“Racers and Pacers” mark month of May in Indy

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While the New York Knicks managed to stave off elimination last night against the Indiana Pacers in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, the latter team is still one win away from setting up a veritable “Racers and Pacers” party for the city of Indianapolis as we head for next weekend’s Indy 500.

Notice that it’s Racers and Pacers, not Racers vs. Pacers. It’s true that a tough economy has created more spirited competition for the fans’ hard-earned money, but both the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Pacers are wishing each other well and insist that it’s all good for their home city.

“As people promote the Pacers and the NBA, often times they are saying, hey it’s big time in May because it’s Indianapolis and the ‘500’ is there. I think it’s great for both of us that there’s plenty of room to share it,” said IMS spokesman Doug Boles to Indy television station WRTV earlier this week. “This is one of the best sports communities in the country and we love the idea that you’ve got basketball going while we’ve got racing going.”

Pacers spokesman Eddie White also told WRTV that many “500” figures have made their way out to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to attend the games. On that note, “500” legend Mario Andretti received a standing ovation from the crowd in Indianapolis when he was spotted at Game 4 of the Pacers-Knicks series on Tuesday.

“I was very proud to carry the Pacer banner because they were kicking butt and there’s nothing better than to go out there and the team you’re rooting for is winning,” the 1969 Indy winner told The Indianapolis Star yesterday.

The Pacers, now up 3-2 against the Knicks, will get another crack at advancing to the Eastern Conference finals tomorrow night in Indy. Be sure to keep up with that series by reading ProBasketballTalk here on NBCSports.com.

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.