Danica escapes Cupid's curse

  • NASCAR drivers Danica Patrick and her boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spend time together in the Nationwide garage on Feb. 21.
NASCAR drivers Danica Patrick and her boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spend… (Jeff Siner/MCT photo )
February 21, 2013|By Ryan Smith | For RedEye

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Danica Patrick's history-making win of the pole at the Daytona 500 is she did so while dealing with a new high-profile romance.

Before Sunday's qualifying race, most headlines about the 30-year-old Roscoe, Ill. native revolved around her relationship with new boyfriend, fellow NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. If Patrick takes the checkered flag at Daytona, she'll be on the short list of athletes who have succeeded while in a much-buzzed-about coupling. Here are others who weren't so lucky.

Kris Humphries

The late-blooming power forward's tumultuous marriage with reality star Kim Kardashian lasted about as long as the All-Star break, but it certainly didn't help the New Jersey Nets' (now Brooklyn Nets) fortunes. During the 2011-12 season, the team went 22-44 and finished last in the Atlantic Division. This year, the Kardashian-less Humphries' personal stats are down but his team is second in the standings.

Tony Romo

It used to be a running joke that Jessica Simpson was something of a bad-luck charm for the Dallas quarterback. Nearly every time a TV broadcast would show the singer in the stands wearing her pink Romo jersey, something would inevitably go wrong for America's team. The worst was a game in 2007 in which Romo turned the ball over five times in a 10-6 loss to Philadelphia, prompting announcer Joe Buck to observe: "It's never easy to play in front of your girlfriend."

Jay Cutler

The Bears QB's sometimes-rocky relationship with Kristin Cavallari seems to mean good things during the first half of the regular season over the past two years. But both times the Bears finished the season with bad juju and narrowly missed the playoffs. Perhaps it's time that Jay opt for a lesser known cast member of "The Hills." Whitney Port, anyone?

Matt Kemp

The L.A. Dodgers slugger struggled during the second half of the 2010 season while dating pop star Rihanna and ended up with a poor .248 batting average. The next year a newly single Kemp emerged as one of the best hitters in baseball. Perhaps Rihanna should have advised the outfielder to Just Shut Up And Drive The Ball To Right Field?

Tom Brady

It's not as if Tom Terrific has been a complete failure since he hooked up with supermodel Gisele at the end of 2006. Still, it's worth noting that all three of Brady's Super Bowl wins with New England have come pre-Gisele.

Ryan Smith is a RedEye special contributor.

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