Command given to start engines for Nationwide at Daytona (UPDATED)

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UPDATE (8:54 p.m. ET): After a bit of a wait, the command has been given to start engines and the Subway Firecracker 250 is upon us at Daytona. We’ll have post-race coverage later tonight on MotorSportsTalk, but for now, enjoy the show on this Independence Day.

UPDATE (8:37 p.m. ET): Pre-race ceremonies are now complete at Daytona, but the start of the race is still on hold. Some jet dryers are still patrolling parts of the 2.5-mile Daytona oval to get rid of remaining moisture.

UPDATE (8:10 p.m. ET): Driver intros for tonight’s Subway Firecracker 250 are now underway at Daytona International Speedway and cars are being rolled out to the grid.

NASCAR has still not announced a start time for the race, however. But the setting sun has come out and that’s always a good sign.

When NASCAR does decide on a start time, we’ll let you know.

Tonight’s Subway Firecracker 250 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series was scheduled to start shortly after 7:30 p.m. ET, but rain showers during Sprint Cup qualifying has delayed proceedings.

However, word from Daytona is that the rain has stopped for now, enabling the Air Titan units to make proper progress on drying out the 2.5-mile oval. NASCAR has not yet revealed a new start time.

Rain has played a major role in today’s action at the World Center of Racing. A sudden cloudburst along the backstretch led to a nine-car crash during the first round of Nationwide qualifying (see the clip below), and an additional shower eventually caused NASCAR to set tonight’s grid on first-round lap times.

The Sprint Cup contingent actually got all of their first round in the books, but rain again showed up and forced NASCAR to cancel the final two qualifying rounds. Like Nationwide, the grid for Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 was set on first-round times; David Gilliland wound up earning the pole.

As we receive more updates on the weather situation at Daytona, we’ll pass them along to you right here.

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.