Keselowski moves into Sprint Cup points lead

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Brad Keselowski is still thirsty for a victory, but the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion still was able to move into the top spot in the Cup standings with his third-place effort in today’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Keselowski was in contention for victory but on the final restart of the day at Lap 459, he was slow coming to the green, allowing Kasey Kahne to take the lead for good.

“I got ran over,” Keselowski said right after the race. “I’d have to take a look at the replay, but it was gonna be a helluva battle between me and Kasey there with four laps to go, but I didn’t get a chance. I’m not sure what happened, if [Denny Hamlin] got pushed from behind or if he just ran me over, but that’s racing.”

“We weren’t close at the start, but at the end the car was pretty good — not quite as good as Kasey’s, but still a great effort.”

He lost one more spot to Kyle Busch before the checkered flag flew, but thanks to Jimmie Johnson’s 22nd place finish, Keselowski will have a nine-point lead in the championship over Dale Earnhardt Jr. going to Auto Club Speedway next weekend. Johnson fell back two spots to third in the standings at 15 points behind.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.