When Danica Patrick revs up for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday — her final race before retirement — she’s going to have one big fan cheering her on: her boyfriend, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“Aaron is so supportive of her as she finishes this up,” a source close to Rodgers, 34, tells PEOPLE. “And he supports her with whatever her next steps are. They are in a very exciting place these days, and they’re really enjoying experiencing it all together.”
Patrick, 36, confirmed her relationship with Rodgers in January, but the couple first met at the ESPYs back in 2012 — when they were both involved with other people. (Patrick is also set to host the ESPYs for the first time in July.)
Rodgers, who helped lead the Packers to victory in the 2010 Super Bowl, ended his relationship with actress Olivia Munn in 2017 after three years together. Their breakup came after months of engagement speculation that started when Munn was spotted with a diamond ring on her left ring finger. Patrick was previously dating NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for five years before their split in 2017.
Patrick opened up about how her relationship with Rodgers began on Jenny McCarthy’s SiriusXM radio show on Tuesday.
“We kept in touch a little bit, and there were some years we didn’t talk to each other, and then some every now and again, but it wasn’t until obviously recently that we actually had phone numbers,” she said. “We referred to each other as Chicago and Green Bay — it was very cute.”
When they were both single, sparks flew.
“I think they’re much stronger because they knew each other first,” says the Rodgers source. “They were friendly. Then they were friends. And then it turned into something more. This relationship is built on a solid foundation.”
With Rodgers cheering on Patrick, she has decided to return the favor — and shockingly switch her NFL allegiances. (Sort of.)
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“I can’t wait to go to Lambeau,” Patrick told USA Today on Sunday. “I was a Bears fan (but) I’ve known Aaron for quite awhile and I’ve always told him I would cheer for him. As I’ve said before, I cheer for him, I just don’t want his team to win. Now, of course, I cheer for the whole team.”
(To understand the gravity of this, the Bears-Packers rivalry dates back to 1921. There’s even a Wikipedia page about it. So for Patrick to switch allegiances, she’s bucking 97 years of tradition.)
According to the Rodgers source, Patrick is also supportive as he navigates his complicated family situation — which includes an estrangement from younger brother Jordan, a Bachelorette alum, and father Ed.
“They really have a good bond,” says the insider. “And she’s there to talk to him about everything that is going on in his life. They’re really well suited for each other.”
Tune in to coverage of the Indianapolis 500 — and Patrick’s final ride — on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. E.T. on ABC.