Daytona 500 outside pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr.’s day ends early with blown motor

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – If only his car could have held out a few more laps until the rain came.

Unfortunately, that was not the case as outside pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr. suffered an early exit in Sunday’s Daytona 500 due to a blown engine. Truex was the first driver to drop out of the race due to mechanical failure.

“Definitely a tough break for the team,” Truex said. “The car was super fast today. I went to bed last night thinking this was my best shot ever to win Daytona 500. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.”

It appears that a oil pump belt came off the engine.

“You get about a 2-second warning the (belt) comes off (the pump) and it blows up,” Truex said. “Just didn’t get enough warning. It’s definitely a shame and tough break for this team.”

Truex crashed his primary car during Thursday’s Budweiser Duel 150s and was forced to start Sunday’s Great American Race in a backup car.

“What a shame we had such a fast race car,” Truex said. “I was really happy with it. It was a lot better than the car Thursday.”

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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.