Kyle Larson fastest in final Sprint Showdown practice

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Kyle Larson was fastest of the 23 drivers in Friday’s final practice for the Sprint Showdown later that evening.

Only two drivers – the first and second place finishers – will transfer into Saturday’s Sprint All-Star Race, along with a third driver who will be chosen by a fan vote. The fan vote ends Friday at 7 pm ET.

Larson’s top speed was a blistering 194.105 mph, nearly 2 mph faster than second-fastest Aric Almirola (192.438 mph).

Third- through fifth-fastest were Clint Bowyer (193.431), Marcos Ambrose (192.041) and Paul Menard (191.388).

Sixth through 10th were AJ Allmendinger (191.164), Casey Mears (190.745), Danica Patrick (190.382), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (188.357) and Dave Blaney (188.193).

The two slowest drivers in the field were David Stremme (183.181) and Blake Koch (181.555).

Qualifying for Friday night’s race is at 4:10 pm ET, with the actual 20-lap race itself kicking off about three hours later at 7:15 pm ET.

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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.