When Danica Patrick burst onto the racing scene in 2005, she didn't just inspire young girls everywhere to get behind the wheel. She also gave guys a whole new reason to watch racing. (Let's just say she got their proverbial motors running.)
On Tuesday, all those lovesick fans crushing on the driver of the No. 7 car got an early Christmas present: Patrick announced via Facebook she and her husband Paul Hospenthal are "amicably" divorcing. Patrick and Hospenthal, a physical therapist 17 years her senior, have been married for seven years.
Patrick, who was voted the most popular driver in the Nationwide Series earlier this week, is sure to have countless suitors pursuing her when she hits the market. The question is, will she fall for another "Average Joe" like Hospenthal or get cozy with a fellow celeb?
If she does decide to dip her toe in the (genetically and financially superior) celebrity dating pool, it could be great for her career. A few dates with a hot Hollywood star and the two of them could end up in the tabloids, kissing over dinner at an L.A. sushi joint or taking out the garbage together in US Weekly's "Stars, They're Just Like Us!" section. (A career high point, am I right?)
Patrick's probably been too busy racing to scope out the singles, so here are a few guys I think might look great hauling trash bags in their PJs.
Pros: Not only would the two drivers have similar schedules, 32-year-old Kahne would know firsthand the demands of a professional racer and accept Patrick's occasional outbursts. Most drivers are adrenaline junkies, so the couple could spend their free time seeking thrills off the track, going on skydiving, bungee jumping and mountain climbing dates. Standing just 5-foot-9, Kahne would finally get to feel tall and imposing when hanging with the 5-2 Patrick.
Cons: Race car drivers aren't exactly known for their patience and good sportsmanship, so if Patrick and Kahne happened to bump in an important race, it could end poorly. Kahne's also been linked to a number of beautiful blondes in the past, so Patrick may not be his type. ('Course, there's always a chance he'll wise up and switch to brunettes. The smart ones always do &)
Pros: After spending the past seven-plus years with a man 17 years her senior, now's a good time for Patrick to have a fling with a younger man. The 28-year-old Olympian would be cool with all the time Patrick puts into training; he spends hours in the pool. Plus, Lochte doesn't take himself too seriously (he recently spoofed himself on "30 Rock") so he might get the oft-scowling Patrick to lighten up a bit.
Cons: The two might argue over who has made more money stripping down to a bathing suit.
Pros: Patrick recently admitted to a newfound appreciation for country music, one that stemmed from an appearance in a Miranda Lambert music video. Chesney is a sports-loving country star who would be just as comfortable at a racetrack as he is at an arena. Patrick could get some much-needed privacy from the press by skipping town to hang out on Chesney's yacht or chill at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Cons: Chesney's short-lived marriage to Renee Zellweger (later annulled) left many wondering whether Chesney is afraid of commitment.
Pros: Patrick's star would really rise if she dated the 50-year-old movie star. The diminutive, thrice-divorced father of three recently split with Amazon Katie Holmes, so he might be looking to take on someone his own size. Tabloid rags and entertainment shows are gaga for Cruise news, so a relationship with the "Mission Impossible" star would put Patrick on every magazine cover in town.
Cons: Cruise's Scientology beliefs have been rumored to interfere with relationships in the past, and Patrick doesn't seem like the type who would dig a controlling man.
Pros: A native of Roscoe, Ill., Patrick is a self-proclaimed die-hard Chicago Bears fan. Over the summer, she said she'd love to meet team captain Urlacher, who split from girlfriend Jenny McCarthy this past August. The 34-year-old father of three is a big kid who could keep Patrick laughing and teach her valuable intimidation tactics to use against rival drivers.
Cons: Urlacher previously dated Paris Hilton. Most women are wise not to go where Hilton has been.
Of course, Patrick could just meet a nice, normal guy who loves and respects her. Nah, that'd be too boring.