Tony Stewart can be thankful this week for both the likely end to a creepy chapter in his life and the beginning of one far more pleasant.
The more engaging news first: Stewart proposed to his girlfriend, former Playboy Playmate Pennelope Jimenez, this week and took to Twitter on Thanksgiving to let the world know “She said YES!” and see the engagement ring.
Stewart had long joked that he would remain a bachelor, according to NASCAR.com. As recently as September, Stewart told Dan Patrick that he wasn’t getting married. “I’ve made it 46 years!” he told the host of “The Dan Patrick Show.”
But since then, his plans with Jimenez, Miss March 2003, obviously changed.
There are other places beyond Playboy magazine or its website where you might have seen Jimenez. She did some acting and modeling in the early 2000s.
Her acting credits on IMDB include small roles on the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful” and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s 2002 blockbuster “The Scorpion King.” She also played various roles on the hidden-camera show “Spy TV.”
According to CBS Sports, the couple began dating after Stewart retired from full-time Cup Series racing.
This Instagram post shows the couple together during an event for NASCAR’s 2016 Champion’s Week in Las Vegas.
Stewart’s NASCAR colleagues were quick to congratulate him. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s post on Twitter also reminded us that Stewart has taken up cycling.
Arrest made in stalking case
Stewart’s uplifting personal news followed some odd news. This week, Kathi Russell, 68, was arrested in Cape Coral, Florida, and charged with stalking and threatening Stewart for more than a year after he turned down a request to autograph some memorabilia, Indianapolis TV station FOX59 reported. Russell did say she would stop the harassment because “she didn’t want to get in trouble.”
According to court documents, Russell made dozens upon dozens of unsettling or threatening phone calls to Stewart, his mother and his sister. Some calls included the Talking Heads song “Psycho Killer” while others had a soundbite of Hillary Clinton in which she said “We came, we saw, he died.” That’s a reference to the death of Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi.
Investigators also believe Russell falsely called the DEA to claim Stewart’s plane was carrying drugs, leading to a search. And she called the media, his sponsors and other NASCAR drivers with anonymous “tips.”
With that behind him, Stewart can focus on his wedding plans.
Stewart is the only driver who’s won both NASCAR Cup Series (2002, 2005 and 2011) and IndyCar (1997) championships. He is a co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, whose Cup drivers include 2014 champ Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Aric Amirola, who replaced Danica Patrick at the end of the season in the No. 10 car.
Follow Mike Reader on Twitter.