Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

Danica Patrick speeding toward NASCAR's exit ramp

Danica Patrick was annoyed with herself. She had trained most of her life for moments like these, but she couldn't fix the inadvertent mess she had just made.

On the first leg of the "Danica Double," Patrick was in a scrum of reporters — the last place she wanted to be — in the middle of a long day of media obligations for the Daytona 500. New boyfriend Aaron Rodgers was on his way to the track, the NFL quarterback's first visit to her motorhome, and her cramped schedule was spoiling Valentine's Day.

So when asked an innocuous question about preparing for the final laps of her career, at the Indianapolis 500 in May, Patrick casually replied.