DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Sprint Cup driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has never come face to face with the man who runs the "Fenway" part of Roush Fenway Racing.
But he has an idea of where he might be able to find John W. Henry.
"He was supposed to come to Daytona one year and then something happened," Stenhouse told the OBF Blog during NASCAR Media Day Thursday. "I'll guess I'll have to go to a soccer game to finally meet him."
Or he could swing by the Boston Globe's offices on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester. If he does, he'll have to keep it in first gear or risk a hefty speeding ticket.
Stenhouse was a Xander Bogaerts of sorts in Henry's NASCAR racing stable, making the move up to the Sprint Cup circuit in 2013 and leaving his mark as Rookie of the Year. Unlike Bogaerts, Stenhouse is 26 and bats and throws left-handed. He also missed NASCAR's postseason in 2013. He completed all 36 races in which he started and finished 19th in points. He will be driving the Nationwide No. 17 Ford Fusion for RFR throughout Speedweeks here and in the Daytona 500 on Feb. 23.
The high temperature at World's Most Famous Beach on Thursday was the same as it was the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia - 59 degrees. Stenhouse, however, continues to generate plenty of heat among racing fans by being the beau of fellow Sprint Cup sophomore Danica Patrick.
It's the type of buzz that the infamous "Monster" on Yawkey Way would love. The two have been a couple for more than a year and Stenhouse was quizzed Thursday about his plans for their second Valentine's Day together. "I've got it. I made the dinner reservations this year," he said. "The gift I got here wasn't expensive [It cost about $20.] The shipping cost more than the gift. [It was about $100.]"
Like any couple, Stenhouse and Patrick had plenty of disagreements. Of course, some of theirs came while they each driving more than 160 MPH. "I learned to apologize to her, whether it was my fault or not. As far as that crash in Charlotte, she's right."
Stenhouse and fellow RFR standout Carl Edwards could use a little love from karma on the track this season. Edwards, who mirrored the Red Sox gut-wrenching finish in 2011 by losing out on the Sprint Cup in the final race of the season, was fourth entering the Chase last year but ended up 13th thanks to a slide that started with a 35th place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September. Edwards will be driving the Sprint Cup No. 99 Ford Fusion in 2014.
Edwards and Stenhouse both said they were legitimately rooting for the Red Sox in the playoffs and World Series last year. And no, neither was contractually obliged to do so.
Pulling for the Red Sox in the World Series went against his all Edwards' childhood instincts since he grew up in Columbia, Mo., as a St. Louis Cardinals fan. "I was rooting for the Red Sox. It's hard to live in Missouri and say that, but it's the truth," Edwards said when asked about his baseball loyalties by the OBF Blog. "They've done so much for me and for my career that I'm a Red Sox fan. It's not a contractual obligation. They have been so good to me and there are people that will shake their head when they hear that, but that's the truth. I'm behind them."
Stenhouse, who grew up in Mississippi, had no conflicting concerns.
"[Rooting for the Red Sox] is not required. But it's highly recommended," Stenhouse said. "I enjoy going up there. Fenway Park is so cool with the history of it and just the history of Boston. It's fun to go up there and catch games. I'm gonna have to get to a few more this year. We didn't get to any last year. Every time we showed up in Boston they were always gone, so I'm looking forward to getting back and going to a few."
Back in 2011, Stenhouse brought his "Ricky vs. Trevor" battle to the Monster Seats at Fenway.
Edwards sported a Red Sox logo on his car back in 2007 and once threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park.
Both drivers said the "Fenway" part of their team's equation is centered around marketing and revenue generation, while the "Roush" portion handles the competition and racing end of things. That would be mainly RFR co-owner Jack Roush, president Steve Newmark and GM Robbie Reiser.
"John Henry has really impressed me," Edwards said. "He cares a lot about sport. He's a competitor and he loves auto racing. He developed the whole iRacing, online racing stuff and those are things people don't know about him. He cares about the sport from the bottom to the top. That whole group has been great to work with. They've helped us a lot with sponsorship stuff and the business side of things."
While Red Sox ponder the fate of potential free-agents such as pitcher Jon Lester, RFR must decide what to do with Edwards and Greg Biffle. Their contracts also expire at the end of the 2014 season. Biffle, who finished ninth in the Chase last season, said Thursday that he's close to finalizing a deal with RFR and sponsor 3M and expects to have an announcement "in the first quarter."
This year's chase has expended to 16 drivers and has new set of qualifying rules. Most drivers Thursday carried the NASCAR party line in support of the changes.
Will there be a Duck Boat parade in the works if Edwards or one of his teammates wins the Sprint Cup Cup?
"I've done a Duck Boat tour," Edwards said. "I don't know what would happen. Let's just say when we win the championship, there would probably be something in Boston and it will be pretty cool."
Edwards said has met Henry on several occasions, although he couldn't recall the last time they crossed paths. "He comes out to the races. He's a guy that with as much as he has going on, if I want to call up and talk to him or run something by him, he's involved."
Henry hasn't mentioned anything about driving a newspaper truck, has he? "I don't know about that," Edwards said. "I read where [Henry purchased The Parent Company of This Blog]. He's amazing. He's not scared to take risks and do things. That's pretty cool."
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