NASCAR notes: Kligerman’s new sponsor; Blaney’s team withdraws

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Two of the drivers involved in Wednesday’s massive seven-car pileup in NASCAR practice for the Daytona 500 are headed in different directions on Thursday.

  • Swan Racing’s Parker Kligerman, whose car bore the worst brunt of the accident after careening into the catch fencing and then flipped onto its roof, is now in the team’s lone backup car. It was originally designated for teammate Cole Whitt, involved in another accident earlier in the session, before NASCAR provided updated information that the Swan team would fix Whitt’s primary car and provide Kligerman the backup.
  • So, about that new car for Kligerman? It’s got a new sponsor, too. LendingTree comes on board to support the team’s efforts as Kligerman seeks to make his first Daytona 500 start.
  • Not as fortunate is Dave Blaney, who nearly won the 2012 Daytona 500 when the race was red-flagged after Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into a jet drier under caution. Blaney’s underfunded Randy Humphrey-led team did not have a backup car, and withdrew from the race on Thursday, per Sporting News’ Bob Pockrass. Blaney’s team will still get credited for a qualifying attempt.

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.