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The Final Word – Ricky and Danica…or…when romance passes the checkered flag

It is over. I am not just talking about my writing hibernation. It is not like I was just jumping at the bit to return, but sometimes you hear some news and you feel the need to say something, to make comment, to share your observations. Today is that day.

Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., a.k.a. Daniky, Ricica, Stentrick, is no more. The end came last month, hopefully in time to prevent the buying of an awkward gift. Five years ago, of all the race tracks, in all the towns, in all the world, Danica drove into Ricky’s. We sweet scribes were joyous, as they gave us an easy out when troubled with writer’s block. They allowed us to raise speculation to ridiculous heights on the possible issues arising at home when one of them crumpled the metal of the other on the track. Now, we are left with the reality of Paradise Lost. Now, it is back to rounding up the usual suspects for storylines, commenting solely on the results of Stenhouse in the car. Ricky, here’s looking at you kid.

As for the heroine of our saga, she has moved on. When she left NASCAR, she truly left it. What is actress Olivia Munn’s loss, who I loved in The Newsroom, is Patrick’s gain. She is now the quarterback’s girl. Green Bay pivot Aaron Rogers, Super Bowl champ and MVP, twice judged the top dog in the NFL, and six-time Pro Bowler, is now her guy. She is lost to us, no doubt the future subject of some fellow writing for Yet, she left us with memories.

After leaving IndyCar as its six-time Most Popular Driver, and a win in Japan in 2008, she came to NASCAR. They loved her in Nationwide back in 2012, winning Most Popular there, too. In 2013, she opened her full-time Cup career with taking the pole for the Daytona 500. The lady appeared about to kick ass. Well, so it appeared.

In 61 Nationwide events, she claimed a pole and seven Top Tens. In 190 Cup races, she claimed that one pole and another seven Top Tens. Her best finish was sixth in a 2014 Atlanta race. As a driver with top-flight equipment, she was not notable. As a woman, she was something of a pioneer. Patrick was the first to lead a lap at both the Indianapolis and Daytona 500 races, she took the pole at Daytona, and there is that IndyCar win in Japan. She was the first active driver to date one of her competitors, and now the first part-time driver to date a Green Bay Packer. Now we have something in common. Danica and I will both be cheering on the Packers next season.

Yet, the Packers are done until next fall and NASCAR and Stenhouse do not return to action for another month. While I wish the new couple all the best, as I have no reason not to, I shall return to my hibernation. As for racing, at least we will always have Daytona and Patrick’s probable final run in the Great American Race.

Good night, good night. Parting is such sweet sorrow that I’ll say goodnight until tonight becomes tomorrow…or more truthfully, until sometime in February.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


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