Preparing to go after his fourth consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series win at Watkins Glen International, Marcos Ambrose topped the second Nationwide practice this afternoon with a lap of 71.595 seconds.
Ambrose, the man that many believe can win in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race and earn a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, claimed Nationwide wins at the Glen in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
He’s making his first Nationwide start altogether since finishing seventh last year at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Behind Ambrose in Practice 2 was Brad Keselowski, who led Practice 1. Keselowski, who was last year’s Nationwide winner at the Glen, posted a lap of 71.986 seconds that was good for second on the time sheets.
Fellow Sprint Cup regulars Joey Logano (71.991) and Kyle Busch (72.132) were third and fifth respectively in the session, with Nationwide full-timer Brendan Gaughan going P4 between them (72.116).
During the session, rookie pilot Ryan Reed lost control of his No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford over the curbing at Turn 6 and slid hard into the tire barriers near Turn 7.
The impact sent him spinning multiple times before he came to a stop on the track. A caution was immediately thrown, and practice eventually resumed with about 15 minutes to go.
Reed’s team has rolled out the backup car for tomorrow’s Nationwide qualifying (9:40 a.m. ET) and race (2:15 p.m. ET).
Paul Menard, Dylan Kwasniewski, Chris Buescher, Regan Smith, and Matt Kenseth ended up in Positions 6-10. Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott was 13th.
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.