Rebel Yell: Former cheerleader Danica Patrick becoming quite the good luck charm for Ole Miss football team

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Sometimes life indeed comes full circle.

Danica Patrick has done quite a bit in her 32 years of life, starting as a high school cheerleader back in Roscoe, Illinois.

From there, she moved on to IndyCar driver, GoDaddy.com icon and NASCAR Sprint Cup driver.

Now it appears Patrick is back to channeling her high school cheering roots – and in the process has become a bonafide good luck charm in the sports world, particularly for the Ole Miss Rebels football team.

For the second time this season, Patrick attended a Rebels game, standing on the Ole Miss sidelines with boyfriend and fellow NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. during Saturday’s big game against arch rival Mississippi State.

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze wasn’t leaving anything to chance. Not only did he invite Patrick and Stenhouse, a huge Ole Miss fan, back for an encore performance to cheer his team on, he even gave Stenhouse the honor to lead the Rebels onto the field at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Patrick even dressed up for the part, sporting Ole Miss face paint. End result No. 13 Ole Miss captured the Egg Bowl, upsetting the No. 10 visiting Bulldogs 31-17.

To add insult to injury for the losing Bulldogs, two Mississippi State buses were involved in a minor accident on the way back home after the game, when the trailing bus ran into the rear of the lead bus.

There were no injuries, although the driver of the second bus was shaken up, according to a report in USA Today.

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MSU bus. Thank goodness everyone was ok.

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Patrick and Stenhouse also attended Ole Miss’ season opener against Boise State in late August as Freeze’s guests. Same end result: Ole Miss romped to a 35-13 win.

Back in June at a charity golf tournament that they took part in, Freeze told the Oxford (Miss.) Citizen, “Ricky (Stenhouse) is an Ole Miss guy. We’re going to transform Danica into being an Ole Miss fan as well.”

The Rebels obviously have done that, indeed.

On April 30, 2013, Patrick attended a Chicago Blackhawks game and took part in a between-period “Shoot The Puck” goal shooting contest, nailing her first shot right into the net.

She ultimately missed her next three attempts, but still ultimately wound up being a good luck charm for the Hawks as they won their playoff series opener with the Minnesota Wild that night 2-1 in overtime en route to their second Stanley Cup championship in four seasons.

Danica Patrick, good luck charm. Who knew?

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Rinus VeeKay to drive for Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020

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Ed Carpenter Racing has signed 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay to drive the full 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, the team announced Wednesday.

VeeKay will drive the No. 21 Chevrolet previously occupied by Spencer Pigot.

“I’m so happy!” the 19-year-old driver from the Netherlands said in a press release. “It’s a dream come true and something we have worked extremely hard for over the last couple of years. To step up from USF2000 to the NTT IndyCar Series in three years is really special.”

In his maiden Indy Lights season this year, VeeKay collected six race victories and seven pole potions. VeeKay previously won the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 championship, and finished second in the 2017 USF2000 standings.

VeeKay’s success in the ladder series caught the attention of Carpenter, who gave VeeKay the opportunity to first test for the team at Portland International Raceway in August.

“I have been following Rinus’s path through the Road to Indy, especially the past two years,” Carpenter said. “It was clear to me that he deserves to be in an Indy car. After his first day in a car at Portland this past season, that feeling became even more apparent. His pace, feedback and demeanor inside the car was very impressive for such a young driver.”

As a driver, Carpenter will be VeeKay’s teammate during the five oval races in 2020, once again returning to the team’s No. 20 entry. An announcement on which driver will pilot the No. 20 on the road and street circuits will be made at a later time.

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