Tagliani, St. Pete race helping veterans in need

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Barracuda Racing driver Alex Tagliani has donated his race helmet for this weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to military charity Wish For Our Heroes.

According to Jim Tomlin of the Tampa Bay Times, the helmet has been put on eBay for a one-week auction that will benefit military members in need throughout the Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg region.

“I have a hard time saying no,” Tagliani told the Times. “I can’t donate all my helmets. But when it makes sense and when it [hits] my heart, it’s something I can do.”

Leading up to this weekend’s event, Wish For Our Heroes and race organizers announced a “wish fund” to help veterans be able to attend the race through donations from individuals and businesses that would be used to purchase tickets for those who serve.

A veteran, former U.S. Army Specialist Charlie Lemon, will be the grand marshal for Sunday’s event and also give the command to start engines to the 25-car field. Lemon, 30, lost his legs while on a mission in Iraq two years ago.

Wish For Our Heroes, along with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indiana National Guard, has also set up a “wish fund” for sending troops to this year’s Indianapolis 500. If you’d like to help the cause, click here.

Ricciardo: Red Bull has ‘decent chance’ of Abu Dhabi F1 victory

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Daniel Ricciardo believes Red Bull stands a “decent chance” of signing off from the 2017 Formula 1 season with a victory in next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

After a slow start to the year, Red Bull made massive gains across the course of the season by developing its RB13 to end the season as front-runners, rivaling Mercedes and Ferrari for pace.

The Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi has a number of slow-speed sections that should suit the RB13 car, with Ricciardo optimistic about his chances of not only ending his podium drought at the track, but even winning the race.

“Yas Marina has actually been one of my favorite tracks over the years,” Ricciardo said in Red Bull’s pre-race preview.

“It’s been a bit like Suzuka for me though, a track that I’ve always enjoyed and gone well on but not quite reached the podium at. I broke that trend in Suzuka this year so hopefully I can do the same in Abu Dhabi.

“When you have so much time away from the car in the off season it helps to sign off with a strong result as it makes you feel like you really deserve a break.

“I think we should have a strong car in Abu Dhabi. I said I want another win before the season is out and I think we have a decent chance of achieving that.”

Red Bull has claimed three race wins through 2017, with Ricciardo’s victory in Azerbaijan being followed up by successes for teammate Max Verstappen in Malaysia and Mexico.