From Comcast SportsNetDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Danica Patrick's personal life is no longer a secret -- she's dating a fellow driver.Patrick revealed to The Associated Press she and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are a couple, ending widespread speculation about the nature of their relationship."I have a boyfriend, his name is Richard," she said during an exclusive telephone interview with AP."I think I am just finally excited to tell someone about this," Patrick laughed, sounding almost giddy as she said the two-time Nationwide champion's middle name is Lynn and he prefers she use his first name.The couple waited until the end of Charlotte Motor Speedway's weeklong annual media tour to go public with their relationship, which started as a friendship as they raced each other the last two seasons in the Nationwide Series. Stenhouse became a mentor of sorts to the 30-year-old Patrick, who left IndyCar after the 2011 season to make the full-time switch to NASCAR."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 (with questions)," 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. So, it's Friday now, so that's why we waited until the end of the week to be up front about each other."Stenhouse confirmed the relationship."Yes we are dating," he said. "I don't normally say too much about my private life, always been focused on the track. I didn't want to confirm at media day so that we could keep the focus on the season, the Gen-6 (car), my sponsors and team. That's what it's all about for me."Patrick remains one of the most recognizable drivers in auto racing, even if wins have been hard to come by. There was speculation that her appeal with advertisers had waned, but sponsor Go Daddy said Patrick will again appear in the website domain provider's commercials during the Super Bowl next month.Patrick announced in November she and husband Paul Hospenthal were divorcing after seven years, and said in the Jan. 3 filing that her marriage to the 47-year-old Hospenthal was "irretrievably broken."Speculation immediately shifted toward her relationship with the 25-year-old Stenhouse, who has never been married. While her policy has always been not to talk about her personal life, Patrick said she made an exception this time to end the gossip and so the two could be open about their relationship."I think that moving forward into the year, it's a matter of do you say anything at all, or do you just carry on?" she said. "As opposed to speculation and people making up their own stories or talking amongst themselves or us feeling uncomfortable walking into each other's (motorhomes) moving forward, or around our teams or anything, it's just easier to be up front and get it out of the way then to have any kind of awkward speculation."Stenhouse was asked during the media tour's stop at Roush Fenway Racing if he was dating Patrick. He dodged the question, saying "we've got a great relationship" and then turned attention back to racing.The subject will be hard for the two to avoid as they compete against each other this season for rookie of the year honors in NASCAR's top Sprint Cup Series. Both are moving up from the second-tier Nationwide Series at the same time.Patrick said she won't race Stenhouse any differently."Obviously, we've been racing together for a couple years now, him and I have always gotten along, we've always had a lot of respect for each other on the track, there's never been an issue out there," she said. "I always say I'll race people how they race me until they do something to make me change my mind. I don't anticipate that changing at all, or us having any issues on the track."Stenhouse echoed that attitude."It won't affect how I race on the track. I want to go out and win, I race everyone hard," he said.Patrick rocketed to worldwide prominence when she challenged for the Indy 500 win as a rookie, becoming the first woman to lead laps while finishing fourth in 2005. She finished a career-best third in 2009. She began dabbling in NASCAR in 2010 in the Nationwide Series, and moved full-time last year leaving IndyCar and the 500 behind.Patrick has struggled in stock cars, notching just seven top-10s in 58 Nationwide races since 2010. Still, she was voted by fans the series' most popular driver last year.In the Sprint Cup Series, where she'll drive this season for Stewart-Haas Racing, team co-owner Tony Stewart handpicked 10 of the hardest tracks for Patrick last season to force her to learn on the fly in preparation for this year. Her average finish in the 10 races was 28th and her best finish was 17th in her season finale at Phoenix.Stenhouse has won eight races over the last two seasons to become the first driver since Martin Truex Jr. in 2004-05 to win consecutive Nationwide titles. He was promoted this year by Roush Fenway to the Cup Series to replace 2003 NASCAR champion Matt Kenseth.
Highlights from the Boston Celtics' 127-123 overtime loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”
Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?
Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.
- Highlights: Portland Trail Blazers 127, Boston Celtics 123 (OT)
- Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime
- Celtics force overtime, come up short in 127-123 loss to Blazers
But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.
For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.
The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.
But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.
And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.
Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.
“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”
Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.
“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”
Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.
He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.
After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.
But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.
Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.
But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.
Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.
Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.
“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”
Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.
“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”
And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.
“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."