Le Mans: A look at GRAND-AM, ALMS teams competing

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Here’s a look through some of the teams and drivers that might hold your attention from an American standpoint competing at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. There are six teams from the two sports car championships in the U.S., the American Le Mans Series and GRAND-AM Rolex Series, who have assembled efforts for this year’s race. They’re outlined below:

  • Corvette Racing: Corvette celebrates its 60th anniversary at this year’s Le Mans with the send-off of its GTE-spec C6.R in the GTE Pro class. The team’s two cars feature these driver lineups: Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen, Jordan Taylor (No. 73), Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Richard Westbrook (No. 74).
  • SRT Motorsports: Viper returns to Le Mans for the first time in a decade with two of its bruising 8.4L V10s under the SRT branding and badging. Drivers of the two SRT Vipers in GTE Pro include: Marc Goossens, Dominik Farnbacher, Ryan Dalziel (No. 53), Tommy Kendall, Jonathan Bomarito, Kuno Wittmer (No. 93).
  • Dempsey Del Piero Racing: Patrick Dempsey’s team has partnered with Proton Competition for its first trip to Le Mans, Dempsey’s second as a driver. The No. 77 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR features Dempsey, Joe Foster and Patrick Long behind the wheel.
  • 8 Star Motorsports: Enzo Potolicchio branched off onto his own team that runs the full FIA World Endurance Championship and a Daytona Prototype in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series. Potolicchio, Rui Aguas and Australian V8 Supercars ace Jason Bright wheel the bright orange GTE Am class No. 81 Ferrari F458 Italia, which has the logo of the merged United SportsCar Racing series on its doors.
  • Level 5 Motorsports: Scott Tucker’s team podiumed in its first Le Mans appearance in 2011, but a class win in the 24-hour race has thus far eluded them. Taking the reins of the team’s HPD ARX-03b in LMP2 are Tucker, Dario’s brother Marino Franchitti, and Le Mans rookie and IndyCar star, Ryan Briscoe (No. 33).
  • Rebellion Racing: A full-time entrant in the FIA World Endurance Championship, Rebellion has also committed to a part-time effort in the ALMS. Its two Lola B12/60 Toyotas in LMP1 are best of the privateers, but unlikely to score an overall podium. Driver lineups include: Nick Heidfeld, Neel Jani, Nico Prost (No. 12) and Andrea Belicchi, Congfu Cheng, and Mathias Beche (No. 13).

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.