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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

NBCSN will present ‘Race and Sports in America: Conversations’ Monday

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With motor racing reckoning with its own issues of diversity and equality, “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” will tackle the topics of social justice with several athletes. The show will air at 8 p.m. ET Monday, July 13 on NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic channel and on regional sports networks.

The roundtable discussions will be hosted by Damon Hack and feature Charles Barkley, Steph Curry, Jimmy Rollins and Ozzie Smith in one segment. The other segment will include Kyle Rudolph, Anthony Lynn, Troy Mullins and James Blake.

Race has been a major topic in motorsports this year.

NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at its race after lobbying by Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in the premier Cup Series. In Formula One, six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton has joined Black Lives Matter marches in London and also formed a panel on diversity. The lone Black driver in F1 also led 14 of 20 drivers taking a knee before the season opener in Austria.