GP2: Daly scores first points of 2014; wins for Pic and Vandoorne

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Conor Daly has scored his first points of the 2014 GP2 Series season in Hungary today after battling through to finish seventh in the sprint race.

The American driver has endured a luckless start to the year, failing to score any points so far for Venezuela GP Lazarus. During the feature race on Saturday, Daly came home in 15th position after falling foul of a safety car period.

For the sprint race, he started P13 after Raffaele Marciello and Stefano Coletti both received penalties for misdemeanors on Saturday, and fought his way into the points.

Daly came under pressure from Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and Tom Dillman towards the end of the race, but managed to keep his cool and stay ahead of secure his first points of the year in seventh place.

Just as the safety car period ruined Daly’s race on Saturday, it aided Arthur Pic en route to his first win in GP2. The Frenchman was elated to have won in Hungary, saying that it was “still a bit difficult to realise”. He was joined on the podium by Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and Takuya Izawa, who had started 22nd and 26th on the grid respectively. Coletti did finish second on track, but was stripped of the result after he was deemed to have forced a driver off the track during the race.

On Sunday, the spoils went to McLaren junior driver Stoffel Vandoorne. The Belgian youngster produced a controlled drive, leading from the start after jumping pole-sitter Nathanael Berthon off the line. He was chased home by championship contenders Jolyon Palmer and Felipe Nasr.

With this result, Palmer has extended his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship, and is in the box seat to secure the 10th GP2 title this year with just four rounds remaining.

For Daly, this result will hopefully mark the start of an upturn in fortunes. He is now the sole remaining American driver in GP2 after Alexander Rossi’s departure from Caterham and Campos, although he is hoping to return to the grid soon.

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.