A bitter feud has erupted between gorgeous female race car driver Danica Patrick and her NASCAR mentor, superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale, 35, is furious that Danica has been telling people she’ll be a better NASCAR driver than he is – and Danica is upset because she believes Dale is only using her to make money and doesn’t respect her driving ability.
"Dale is livid at Danica for talking trash about him behind his back," revealed a source. "He feels he’s giving her entrance into the NASCAR world and teaching her his tricks – and she’s saying how she can beat him.
"It’s rubbing Dale the wrong way. He hates being bad-mouthed by somebody he feels owes him gratitude."
Dale made the controversial decision in December to sign Indy racer Danica to his JR Motorsports racing team. Her strong showing at her first Daytona race on Feb. 6 led to the announcement of her NASCAR debut in the Nationwide Series at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 13 – a major step up in competition level.
The race had the two competing against one another on the same track for the first time.
While both crashed, Dale took 29th place, and Danica finished 35th overall.
"If Dale hadn’t finished ahead of Danica, he would have never heard the end of it – it’s turned into a bitter feud," said the source.
"He’s one of the most successful and famous names in racing, and she’s a greenhorn who’s seen by many as a novelty act. While Dale and Danica seem like great friends on the surface, there’s real competition behind the scenes."
Divulged another racing source: "Dale feels double-crossed by Danica. He groomed her for NASCAR, and now she’s saying she believes she’ll be a better driver.
"That may just be the talk of the good competitor, but Dale doesn’t like it."
Despite the growing tension between Dale and Danica, her NASCAR debut has gone exactly how Dale had hoped it would. He’s largely served as the face of the sport since his father, Dale Sr., was killed in a crash at the Daytona 500 in 2001.
"Bringing Danica on board can be his way of keeping the money rolling in," said the insider.
And that has enraged 27-year-old Danica, who wants to be viewed as a serious competitor, not as merely a pretty face who attracts sponsors but never sees a checkered flag.
"It’s been an old boy’s network for more than 50 years – but she wants to change that," added the insider.