Several NASCAR milestones will be hit at Loudon this weekend

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Chicagoland winner Matt Kenseth heads to the second round of the 2013 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup with a historic landmark he’s hitting. He’ll run a special silver paint scheme on his No. 20 Husky/Dollar General/Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing to celebrate his 500th Sprint Cup Series start.

Kenseth isn’t alone in hitting a milestone or anniversary at Loudon this Sunday. One-time teammate and mentor Mark Martin, who was instrumental in Kenseth’s early years in NASCAR from 1998 through 2000 at Roush Racing, will start his 875th Cup race on Sunday in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. He trails only Richard Petty (1,185), Ricky Rudd (906), Terry Labonte (885) and Dave Marcis (883) on the all-time list.

David Gilliland also makes his 250th career start this weekend. The driver of the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford hasn’t made many headlines over the course of his career, but is a former Daytona 500 polesitter and finished second to teammate David Ragan at Talladega earlier this year in a shock result. Gilliland’s team, meanwhile, was in the news for its role in potential position-swapping for payoff with Penske Racing at Richmond. Joey Logano said the pass on Gilliland was “not that big a deal.”

Meanwhile, defending Sylvania 300 champion Denny Hamlin returns to the site of his most recent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory one year later, having not visited victory lane since.

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.