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Danica And Ricky Dominate Valentines Day At DIS

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, February 14 2013

Danica Patrick answered questions at Daytona on Thursday. A couple were actually about racing. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)


Thursday is Daytona 500 media day at Daytona International Speedway. It’s also Valentines Day.

One of the first press conferences of the day featured Danica Patrick and there were very few questions about her first season as a full-time Sprint Cup driver. Same thing when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. appeared.  Instead, the topic of the day was the Patrick-Stenhouse Jr. romance.

The following are full transcripts of the press conferences with Patrick and Stenhouse Jr.

DANICA PATRICK: Okay, let’s do it.

Q. I asked Joey Logano if there any sense in the garage area of a relationship. He laughed and said, Ray Charles could have seen it.

DANICA PATRICK: I’m curious what that means (laughter).

Q. Did you notice that other people were noticing? Did y’all talk in the garage, hang around together around the garage?

DANICA PATRICK: We’ve been friends for a long time. I mean, I’ve always gotten along with him. I guess that is what they observed. They saw something we didn’t know about.

Q. Oh, really?

DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, I mean, here we are now, but…

Q. Are you surprised at the attention it’s gotten from media and fans? Seems like now that’s all anybody wants to talk about.

DANICA PATRICK: Seems like that now. I haven’t been asked that many questions about it. Poor Ricky has been asked a lot of questions. But I haven’t gotten too many. But I’m happy to answer them. I’m happy to talk about it. It’s fine with me.

Q. How is Ricky doing with all this attention?

DANICA PATRICK: I think you have to ask him. Seems like he’s doing pretty well. A little while back he was

Rick Stenhouse Jr. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Christa L Thomas)

talking about not wanting — doesn’t like people looking at him, staring at him. So I’m like, You better get used to that because there’s going to be a lot of people looking at you. He said, No, they’re not, they’re going to be looking at you. I said, No, they’re not, they’re going to be looking at you as well.

Anyway, but he’s doing good. Doing good.

Q. How did it change from a friendship to a little bit more romantic? Who asked whom out first? What was the bud of the thing?

DANICA PATRICK: I mean, the friendship is the bud, for sure. But beyond that, I think it was like, you know, just talking a little bit more often and then deciding to spend time together, and that goes on from there.

Q. Was there a first date?

DANICA PATRICK: I don’t know if you could really say. I mean, I’ve spent so much time with him, whether I have dinner with him or do appearances or things like that, so I think it’s pretty tough to put a first date on anything.

Q. You don’t, like, have an anniversary?

DANICA PATRICK: There was one point in time, though, that I asked him to ask me out on a date, though, because it’s just like you go do something. Are you going to ask me on a date? When was that? It wasn’t that long ago. Just an official one, you know. I can’t remember what the date of that was, though.

Q. What are you guys doing tonight?

DANICA PATRICK: Good question. Well, luckily my bags (luggage) came in. My flight was very delayed out of Chicago, so I caught another flight. They were supposed to be in already. They’re hopefully going to be in in time because my Valentine’s Day present is in that bag. In fact, there’s like a whole bag dedicated to Valentine’s Day.

So what are we doing? I’m going to bet I’m cooking ’cause I cook and he does not cook.

Q. He bought you a card, but you tweeted that you haven’t gotten his yet.

DANICA PATRICK: Oh, no, no, I have a card. What I was saying is in the future, I was saying in the future, when you get my homemade card, it’s like a folded over white piece of paper from the fax machine or from the printer machine, that’s when you’ll know I forgot to get you one and that will be funny. But like I said, I’m creative. So I’ll make it look nice.

Q. Have you ever done a press conference like this before?

DANICA PATRICK: No. This doesn’t feel very racing oriented really. I don’t want to be on this loud speaker, honestly. I asked them if I could not be on it.

Q. Jimmie Johnson said this would be a fun thing to follow because everybody would be watching it. He said, Danica, she can get a little upset and let people know it. Ricky, on the other hand, is never involved in payback much but he drives the car sideways. If Ricky is driving his car sideways and drives it into you, what happens then?

DANICA PATRICK: He better have a really good ‘I’m sorry’. I’m just kidding.

I got a feeling PR is just lurking and sweating their butts off over there.

Q. Can you talk about how you will race each other and eyes will be on you every time you’re near each other.

DANICA PATRICK: I think racing-wise that’s obviously a big question in a lot of people’s minds, fans’ minds. I had a friend say, I’m excited to see how you guys race against each other when you’re out there. That’s someone that isn’t even into racing curious to see how that will go.

We’ve been racing against each other as long as we’ve known each other. So, you know, there are times you’re out there on the track, you don’t even see each other, you’re not even next to each other. Every time we have been, it’s about respect and neither of us put up a big fight.

So far it’s been pretty obvious who is faster than who whenever someone comes up behind the other. For the most part it’s been him faster than me, I would say, of course. The few times it’s happened to me, he doesn’t put up a fight. And I don’t see that any different. I don’t see us putting up a huge battle.

But I’m guessing, I mean, as we keep getting better over the year, over the years, you know, you’re going to end up having to race each other harder because they’re going to be for better spots. But in general, it’s going to be just like it always has been.

Q. Have you sat down with Tony or your sponsors and do they have any interest or care about this?

DANICA PATRICK: You know, when I told them about the relationship, they had no questions about the racing side of it. I think they all trust that both of us are going to do our jobs and do it the way we always have.

Q. Other people, the ones asking, curious about this, have you actually had a conversation with Ricky, If that happens, then this or that? Or do you feel other people are more concerned?

DANICA PATRICK: I think the extent of our conversation about racing with each other is like laughing and saying that I’m going to have to outsmart you because I know you’re not lifting. That’s kind of it.

Q. Did the whole friendship and everything start with you seeking his advice about racecar setups and everything?

DANICA PATRICK: I mean, we first got to know each other in rookie meetings. He was Rookie of the Year in ’10, was that right? So I did race. That was my first year, was ’10. So I saw him in rookie meetings. But it’s funny, basically it will be us in rookie meetings again this year. Since we’re running for Rookie of the Year we have to go to every single track for the rookie meeting. That’s funny.

Q. Does that change the dynamic, both of you vying for the Rookie of the Year?

DANICA PATRICK: Does it change the dynamic of what?

Q. Your interaction on the track when you’re both racing for something.

DANICA PATRICK: You know, I don’t think it does. I think both of us are just going to race really hard and do what we’ve always done. Running for Rookie of the Year is something that’s happening, but it’s not going to make you try any harder. I mean, we both try as hard as we can every time. Kind of where it ends up panning out at the end it does.

I mean, usually at the end of the year, no matter what’s going on, whether it’s Rookie of the Year, whether it’s for a championship position, you kind of put a little emphasis on certain things or start to understand where you’re going to end up just based on points. I mean, that’s 38 races away, or 30. How many races is the season?

Q. 36.


Q. Do you feel like a rookie at this point?

DANICA PATRICK: I definitely feel like a rookie because I know there’s a lot I have yet to experience in Cup, and especially the competition level of that every weekend, and the length of the weekends, adding an extra day on every weekend.

But, honestly, I mean, in my heart I don’t feel like a rookie. I feel like somebody who has a lot of experience but needs to kind of train different. It’s a different car, it’s a different experience. But I feel seasoned and kind of everything else that goes on around it. I guess that’s the reason why I feel pretty comfortable right now.

That’s probably a good thing. Whether I have a situation going on now that y’all are asking about or being in Sprint Cup for the first time this year, it’s nice to have had the experience, media and work-wise and everything outside the car, that helps me be able to focus on my job better because this is less stressful to me.

Q. When you were in IndyCar, you used to express some dismay at the very notion of running 36 races.

DANICA PATRICK: I did. You’re right.

Q. Now that you’re at the brink of this, how does it feel?

DANICA PATRICK: I feel like I had a nice little transition into the length of the season. This will be a whole ‘nother level because we’re adding 30 odd days onto my racing work schedule because of the extra day for Sprint Cup.

But, you know, with doing those two years of part-time Nationwide, it really helps kind of transition into about 30 races a year. Then last year was 34 or something. Now this is going to be 36 or so. So it’s been a nice transition and it doesn’t scare me anymore.

I think more than anything I found something that I really, really enjoy doing. I’ve said it before to people. Driving stock cars, it’s really fun to me. The racing is really fun to me. While I get nervous, it’s something I really care about, I want to do really well. For some reason I have more excitement than I do so much nerves. Like in IndyCar I was always really nervous. I always felt like there was a lot of pressure and I felt like every lap was on the edge. The racing was getting really dicey at the end. People were just all over the place and I felt nervous going into that. Now I just feel excited. I feel a little nervous but definitely more excited.

Q. Mark Martin said he advised you that not only can you slide these cars around, you’ve got to. You felt like you were sort of the Jeff Gordon school of loose and necessarily fast. Ricky is known for sliding these cars around. Do you think talking with him over a period of time you might be more comfortable in a looser car, sliding cars around?

DANICA PATRICK: I think that for me, my driving style is smooth and not heavy braking, so I feel like I’m learning mostly from Tony Gibson, from Tony, from Ryan, just being able to put my driving style compared to them, and then having that translated to words by Tony Gibson as to what that means in a racecar.

I drive a little bit more in the Tony Stewart way. I have a style like him at this point in time. I’m kind of slow in, not heavy braking, and smooth. It allows me to run a freer car because I’m not so hard on the brake and pitching the car so much.

I’m just kind of learning more about my style than anything. There’s no changing that really. I think that’s one of the great things that Tony Gibson understands and knows. The driver’s style is the driver’s style and you do the best job you can as a crew chief to adapt to it.

So I don’t feel like I’m going to change my style based on anything else. I think for me it’s going to be how to get a racecar so I can be fast.

Q. How do you like the new car compared to last year’s car?

DANICA PATRICK: I like the new car’s looks, number one, for sure. Another thing is they do drive maybe a little bit tighter, so that’s kind of nice for me.

I also like the more grip. I mean, I’m used to having so much grip coming from IndyCar that I felt like the tracks I had more grip and was able to carry more load through the corner because of that felt to me most comfortable. I feel like I was able to feel the edge of the car better. I think there’s a lot of things about this car that are good for me.

We have yet to see how it’s going to perform in all aspects yet, especially when all of us get out there on the track, especially at a place like Daytona, or when we get out on a mile-and-a-half. But so far, so good.

Q. What about the laws of unintended consequences with this car that nobody will know what happens between now and the checkered flag?

DANICA PATRICK: As in like what?

Q. A lot can happen with this car that a lot of people are not prepared for.

DANICA PATRICK: I don’t know. Well, I don’t know. If I knew what was unexpected, we would just have the answer then. So I don’t know. I suppose we’ll just all have to see.

But I think one of the things that piques my curiosity and I’m sure a lot of other people’s curiosity is how it went in practice, when all the cars get in pack, how easy it was for people to get turned around. So that could make for some pretty exciting racing for the fans.

Q. You’re running in the Nationwide race here.


Q. Is that a good warmup for Sunday?

DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, so today it’s official that I’m going to run the Nationwide race for Turner Scott Motorsports. Go Daddy stepped up in a big way to make that happen. So it will be the GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, Camaro. How should I say it?

Q. Chevy Camaro.

DANICA PATRICK: How about that? Damn good thing I included Chevrolet in there. I’m getting used to it. It’s a mouthful. Please tell me if I lose my spark. That would be sad (laughter).

I’m glad to be running it because I think it’s really good practice for the race. The racing is very similar from the Nationwide to the Cup car, especially at a place like Talladega or Daytona. I feel like we have a chance to win and that’s exciting.

I appreciate that everyone made it happen and put it together. I don’t even know when the first practice is, but I’m excited about it.

Q. That’s the only race announced?

DANICA PATRICK: At this point in time that’s the only race that’s for sure. Originally we were looking at 10. So anywhere up to 10 would be great. It serves as the ability to go out there and do well, gain confidence, keep confidence up, to be able to get some experience on tracks that just need laps. So more challenging tracks. Also just have a chance to have good races.

Q. What’s the likelihood of 10?

DANICA PATRICK: I think the likelihood of 10 is probably low, but maybe five. That would be good. Probably in the middle of the season, if we only do five, probably good we only did five because it will be very busy.

But as busy as those weekends were that I did both series, I really felt like it ultimately helped each other a lot. So practice in the Cup car helped practice in the Nationwide car and racing the Nationwide car helped racing the Cup car. I feel like they really help each other. It’s a great swimsuit diet in the summer, too.

Q. Your old IndyCar profile under musical tastes used to say, Anything but classical or country.

DANICA PATRICK: You’re right.

Q. I assume rodeo becomes country. So how does that come along?

DANICA PATRICK: Because I went to a rodeo?

Q. I would assume with Ricky’s taste, along with rodeo…

DANICA PATRICK: He definitely loves country. He loves country. He likes a lot of different country. I’m more of the modern kind of country girl. I like more modern country. He likes a lot of the older stuff.

He probably tolerates some of my music that’s a little bit more ’90s. For some reason he doesn’t like ’90s music. He likes ’80s before ’90s. What? Barely just a baby then.

I don’t mind country now, I really don’t. I actually really like it. I think it’s some fun music. It’s great to put on. It’s like you can understand all the words, tell a little story (laughter). But there’s a lot of great artists in country.

Q. You’ve been reluctant to talk about your private life. What makes this different?

DANICA PATRICK: I mean, I’m sure there’s definitely going to be a line. I mean, I’m not going to go into details about my private life all the time. I understand there’s a curiosity for it. To be honest, it’s my life. I have always done everything to my comfort zone level. Once it starts to go beyond that, I just stop.

Whether it’s a photo shoot, whether it’s talking about my life, these are things that I draw the line by instinct. So I don’t think there’s anything too serious talked about today. But I’m sure there will come a day where you ask a question that I don’t want to answer and I’ll tell you I’m not going to answer it.

I mean, I’m just relaxed. Like I feel happy. I feel like I’m just enjoying my life. It makes me smile to talk about him.

Q. I know y’all became friends first, but what attracted you to him?

DANICA PATRICK: I feel like I’m on The Bachelorette. I just had a connection (laughter).

I mean, I think there was just something there. I think you end up finding some kind of a chemistry with someone and you can’t always put it into words what exactly it is. We’ve just always kind of enjoyed being around each other. I think he’s really funny. His jokes are really funny.

Yeah, I just like being around him.

Q. Can you talk about qualifying with the way they’re doing it this year, even though you have points. Have you looked at it?

DANICA PATRICK: I have absolutely no idea how qualifying works. Does anyone? I think I was actually sent like a long email with the way that qualifying works. I didn’t read it. ‘Cause you’re just going to drive as hard as you can, right? What else am I going to do? I got to qualify in the top two or top six, whatever it is. You’re going to go as fast as you can possible can and deal with it afterwards.

I know that with buying the points, what that does for us, it allows us the opportunity to make sure we compete even if there’s a rain situation.

That can happen. It’s that time of year where that can happen. Hopefully everything goes well for the Nationwide race. I remember my first year it rained out qualifying and I had points so it would be fine. It would be a different story now. Hopefully we don’t run into that situation. But it’s very important that it doesn’t happen in Cup.

Q. Within reason and cleanliness —

DANICA PATRICK: Cleanliness? Of people? Yeah, like I said, I thought the bump-drafting jokes were hilarious. It’s going to be like when I’m out there on the track, it would be like me and Dale Jr. bump-drafting, like teammates, and Dale Jr. at Daytona. It’s going to be like that. I feel like that’s kind of the excitement level if we were out there bump-drafting with each other.

I’m not sure I want to be bump-drafting with this car very much. It would be unfortunate if he was pushing me and I was turned around. Clearly it won’t be intentional, but it seems as though that might be a real likelihood in this car with the new changes.

But, anyway, go ahead.

Q. Nationwide garage is full of young, single male drivers.

DANICA PATRICK: I’m too old. I’m too old.

Q. Did anybody else ask you out or hit on you among all those young, single drivers?


Q. I don’t want you to name names.

DANICA PATRICK: There was some curiosity maybe. But I think I scare people, so not a lot. Do I scare people? Maybe I should ask that question.

Q. Did you ever maybe second guess dating Ricky because he is a competitor.

DANICA PATRICK: Sure. I think initially it was a little bit of a mental hurdle of like, We compete against each other. I said it’s like the Capulets and Montagues with Chevy and Ford. This just doesn’t work.

You can’t tell your heart who to like or not like. In the end it ended up being something that I just didn’t think was a big deal at all.

Q. You’re about to start your full Sprint Cup season. Are you anxious, nervous, excited?

DANICA PATRICK: I’m excited. I think of all the years I’ve competed at a top level, I feel like I’m most excited for this season. I really am. I think it’s going to be a fun season. I think it’s going to be a great season.

Q. Do you have a points finish range or set of results you’d like to hit this year to make this a success in your mind?

DANICA PATRICK: I mean, you know, I think it would be great, if I looked at the points from this past year, looked at the people I was competing against last year in those 10 races that I did, if I could be somewhere up a little bit ahead of where that kind of area is, I mean, that’s probably a first blush good spot to hope to be.

But secretly do I hope for more? Of course, I do. I feel like these long races are going to play into my strength of focus, improving on the car, getting more confident and stronger as the race goes on.

There’s too many changes going into this year with the new car, new full-time schedule, all kinds of stuff that it’s going to be really difficult to pin it down. Ask me again when we get a little bit into the season and I think I’ll be a better judge as to where I’m falling into the line.

Thanks. I’m sure everybody enjoyed that.

STENHOUSE Transcript:

HAVE THINGS CHANGED FOR YOU OUT IN PUBLIC SINCE YOU AND DANICA ACKNOWLEDGED YOUR RELATIONSHIP? “No, it hasn’t really changed. Not many people notice me out there. It has been fine. I have been spending most of my time in the shop though. I don’t go out a ton. Everything has been good. Everything is great.”

WHAT DID YOU GET HER FOR VALENTINES DAY? “I got her some fancy playing cards. She likes to play cards a lot. She has been teaching me some of her card games and beating me at them so I have to get better. I bought some cards so I could practice.”

WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST DATE? “We never really had like a first date. She kind of told me to ask her out so I asked her out on a date and we went to dinner. I should probably remember where we went but I can’t remember.”

DO YOU THINK IT WILL AFFECT THE WAY YOU RACE? DO YOU THINK PEOPLE WATCHING WHEN YOU RACE AROUND EACH OTHER WILL GET OLD? “I think for everybody to assume it is going to make me race any different is wrong. It’s not going to. I am respectful to my teammates and I will be respectful to her, but I am respectful to everyone on the race track. I don’t feel like if somebody crashes her I am going to go crash them because of it. I am out there to do my job. I am out there to put on the best performance I can for my sponsors and my team and my fans. I can’t get caught up in any of that. She has been racing for a long time and can handle that situation and I will handle mine. You are probably going to give her a break but it is nothing other than a teammate.”

DO YOU VIEW HER AS A ROOKIE GIVEN HER EXPERIENCE AND YOURSELF AS WELL FOR THAT MATTER? “Yeah, I think so. Anytime you step into a new car and a new series it gets a little difficult. You have a lot more to learn and the cars drive different. She does have more experience in this car, so she has the upper hand in the Rookie of the Year battle. I told her I was going to win. At least we both get to go to the banquet right? I think she definitely is a rookie and I believe I am too.”

YOU SAID YOU WOULD RACE HER AS A TEAMMATE, BUT YOU AREN’T TEAMMATES. “Yeah, I mean I am going to be respectful to her. I have always raced her clean but I feel like I have raced everybody clean. It isn’t like I am going to drive anybody different. I try to give respect to everybody on the race track, no matter who it is, teammate or not. Teammates you give more respect to but along those lines I was saying if someone wrecks one of my teammates I am not going to go wreck them. Same with her. I am not going to retaliate. I have a job to do.”

YOU SEEM LIKE A VERY PRIVATE PERSON. DID YOU HAVE TO MENTALLY PREPARE FOR DEALING WITH THESE QUESTIONS? “Yeah, it is part of it obviously. I think that people question whether you all should report on it or not. Obviously it is a big story. It isn’t my most important story. I am here to race but it is something that you are going to have to deal with and just move on. I think once the season gets going and we can talk about how great this Gen 6 car is going to be and how great the racing is going to be, hopefully it can take a back seat and we can focus on our racing.”

IT IS A BIG STORY IN A LOT OF WAYS BECAUSE IT IS HER. DO YOU WORRY THAT WILL OVER SHADOW WHAT YOU DO ON THE TRACK? “Yeah, the headlines don’t say anything about me. That is cool. I see what you are saying but I am going to take it seriously. If I win a race and it says Danica’s boyfriend wins the race, I don’t know how that will work out. Everybody at Roush Fenway, Zest, Fifth Third, Best Buy, NOS, everybody knows that I am a serious racer and I am here to do the best job for them. Jack doesn’t have any concern on it. My teammates don’t have a concern over it and neither does my team working on the 17 car. Really that is all my concern is, those guys around us putting in the same effort that I do.”

YOU ARE THE TWO-TIME NATIONWIDE CHAMPION. DOES IT BOTHER YOU AT ALL THAT YOU ARE GETTING ASKED ALL ABOUT DANICA AND NOT YOUR OWN ACCOMPLISHMENTS? “It doesn’t bother me. I know it is a big story and people have been waiting to talk about it, waiting to ask about it. I think it is a cool opportunity for me to come into Matt’s (Kenseth) number with a totally different team and because of the story people don’t realize it is a different crew chief, team and over the wall guys. The only thing the same is the number and the sponsors. I think we have accomplished a lot in NASCAR in the Nationwide series and to think that is going to translate right over to the Sprint Cup Series the first year is a little difficult. I think we are capable of doing that though and that is the plan. At the end of the season we want to be talking about our performance.”

DANICA HAS BEEN IN THE PUBLIC EYE SO LONG, HAS SHE TALKED TO YOU ABOUT HOW IT WILL BE? “We have talked about it. She can definitely help out with that because she has experienced a lot of it. You all don’t get to me and it doesn’t bother me what you say. I don’t read articles so it doesn’t really bother me. She knows I spend my time at the shop and focused on our racing. She helps out with that because she has experienced a lot and that has been helpful.”

SHE SEEMED TO BE ALMOST BASKING IN THE YOU AND HER STUFF THIS MORNING. SHE WAS RIGHT ON HER GAME. “Well we are happy and that is good right? I feel like what I have learned in my career in racing is that anytime you are happy off the race track it tends to show up on the race track. That is one good thing that we have going. We are both happy, we are focused on racing and having fun.”

KESELOWSKI SAID IT ISN’T WHAT THEY DO IF THEY ARE DATING IT IS WHAT THEY DO IF THEY BREAK UP. IS THAT INSULTING TO YOU? “Coming from someone that has never had a girlfriend? Sorry, go ahead.” I GUESS THE QUESTION IS THAT HE IMPLIES IF YOU WERE ANGRY WITH EACH OTHER DOWN THE LINE THAT IT COULD IMPACT THE WAY YOU RACE. “I think with anybody that has a relationship whether they are in the sport or not, if you are having problems in the relationship it shows up on the race track no matter who you are. I think he has a point that it does matter if things are going well or not but I think that has to do with anybody. I could be dating somebody that is never at the race track and if you are having problems then it definitely shows up in your work. It doesn’t matter who it is.”

MARK MARTIN SAYS IF SHE STARTING BEATING YOU HE WILL FEEL SORRY FOR YOU. WHAT WOULD THAT BE LIKE IF SHE STARTS BEATING YOU EVERY RACE? “Well, that wouldn’t be good. If we are finishing 1-2 then it would be fine but I think we both have a lot to learn and it is going to be tough for both of us. Obviously the more media I have – she has always had it – you get criticized. I have noticed that with her coming through the Nationwide Series. You get criticized in not performing well. In 2010 I got hammered pretty hard for crashing all the time and not performing. I was able to look past that and keep going.”

HAVE YOU EVER, THROUGH ANY RACING SERIES, BEEN REALLY CLOSE FRIENDS WITH SOMEBODY AND HOW DID THAT RELATIONSHIP PAN OUT ON THE TRACK? ALSO, ONE MOTOR COACH OR TWO? “Two. You know, Trevor and I are great friends and we were racing for a championship and were one-point separated when he got sick. If you ask him and ask me and go back and watch we raced really hard on the race track. We were respectful and gave ourselves enough room. Off the track we hung out all the time and I think that is just part of it. I think there are a lot of drivers in the garage that are good friends off the track that go out and race hard. We both still have a job to do.”

WHAT NICKNAME DO YOU GUYS PREFER? “I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me. I am not going to use any of those hash tags so whatever you all want.”

HAS ANYONE FROM THE BUSINESS OR MARKETING THINGS TALKED TO YOU ABOUT DOING THINGS TOGETHER? “No, they have not. This off season has been busy with going to our sponsors Best Buy and everybody. I did a new hire orientation at Best Buy and that was fun. Nobody has talked about anything with the two of us.”

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO EACH OTHER? “Is that a question, really?” WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT HER? “She is hot! No, we have had a friendship for a long time and I can’t cook and she can. She loves to cook, so that is nice and I love to eat. We get a long really well. I have never had someone that I can talk racing with and I wasn’t 100-percent sure how I would like that but I have enjoyed it. I think we can learn a lot from each other and be successful.”

ARE YOU RELIEVED THIS IS OUT IN THE OPEN? “Yeah, it is fun. It was obviously going to come out sometime.”

WILL FOLKS BE ABLE TO FOLLOW YOUR EXPLOITS ON TWITTER? “Probably not too much. Maybe a little here and there. I think fans still like to know what is going on and that is what we do Twitter for, to engage the fans and let them know what is going on. Most fans seem to be interested in it. Then again, I don’t want to blow up peoples Twitter feeds with it. We will be respectful to everybody.”

THIS IS A BIG RACE COMING UP, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE DAYTONA 500? “I am excited about the race. Testing was great here. The things they have done with the Gen 6 car for driving here at Datyona, set up is going to be key. The track is getting a little older so the grip level is going down and the down force on the car isn’t very much. The cars are dancing around a lot and I think you are going to have to have a good driving race car. In the past that has produced really good races here at Datyona. Right before they paved the race track that was some of the coolest racing that we went to. It is going to get back to that. I think NASCAR has done a great job with it. The 500 is going to be exciting and hopefully we can get this done with this week and talk about the Daytona 500.”

WHAT IS YOUR GOAL FOR THE SEASON? “I haven’t had specific goals that I’ve set for the season but I don’t think it is past us to go win races. We are going to go out each and every week – I had a team meeting with the guys yesterday before I came down and I wanted them to know that I was going to the race track prepared to win every week. If you don’t prepare to win every week you will never achieve it. I wanted them all on the same page. I feel confident in the crew guys and the race car we have put together. The test has been great. We have tested all kinds of tracks and I feel really comfortable in the race car. I think if we can be smooth the first 10 races and really not have any big issues and evaluate where we are and go from there it will set up the rest of the season off of that after the first 10.”

JUST TO BE ON THE RECORD. IF YOU ARE RUNNING THIRD ON THE LAST LAP AT DAYTONA WITH TWO CARS IN FRONT OF YOU. DANICA IS ONE SIDE AND A TEAMMATE ON THE OTHER. WHICH CAR DO YOU GET BEHIND? “At Daytona there is enough room for three, so I am going three wide. That is a good scenario. I hope we win.”

RUSTY WALLACE TALKED ABOUT AT A YOUNG AGE BEING COCKY. DO YOU THINK PEOPLE MIGHT SAY YOU EXUDE CONFIDENCE? “I think at the beginning at 2010 they could say I didn’t have any confidence. I think it is to a point. I can definitely see what he says about looking back but mainly I think you can be cocky and still be respectful to everybody else at the same time. I feel confident in my ability and confident in the ability of our race teams. I think you have to have confidence to be a little cocky. You have to be respectful at the same time though. That is a tough thing to balance but listening to that it is nice knowing that people want to look back and wish they weren’t so cocky. You try to balance that and still be respectful.”

DID YOU HAVE ANY HESITATION DATING DANICA WITH THE WHOLE CHEVY VS. FORD ANGEL OR THE FACT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE RIVALS OUT THERE? “No, not really. There wasn’t really any hesitation. I think that you are excited about it at first. You are ready to go and it is exciting and then you think about how everybody is going to take it. What are the fans going to think? What will other drivers think? I think it has been fairly good. Everyone has been pretty supportive of it. I wasn’t too nervous about it. Maybe a little bit though.”

DID YOU MAKE IT TO FENWAY PARK LAST YEAR? “I went to a sponsor summit there but wasn’t able to go to the game.”

ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH THE SUPPORT YOU ARE GETTING FROM THE FENWAY END OF THINGS GIVEN THEIR SOCCER AND BASEBALL OBLIGATIONS? “Yeah, they are passionate about Roush Fenway and definitely are working closely with Jack to help the sponsorship side of things and help the things they can help with. They don’t know about our competition side to really contribute to that they way they know their baseball and soccer but they are huge supporters. John Henry is a cool part-owner to have. I think anytime you can be associated with a team like Roush Fenway, the Red Sox it is a big opportunity for us.”

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, February 14 2013
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