Hornish takes pole for NNS at Chicagoland

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Sam Hornish Jr. claimed the pole position for this afternoon’s NASCAR Nationwide Series STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway after putting together a lap at 178.341 miles per hour in the No. 12 Penske Racing Ford.

Hornish, a two-time winner at Chicagoland in his previous life as an IZOD IndyCar Series driver, will look to take the NNS championship lead this afternoon over Regan Smith, who sits just five points ahead of him in the standings.

Joining him on the front row will be Elliott Sadler, who secured second place on the grid with a lap at 178.265 miles per hour. Row 2 will be made up of Austin Dillon (177.912) and Matt Crafton (177.667), followed by last week’s Sprint Cup winner at New Hampshire, Brian Vickers (177.591) and Travis Pastrana (177.620).

Hornish’s teammate, Joey Logano, the sole Sprint Cup driver in today’s NNS field at the 1.5-mile oval, will roll off seventh (177.497). As for JR Motorsports’ Smith, he’ll have to make up some ground after posting the 13th-quickest time (176.200).

Other notables from qualifying include Joey Coulter (driving the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota that has won seven times in NNS this season with Kyle Busch) in 15th, Illinois native Justin Allgaier in 16th and buzz-worthy rookie Kyle Larson in 22nd.

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.