NASCAR AMERICA: Monday round-up (VIDEO)

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Even though Denny Hamlin was forced to miss a race earlier this season, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has managed to effectively make the Chase by virtue of his win yesterday at Talladega Superspeedway.

As Marty Snider and Jeff Burton explained in today’s episode of NASCAR AMERICA, it’s a nice accomplishment for Hamlin when you consider the things that he’s had to go through over the last few seasons, such as his near-miss for the 2010 Sprint Cup title and his back injury last year that sidelined him for several races.

Hamlin is now the latest addition to this year’s Chase Grid, which currently has Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick atop it with two wins apiece.

Kurt Busch is also part of that Grid thanks to his Martinsville win, but all race winners must also be within the Top 30 in championship points. And with four DNFs in the first 10 races, Busch is in the danger zone at 27th in the standings.

NASCAR AMERICA will be back tomorrow at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra for online/mobile devices. You can also check out more clips from the show on its archive page.

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.