5-Hour Energy will stay with Bowyer, MWR for 2014

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NAPA, no. 5-Hour Energy, yes.

A statement released Friday morning from the latter company indicated it would continue with Michael Waltrip Racing and Clint Bowyer for 2014, and moved up its decision from the end of the year to now in the wake of the controversy at Richmond.

Bowyer’s late spin at Richmond set off a firestorm over the next week about team orders, race-fixing and “not racing to 100 percent of your ability.” Waltrip’s team was fined $300,000 and the 50-point penalties issued to each driver directly knocked Bowyer’s teammate, Martin Truex Jr., out of the 2013 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The statement reads in full:

This week the 5-hour ENERGY®team met after the New Hampshire race to discuss our future with Michael Waltrip Racing. While our original plan was to announce the status of our sponsorship at the end of the year, this timeframe left many concerned about their future.  There are scores of passionate fans, numerous charitable organizations, and hundreds of hard-working MWR employees and their families who are directly impacted by 5-hour ENERGY’s NASCAR sponsorship.  After several internal discussions and meetings with MWR, we are prepared to announce our decision ahead of schedule. 5-hour ENERGY® will be back as a sponsor of MWR and Clint Bowyer for 2014.   We look forward to another great year of competitive racing.  Go 15!

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.