Brazilians in Brazil: “Bia” looks to emerge for DCR

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Ana Beatriz is the third of the Brazilians in the field at this weekend’s IndyCar race in Sao Paulo, after Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan. In what has been a stop-start career, “Bia” has more experience at Sao Paulo than any other track on the calendar except Indianapolis, as she has been in all three prior races on this street circuit.

Beatriz avoided trouble in the rain-drenched 2010 race, advancing from 22nd to 13th by the finish in her IndyCar debut. That run in an extra Dreyer & Reinbold car helped provide her the opportunity to race in the Indianapolis 500 later that year.

A year later, things got worse, with a forgettable 25th place qualifying effort and retiring due to gearbox failure.

Andretti Autosport fielded an extra car for her a year ago in partnership with Eric Bachelart’s Conquest squad, and after having only one day in testing in the new Dallara DW12, Beatriz qualified a respectable 19th and ended 20th.

Beatriz has had the toughest start to the season of any driver this year, with the second Dale Coyne Racing entry. The team’s setup has not yet been dialed in, although some minor strides were made at Long Beach.

Keeping the car in one piece ahead of the month of May at Indianapolis will be the best result for “Bia,” who some feel is a much better driver than her IndyCar career results would indicate.

Coyne expands to three cars for Indianapolis with Pippa Mann’s announcement earlier this week, marking the first time the team has done so since 1999 (Michel Jourdain Jr., Gualter Salles and Luiz Garcia Jr. at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach).

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.