Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. tangle in wreck at Chicago — but it’s all good

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JOLIET, Ill. – Oh, how we’d love to be a bug on the wall when Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. get home after Sunday’s MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Patrick was running 18th with 10 laps remaining in the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup when she made contact with Stenhouse’s car.

Patrick was turned into the outside retaining wall, suffering damage to the right front end of her car, while Stenhouse suffered left front damage to his race car.

To her credit, Patrick made it back to the pits and after brief repairs by her crew, got back on the racetrack, finishing19th and on the lead lap.

Patrick was very politically correct in her take on the wreck, even though she and Stenhouse have been dating now for nearly two years.

“I heard my spotter (Brandon Benesch) say that the 14 (Patrick’s teammate, Tony Stewart) was below me on track, and I didn’t know the 17 (Stenhouse) was there on the high side of the track,” Patrick said. “My spotter took the blame on that one.

“I just didn’t know Ricky was up there, and I obviously don’t want to hit his car or anyone else with 10 laps to go. I talked with Ricky afterward, and we’re fine. It’s just a tough deal. We finished 19th even with the damage, so it was a decent run.”

Okay, that’s the public version. But oh, how we’d love to hear what they say to each other when they’re away from the media spotlight.

It wasn’t the first time Patrick and Stenhouse, who finished 17th and didn’t release any statement on the incident after the race, have tangled on the racetrack over the last four seasons, first in the Nationwide Series and the last two seasons in Sprint Cup.

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Bill Elliott joins Tony Stewart/Ray Evernham SRX series for 2021

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott became the eighth driver to join the Superstar Racing Experience, the short-track series being started by Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart.

The two-time Daytona 500 winner and 1988 NASCAR Cup Series champion was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015 and was voted NASCAR’s most popular driver 16 times (his son, Chase, has received the honor the past two years). Elliott also closed his full-time Cup career driving for Evernham’s Dodge team from 2001-03, winning the 2002 Brickyard 400.

“I am excited to reunite with Ray Evernham and some of the great legends of our sport,” Elliott, who joins Stewart and Bobby Labonte as NASCAR Hall of Famers in the SRX, said in a release. “I look forward to racing at some of the most historic American racing destinations and putting on an awesome show for the fans. We have a special driver field and it will be fun competing with some of the greatest drivers of all time.”

The series, which is expecting to have a dozen drivers, also has Tony Stewart, Helio Castroneves, Bobby Labonte, Paul Tracy, Tony Kanaan, Willy T. Ribbs and Mark Webber in its lineup.

SRX was co-founded by NASCAR Hall of Famers Stewart and Evernham and was unveiled July 13.

Several drivers have expressed interest in the new circuit, which is modeled on the International Race of Champions (IROC) series that matched drivers from various auto racing disciplines in equally prepared cars for an annual four-race series for 30 years.

With the addition of Bill Elliott, Superstar Racing Experience has yet to reveal a schedule or tracks, but it’s expected that Stewart’s Eldora Speedway will be on the slate.