Slim pickings in NASCAR free agent pool

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We looked at the Formula One and IndyCar free agent pools earlier this week. Meanwhile, most of the NASCAR field is set for 2014 but there’s still a handful of seats remaining, and they’re likely to be filled by a number of mostly journeymen drivers.

  • Dave Blaney (30th in 2013): Cup veteran since 2000. Replaced by Michael Annett at Tommy Baldwin Racing. Not sure if he’d prefer to keep running midpack at best in Cup or run Nationwide and/or Trucks and keep focused on son Ryan’s emerging career.
  • Travis Kvapil (31st): Unfortunately was most noteworthy in 2013 for his legal issue that arose prior to Charlotte, and didn’t do anything with BK Racing that really merits a third season. Rumors are that young Nationwide driver Alex Bowman may test for the team soon.
  • J.J. Yeley (32nd): Like Blaney, doesn’t bring sponsorship to TBR and has sprint cars to race. Whether Baldwin keeps him in the No. 36 remains to be seen.
  • David Reutimann (33rd): Lowest in points of those who drove all 36 races. A veteran hand but can’t be thrilled running 30th every week in his first season with BKR.
  • David Stremme (36th): Bounced by Swan Racing for two youngsters, doubtful if another full-time ride will present itself.
  • Timmy Hill (38th): May take over the No. 32 full-time if Frank Stoddard prefers that to the round-robin of drivers. Only four top-30 finishes in 19 starts doesn’t say much, though.
  • Scott Speed (41st): His career odyssey took him from F1 to NASCAR to Global Rallycross. So whether Speed turns up in NASCAR again after his exit from Leavine Family Racing is yet another question.
  • Justin Allgaier (NR): Phoenix Racing, now Turner Scott Motorsports, has a crew chief for its No. 51 with Steve Addington and a second car for Bobby Labonte at selected races. All it needs to do now is pick a driver for the main car, and Allgaier should be the guy who gets it.
  • A.N. Other Veteran or Rookie: Any of your Ken Schraders, Terry Labontes, or Nationwide regulars who get picked out of the blue either for one race, selected races or a full season. There’s always at least one every year.

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.