EMBROILED in divorce, gorgeous DANICA PATRICK already has her foot on the romance accelerator!

The queen of the race­track is dumping her husband while becoming close to a hot young hunk on the NASCAR circuit, say sources.

Danica, 30 – who recently announced on Facebook her plans to divorce physical therapist Paul Hospenthal – has long had a flirty relationship with 25-year-old rookie driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

“While there’s no proof of a physical relationship, bloggers on racing sites are buzzing about the sparks flying between Danica and Ricky,” a racing source told The ENQUIRER.

“More than a few people are pointing out she’s end­ing a seven-year marriage just as she’s gotten closer and closer to Ricky.

 “She’s also much closer in age to him than her hus­band, who is 17 years older than Danica.”

One website, celebritter. com, asked if Danica’s friendship with Ricky was “the reason for the split,” questioning whether an

 “affair” has taken place, and if he’s “the other man.”

Patrick began dating 47-year-old Hospenthal when she was just 20, after he treated her for an injury. The couple tied the knot in 2005.

“For most of their marriage, they were like two ships passing in the night,” said the racing source.

“They kept a home in Scottsdale, Ariz., but with Danica’s schedule, she spent very little time there.

“Danica has spent more time with Ricky the past couple of years than with her husband. When he won the Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year in 2010, she was one of the first to congratulate him and gave him a big hug. It’s no secret Danica is infatuated with him.”

The racing sensation has an $18 million fortune to protect during her divorce, “but she and her husband Paul are pretty civil to each other right now,” said a friend, “and Paul would like to keep it that way.”