NASCAR AMERICA: Monday Round-Up (VIDEO)

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. appears to have finally become the championship contender that people expected him to be when he first joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2008.

Earnhardt’s victory yesterday at Pocono Raceway was his second of 2014, and in a shocking statistic, that equals his win count from 2007 – his final year with Dale Earnhardt Inc. – all the way to last year.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA, Earnhardt reacted to his big win in a Victory Lane interview with Nate Ryan:

With his two wins, Earnhardt’s assured of being in the Chase for the Sprint Cup this fall. But other drivers aren’t in that nice position he’s put himself in after 14 regular season races.

Frank Stoddard and Jeff Burton focused on those particular drivers that remain winless in a discussion of the current Chase Grid. They also talked about which of those drivers could make it to the postseason on points alone.

If you want to watch today’s episode of NASCAR AMERICA, an encore presentation will air at 12:30 a.m. ET tonight on NBCSN. For more clips, be sure to check out the show’s archive page on NBCSports.com.

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.