Austin Dillon goes from hot asphalt to cold steel on ice

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Even with Richard Childress as his grandfather, Austin Dillon knew he couldn’t just skate through his rookie season in Sprint Cup racing.

But Dillon is hoping skating of a different kind will help him in his quest to win races and eventually Sprint Cup championships, according to a story by Mike Brudenell of the Detroit Free Press.

Dillon worked out Thursday with 2014 Olympic ice dancing gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White at the G-M Arctic Edge Ice Arena in Canton, Mich.

Now, Dillon has a history of being a good athlete, but that’s primarily been in stick-and-ball sports.

But when it came to skating, Dillon took to it like a Zamboni: he started slow and then picked up speed, according to Brudenell.

“I’m pretty nervous — I’m going to need a helmet and a HANS device on,” Dillon said as he waited to meet Davis and White. “Are you kidding me? There are good people out there. I don’t have training wheels on. I’m going to get run over.”

Click here to see the video of Dillon’s foray of cold steel on ice.

Dillon, Davis and White got together to promote the Aug. 17 Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.

Davis and White, who both attend the University of Michigan in nearby Ann Arbor, will serve as grand marshals for the event and will also give the command to start engines at the two-mile, high-speed Brooklyn, Mich. racetrack.

“Charlie and I are from the Great Lakes area and are proud to represent Michigan all over the world, and the link for us acting as grand marshals for the Pure Michigan 400 race is great,” Davis said. “Speed is a huge part of what we do (on ice). But, obviously, we’ve never experienced anything like Austin goes through. We are super excited to be going to MIS.”

Added White, “We’re getting a chance to embrace other things after the Olympics. Michigan will be our first real race experience — what a start!”

By the end of the workout, Dillon was – no pun intended – out of gas, but also exhilarated, considering he had never skated on ice until earlier this year.

“That was a blast,” Dillon said. “I’m definitely going to do that again. I had the best teachers you could ever have.”

Given that he knows how to handle a baseball bat – he was on a team that went to the Little League World Series in his younger days – and now that he has skating down-pat, Dillon might want to pick up a hockey stick and start practicing with it.

You know, just in case this whole NASCAR thing doesn’t work out.

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Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”