Hulkenberg seeks end of tailspin, Ricciardo seeks BBQ after clash in Austin

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AUSTIN, Texas – “An Australian and a German walk into a Texas barbecue joint, sort out their issues and enjoy some delicious red meat.”

OK this isn’t reality but if ever there was a time, place or reason for Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg to get together and discuss in person their contact that happened during today’s United States Grand Prix, perhaps the legendary Salt Lick or Rudy’s in Austin would serve as a perfect venue.

Ricciardo and Hulkenberg’s races – which were both promising – came to a halt on Lap 36 when Hulkenberg and Ricciardo collided battling over fifth place at Turn 12.

After starting third, Ricciardo actually led seven laps from Laps 15 to 21, having got around Lewis Hamilton at one point. Hulkenberg ran as high as sixth in the opening laps.

It appeared as though Hulkenberg’s front wing was flexing and vibrating, and the issue didn’t help as Hulkenberg slid into the Australian. Ricciardo continued but Hulkenberg was done on the spot.

A post-race investigation by the stewards confirmed the technical issue was the cause of the accident, not driver error by Hulkenberg as he dove to the inside.

To hear Ricciardo tell it though, prior to the FIA confirmation, he put the blame on Hulkenberg.

“Yeah I saw him make a lunge, so I was aware he’d be close to the apex,” the Infiniti Red Bull Racing driver told NBC’s Will Buxton.

“He was sort of in my blind spot, so I didn’t take the apex, so I left a bit of room. I sort of opened the wheel, we touched and we wnet off. It felt off… him sort of overcooking it. Unless I went all the way off track I could have avoided it.

“Trying to be fair, I think that was his fault.”

Sahara Force India’s Hulkenberg didn’t exactly admit blame, but he did say the plan to pass didn’t go as intended.

“I saw my chance in taking Daniel. I wanted to go past him quickly,” Hulkenberg told Buxton. “He was holding me up quite a bit. It was damp where I was braking. It wasn’t ideal and unfortunately the move didn’t work.”

In the same interview with Buxton, Ricciardo threw another Red Bull-affiliated driver, Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, somewhat under the bus.

“With Carlos, there was contact which I thought could have been avoided,” said Ricciardo, who finished 10th. “He squeezed me on braking. Once you brake you should stay straight. We talk about it in driver meetings. It’s a part where you can’t really do much. You’re more or less not in control of moving left or right because you lock a wheel.

“I believe some other drivers weren’t too pleased with him today as well. It’s happened a few times in the past. We’ll wise him up a bit.”

But to close this chapter and turn things back to the headline, Hulkenberg will look to score points in Mexico next week after a run of three DNFs in four races.

“Yeah for sure,” Hulkenberg replied when he was asked whether this was a negative spiral.

“To get results you have to finish races, and these three haven’t been the best run for me.”

Ricciardo, meanwhile, seeks some good ‘ol fashioned Texas BBQ sustinence.

“I have been dieting all week,” Ricciardo told Buxton.

“For whatever reason the car was quite heavy this week, I was aware. They said, ‘This is the race you gotta try at least to not put on weight.

“I was like, ‘You guys are kidding me. We’re in bloody Texas and you’re telling me I can’t eat meat?’

“I’ve had no red meat all week. Tonight I’m gonna eat until I feel pretty sad.”

Rinus VeeKay to drive for Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020

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Ed Carpenter Racing has signed 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay to drive the full 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, the team announced Wednesday.

VeeKay will drive the No. 21 Chevrolet previously occupied by Spencer Pigot.

“I’m so happy!” the 19-year-old driver from the Netherlands said in a press release. “It’s a dream come true and something we have worked extremely hard for over the last couple of years. To step up from USF2000 to the NTT IndyCar Series in three years is really special.”

In his maiden Indy Lights season this year, VeeKay collected six race victories and seven pole potions. VeeKay previously won the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 championship, and finished second in the 2017 USF2000 standings.

VeeKay’s success in the ladder series caught the attention of Carpenter, who gave VeeKay the opportunity to first test for the team at Portland International Raceway in August.

“I have been following Rinus’s path through the Road to Indy, especially the past two years,” Carpenter said. “It was clear to me that he deserves to be in an Indy car. After his first day in a car at Portland this past season, that feeling became even more apparent. His pace, feedback and demeanor inside the car was very impressive for such a young driver.”

As a driver, Carpenter will be VeeKay’s teammate during the five oval races in 2020, once again returning to the team’s No. 20 entry. An announcement on which driver will pilot the No. 20 on the road and street circuits will be made at a later time.

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