Danica Patrick, the Picasso of NASCAR?

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As one of the most popular and publicized athletes on the planet, there are few secrets about NASCAR driver Danica Patrick that aren’t already known.

That is until Wednesday when Patrick’s boyfriend and fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., was asked by MotorSportsTalk if there was something he could reveal about Patrick that isn’t common knowledge.

Stenhouse took the question in good fashion, pondered his response and then surprised a bunch of reporters who aren’t very easily surprised by anything in the sport.

“I learned this offseason that she’s a really good painter,” Stenhouse said. “She started painting. We were at a friend’s house and my friend’s wife and her mom and their daughter were painting, and Danica started painting.

“She painted this picture of this barn and this tree that she was looking at, and it turned out real well. So I built the frame for it and we put it up in the house. I think she was a little surprised that I was surprised. I didn’t think she could do that, but it turned out pretty good.”

Apparently Patrick’s penchant for painting may have stemmed from the highly-publicized body painting commercial she did for GoDaddy.com and was featured on the 2012 Super Bowl telecast.

Stenhouse won’t be following in his girlfriend’s brush strokes, though, any time soon. He may be talented behind the wheel, but certainly not with canvas, an easel and a paint palette.

“No, I’m definitely not a painter,” Stenhouse said. “I can paint walls, but I’m not going to paint you a scene.”

Danica Patrick, race car driver, pin up icon, commercial spokeswoman and, of course, a GoDaddy girl has an artistic side? Could she soon be the Picasso of NASCAR?

Who knew?

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Sebastien Bourdais

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. A dream start occurred for Sebastien Bourdais and the Dale Coyne Racing team upon their reunion, followed by a nightmare in Indianapolis with a huge crash in qualifying, and ended with a rapid recovery to build confidence for 2018.

Sebastien Bourdais, No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda

  • 2016: 14th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 3rd, 1 Podium, 3 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 24 Laps Led, 11.9 Avg. Start, 11.2 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 21st Place (8 Starts), 1 Win, Best Start 6th, 2 Podiums, 2 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 74 Laps Led, 12.4 Avg. Start, 11.0 Avg. Finish

The 2017 campaign for Sebastien Bourdais upon his return to Dale Coyne Racing will forever be known as both a year of “what could have been” and a year of “what a comeback it was.”

The abnormal season for Bourdais stretched eight races with a three-month break in the middle owing to his own mistake qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, which left him with multiple pelvic fractures and a fracture to his right hip. His car was a rocket ship; but after two laps at 231 mph, Bourdais appeared to over-correct and destroyed the wall at Turn 2 in Indy in a massive 127G impact. It was a horrific looking accident, but one that also saw Bourdais rather lucky to have not been injured worse.

It set forth in motion an incredible recovery that saw Bourdais back testing the Monday after Mid-Ohio, just over two months since the accident, then in race action just over three months later at the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park oval, and because Bourdais is a regulation badass, he finished in the top-10 straight out of the box. He worked as hard as he did to return earlier than anticipated to avoid an offseason of questions asking if he’d come back and if he’d be strong enough to do so.

The recovery was a welcome story to end the year after the agony at Indy that stopped a potential title run or certainly top-five in points finish in its tracks. A classic Coyne strategy special vaulted Bourdais from last to first and a popular win in his U.S. hometown of St. Petersburg to kick off the year. A second place at Long Beach backed it up and eighth at Barber kept him atop the standings.

But Indy was shaping up to be an important bounce back weekend after Bourdais got taken out in Phoenix, then incurred an engine failure in the IMS road course race. And then, of course, his loud and violent accident qualifying for the ‘500 changed the course of the season.

After three “almost there” but largely unfulfilling years at KV Racing Technology, Bourdais embraced the family atmosphere back at Coyne along with longtime engineers Craig Hampson and Olivier Boisson, determined to continue punching above the team’s weight. He crafted a remarkable story all season and will be keen to fulfill it over the course of a proper full campaign in 2018.