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Ricciardo unsure of Red Bull updates, but is soaking up Austin thus far

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AUSTIN, Texas – Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo is still unsure what Red Bull will do for 2016, as a resolution is yet to be sorted regarding the team’s engine situation.

Still, the Australian fully expects he’ll be racing next year; it’s just a question of how competitive he will be.

“Not much has changed. I’m still not confirmed with anything. But I’m still confident I’ll be racing,” Ricciardo told assembled reporters during today’s FIA Press Conference.

“The question is, ‘Will we be here and be competitive?’ The concern is will we be competitive? We want to be competitive again.”

Ricciardo said the car hasn’t been too bad this year, just regularly down on single-lap pace in qualifying.

“It’s not a massive gap. But we’re still down a chunk,” he said.

“The car has been good. It’s just in qualifying we don’t have the one-lap pace. But if we’re not there on pace, maybe the rain will help.”

Ricciardo enters Austin fresh off his famous “Wolverine” look last year, and scored a podium here when he came third behind the Mercedes AMG Petronas teammates despite starting fifth.

He showed up today with similarly detailed “Wolverine” chops, coupled with a goatee, for the press conference (photo to come later). And he’s been busy soaking up the city – even getting a tattoo on Wednesday.

The shenanigans are present on Ricciardo’s should-be-award-winning Instagram page. Here’s the video of him getting his tattoo:

https://instagram.com/p/9Jdg5xONhW/?taken-by=danielricciardo

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race the No. 3 vs. IndyCar stars in Michigan iRacing

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The invite has been received, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has another iRacing event on his schedule.

The NASCAR on NBC analyst tweeted Wednesday that he will make his debut in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge with Saturday’s race at Michigan Speedway. The race will be shown live on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

The 2-mile oval was chosen by IndyCar drivers as the third track in the six-race series. Earnhardt heartily endorsed Michigan as a potential iRacing venue Monday along with Daytona and Talladega. Michigan nearly was selected by fans as the opener in the iRacing Challenge.

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Earnhardt, a longtime avid iRacing fan, had been lobbying since last Thursday that he was interested in racing with IndyCar drivers.

He has driven in the first three races of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational, finishing second to Denny Hamlin in the opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Last year, he attended his first Indianapolis 500, working as an analyst as part of NBC Sports’ inaugural broadcast of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

“I’d love to do it,” Earnhardt said Monday about joining the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “I think I’d love to get to know those guys.

“I had such a great time at the Indy 500 last year, and the reception that I received from other drivers there really meant a lot to me. So I know they’re all a lot of great dudes in that series that I already know that I’d love to get to know some of them even better.”

It already has been quite the week for Earnhardt, who was announced Monday as one of 15 nominees for the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The field for Saturday’s race at Michigan should include another  NASCAR driver in Jimmie Johnson. The seven-time Cup champion has driven the first two races of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge (and has plans to race IndyCar part time in the future).