IMSA: Hinchcliffe to drive Starworks Riley-Honda DP at Road America

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James Hinchcliffe will make a cameo appearance in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship this weekend at Road America, co-driving with Scott Mayer in the No. 78 Honda-powered Riley Daytona Prototype from Starworks Motorsport.

Hinchcliffe has raced at Road America in Formula Atlantic and has made one TUDOR Championship start this year, as part of SpeedSource Mazda’s P2 lineup at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’m really excited to be at Road America this weekend with Starworks and HPD. I don’t have a ton of time in the DP cars, but I know Road America well and I’m sure, with a team like Starworks, they will get me up to speed quick,” he said in a team release. “Already having a relationship with HPD makes this an even cooler proposition and should help make the transition easier. More than anything I’m just happy to be in a car on an off weekend!”

Mayer and Brendon Hartley won the GRAND-AM race overall last year. The 3.5L twin-turbocharged Honda itself has gone through a reworking and the Riley chassis has had some aero upgrades.

This is an interesting development to note because the appointment of Hinchcliffe to the Honda-powered DP – when other IndyCar drivers could be available – could be a sign the Canadian is set to continue with the manufacturer in 2015.

While IndyCar is off this weekend, Hinchcliffe and Jack Hawksworth will be in the TUDOR Championship field. Hawksworth makes his second consecutive start aboard RSR Racing’s No. 08 Oreca FLM09, which he co-drove to the Prototype Challenge win with Chris Cumming last race at Indianapolis.

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.