Looking for a “wild card” tonight at Bristol? Try Marcos Ambrose

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When Marcos Ambrose narrowly lost out to A.J. Allmendinger earlier this month at Watkins Glen, it appeared that he had also lost out on his best opportunity to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

But the Australian, 44 points behind 16th on the Chase Grid, may be in line for a second chance tonight at Bristol Motor Speedway.

He’ll be starting 10th tonight in the Irwin Tools Night Race, and while Ambrose has never won on NASCAR’s most infamous half-mile, Bristol is still the road racing ace’s best oval track.

He’s claimed more Top-5 finishes there than at any other Cup track outside of the Glen, where he’s won twice in his Cup career.

In 11 Bristol starts, he’s picked up three Top-5s, the most recent of which came in March with a fifth-place finish. His six Top-10s there also equal the amount of Top-10s he’s gotten at both the Glen and Sonoma, the only two road courses on the Cup calendar.

“It’s a track and race that really proves how much mettle you have as a driver,” Ambrose said of Bristol going into this weekend. “That’s played into my hands. I can really muscle the car and race with it. I just enjoy this track, the challenge and am looking forward to Saturday night.

“I feel we have a good chance. This team gave me a good car in March, and we had good strategy. We know what we need to do. Our cars have been good here. We have had decent finishes, a few Top-Five results and now just looking to get that win. If you are in it in the final 100 laps, you have a chance to win.”

Additionally, he and Richard Petty Motorsports teammate Aric Almirola – who clinched his spot in the Chase by winning a rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 in July at Daytona – have both shown strength on short tracks overall this year.

Almirola finished third in the spring at Bristol, and then later this past March at Martinsville, Ambrose earned another fifth while Almirola came home eighth.

It may take a little luck over the course of 500 laps, but Ambrose can certainly provide one more Chase surprise with three races left in the regular season. Keep an eye on him this evening.

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.