Hawksworth’s P12 leads rookie contingent in Barber

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Given his prodigious pace on the street circuits the first two Verizon IndyCar Series events of the season, Bryan Herta Autosport/BBM with Curb-Agajanian’s Jack Hawksworth came down to earth a bit this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.

While the pace wasn’t entirely there for the English rookie, a result was, for once. A 12th place finish marked his early career best after failures to finish in both St. Petersburg and Long Beach, despite top-10 qualifying positions in both.

Hawksworth equaled Justin Wilson in terms of gaining the most positions – 10 from his starting position – and brought the No. 98 Charter/Castrol Edge Honda home after avoiding the incidents that affected the race.

“The BHA guys had some good calls on pit lane and I think we salvaged something from what was a difficult weekend. To get twelfth after the weekend we had was a good result in the end, so a big thank you to the team for working hard all weekend and for their ability to keep believing,” he said post-race.

The other three rookies had less clean days. Carlos Huertas had a brief off in Turn 6 to cause the fourth full course caution but ended 16th.

Meanwhile accidents for Mikhail Aleshin and Carlos Munoz took them both out of the race. Aleshin’s shunt at Turn 14 on lap 66 brought out the final and race-ending full course caution.

All four will have their first crack at the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next race, Saturday May 10.

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.