What’s not part of the way Stenhouse grew up is being center stage with Patrick in public, but he’s trying to adapt.

“She’s obviously been on red carpets and things like that all the time,” he said. “[It] makes me a little uncomfortable because I’m not used to that stuff.”

Perhaps the most celebrated example of Stenhouse’s uneasiness came last December at NASCAR’s awards banquet in Las Vegas, where comedian Jay Mohr was the emcee.

Mohr looked at the table where Patrick and Stenhouse were seated and joked, “Danica, I hope you’re not too uncomfortable tonight, I know you’re not used to being this close to the front.” The audience gasped while the TV camera captured Stenhouse nearly stone-faced. Patrick wasn’t laughing, either.

Stenhouse said the moment was misinterpreted because he and Patrick were simply reluctant to laugh at the other’s expense.

“Obviously, I saw the video of it and it definitely didn’t look like we were enjoying it,” Stenhouse said. “We were fine with it. We both kind of got caught up in the middle of really not knowing what to do.”

But there’s no confusion about Stenhouse’s expectations of being a regular contender to win in the Cup series this year, and Patrick naturally is his biggest supporter.

Stenhouse “is confident and knows what he’s doing,” she said. “He knows how to drive.”


Twitter: @PeltzLATimes