ago about could we do this and would this be interesting to them. Would I have the time to do it? And we finally got it agreed upon to put it together.
-- NASCAR Wire Service --