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Ricciardo visits NASCAR Texas race; swaps helmets with Dale Jr.

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Mission accomplished for Daniel Ricciardo on Sunday at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

He met Dale Earnhardt Jr., and completed a helmet swap.

Ricciardo told NBCSN Formula 1 pit reporter and insider Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas last month he planned to see Earnhardt’s final race at Texas before he hangs up his helmet as a full-time driver at the end of the year. A lifelong fan of the Earnhardt family, Ricciardo said he wanted to see him in person.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well,” Ricciardo told NBCSN. “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.”

The Red Bull Racing driver will be back in action in F1 next week at Brazil, but with an off week between Mexico last week and Brazil now, he headed to Texas this weekend.

As it was, Ricciardo was a guest of Chase Elliott at Sunday’s Cup Series race and toured the grid and soaked in the atmosphere before the race. He was wearing a Dale Earnhardt No. 3 shirt, with “The Black Knight” signage.

Here’s the helmet swap, which Earnhardt said was Ricciardo’s idea. Earnhardt also said at his media availability on Friday he needs to get to a Formula 1 race.

“I’ve never been to a Formula 1 race. It’s something, you have to check that box,” he said Friday before expanding on that on Sunday, “I’m bound for an F1 race to see Daniel wheel it next year!”

Ricciardo posted several times to his Instagram story and also took a few photos with drivers and teams on pre-grid.

Instagram story posts via @DanielRicciardo

Tweets/Instagram posts

Female racer makes history with record finishes in dirt national midget events

Photo courtesy Toyota Racing
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Holly Shelton is riding high after setting a milestone for a female driver in a national midget series feature event on dirt this past weekend.

The Sacramento, California-area resident recorded the highest finish ever for a female dirt national midget series driver with a runner-up finish last Friday at the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League double-header weekend at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Missouri.

Shelton broke her own national record for top finish by a woman in a national dirt event – she finished third in a USAC race at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, last year.

One night after setting her new national record, Shelton and her Keith Kunz Motorsports Toyota roared back Saturday to finish third (started on the outside pole) in the second half of the weekend double-header, making her the first female dirt driver ever on the national midget circuit to earn back-to-back podium finishes.

“It’s cool making history as a female, but my number one thing is I just want to win,” said Shelton, who will be graduating from Cal-State Sacramento with a B.A. in Criminal Justice this fall. “Truthfully, on the track I don’t even remember that I’m a girl. I’m just racing all the guys with the same goal they have – to win.”

Only one other woman has finished second in either a USAC or POWRi midget feature – Sarah McCune at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in 1999 – but that was on pavement, not dirt.

The record-setting weekend was great consolation for Shelton, who missed three races earlier this season due to surgery and then sat out three other races last month after suffering a race-related concussion.

“It felt good,” she said of her back-to-back podium finishes. “It builds up my confidence. The car is fast and we keep getting better and we want to build on it.”

Shelton was one of four women that competed in midget competition this weekend. The others were 19-year-old Maria Cofer and 16-year-olds Holley Hollan and Presley Truedson.

“It’s awesome seeing all the little girls come up to me excited to see me at the track,” Shelton said. “Hopefully, it encourages them to pursue their dreams as well and, as the years go on, more girls will get into it.”

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