Danica Patrick is dating Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

In the three years writing this column, there has never been a more appropriate time to break down this racing bombshell, Bert Convy style, than now.

On a scale of 1-10, this is 245 for the NASCAR publicity machine. People who read this site love racing. But it pains me to type that racing isn’t as mainstream now as it was five years ago. And as sports struggle with live event attendance, this relationship provides fodder that gets covered on TMZ, entertainment shows and sports talk platforms. That coverage gets people to buy tickets. This relationship is a goldmine covered in gold….and bacon.

Lose: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

This loss has nothing to do with the relationship and how long it lasts. But Stenhouse Jr. was arriving as under the radar as you can for winning two titles on the Nationwide Series, even if he went to QVC looking for sponsors. That anonymity died with this news.

What was born are unnecessary relationship issues. Consider the following realistic situations:

  • What does Stenhouse Jr. do is someone wrecks his girlfriend?
  • What does Stenhouse Jr. do is Patrick is involved in an altercation with a Roush or Ford driver?
  • What does Stenhouse Jr. do when he has a better season but plays second fiddle to his girlfriend at some cheesy awards event?

Being a celebrity’s partner has the success rate comparable to a utility infielder’s batting average. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. dating Danica Patrick has created drama that has to influence his 2013 Sprint Cup season.

Draw: Danica Patrick

Again, this has nothing to do with the relationship or how long it lasts. From a celebrity perspective, Danica Patrick dating Ricky Stenhouse Jr. gets casual fans interested in Danica’s new brand. That stabilizes sponsorships, which in 2013 Sprint Cup racing is a win.

Here’s the problem. At some point Danica Patrick’s off track sizzle will dissipate. It did in IRL. The long-term key to Patrick’s success lies in successful racing. Just compare Maria Sharapova to Anna Kournivoka.

There is already resentment among drivers when noncompetitive teams start, park and impact race finishes. Just ask David Reutimann. If Patrick struggles and receives more notoriety than successful teams, there has to be a carryover on the track.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick both deserve hapinenss in their personal lives. If the two of them being together makes it happen, congratulations to both. What we know for sure is that the racing world will be watching.  We’ll find out together if people like what they see.