Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are officially a couple.
Patrick acknowledged Friday that the two NASCAR drivers are dating. They forged a relationship the past two years while competing on the circuit as newcomers.
NASCAR spokesman David Higdon confirmed to USA Today on Friday what Patrick had told the Associated Press earlier and said there's no problem with two drivers being romantically involved off the track.
"This relationship in no way violates any rules or regulations of the sport, so we have zero concerns, particularly since we're talking about two fiercely competitive individuals who both want to win NASCAR races and be the best at what they do," Higdon told USA Today.
Patrick announced in November that she had filed for divorce from her husband of seven years, Paul Hospenthal.
In an interview with AP, Patrick said, "I have a boyfriend, his name is Richard. I think I am just finally excited to tell someone about this."
Patrick said she waited until the end of Charlotte Motor Speedway's media tour this week to talk about her new boyfriend because she wanted to avoid being a distraction.
Stenhouse, 25, is a two-time Nationwide Series champion who will drive for Roush Fenway Racing this year in the Sprint Cup series. The two have raced against each other in the Nationwide Series the past two years, and Patrick credits Stenhouse for helping her make the adjustment from stock cars after moving over from IndyCar in 2011.
"We are dating, and I know there's been a bit of a runaround this week at the media days and poor Ricky got grilled," she said. "It was out of respect to NASCAR, to all the manufacturers, the new cars, the teams, the sponsors, just to allow the news of the day to be about racing and not let anything interfere with that."
Stenhouse also confirmed that he's dating Patrick, 30.
"I don't normally say too much about my private life, always been focused on the track," he said.
As news of the new pairing spread Friday morning, Patrick responded on Twitter: "Thanks everyone for all of your nice messages, and the bump drafting jokes are cracking me up! Let the fun begin."
Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway, told USA Today that he doesn't see a problem on the track.
"Again, without going into anyone's personal life, I think anyone that knows any of our drivers personally knows that each has a racer's mentality, that they would wreck their own mother, sibling or significant other, to win a race," Newmark said. "Our success as a multi-car organization stems from the fact that each of our drivers wants every spot on the racetrack, and one thing that we've seen is that they are always willing to do what it takes to get it."