Franchitti forced to retire after Houston injuries (VIDEO)

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Dario Franchitti has announced that as a result of his injuries suffered at Houston in October, he will be forced to stop his racing career.

Franchitti will leave IndyCar racing after four championships and three Indianapolis 500 victories.

Here’s his statement in full, released on the Target Chip Ganassi Racing website:

“Since my racing accident in Houston, I have been in the expert care of some of the leading doctors and nurses, all of whom have made my health, my safety and my recovery their top priority.  I am eternally grateful for the medical care I have received over the last several weeks.  I’d also like to thank my family and friends for their unbelievable support.

One month removed from the crash and based upon the expert advice of the doctors who have treated and assessed my head and spinal injuries post accident, it is their best medical opinion that I must stop racing.  They have made it very clear that the risks involved in further racing are too great and could be detrimental to my long term well-being.  Based on this medical advice, I have no choice but to stop.

Racing has been my life for over 30 years and it’s really tough to think that the driving side is now over.  I was really looking forward to the 2014 season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, with a goal of winning a fourth Indianapolis 500 and a fifth IndyCar Series championship.

I’d like to thank all my fellow competitors, teammates, crew and sponsors for their incredible support over the course of this amazing ride.  I’d also like to thank Hogan Racing, Team KOOL Green and Andretti Green Racing for the opportunities to compete on the racetrack, and especially Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who have become like a family to me since I joined their team back in 2008.  I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all my fans around the world.  I can’t thank you enough for standing by my side for all these years.

I’ll forever look back on my time racing in CART and the IndyCar Series with fond memories and the relationships I’ve forged in the sport will last a lifetime.

Hopefully in time, I’ll be able to continue in some off-track capacity with the IndyCar Series.  I love open-wheel racing and I want to see it succeed.  I’ll be working with Chip to see how I can stay involved with the team, and with all the amazing friends I’ve made over the years at Target.

As my buddy Greg Moore would say, ‘See you up front.’”

UPDATE, 2:00 p.m. ET, Friday: NBCSN IndyCar pit reporter Marty Snider called into NBCSN’s “SportsDash” on Friday to discuss the injuries.

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.