Daniel Ricciardo will land drive in Dale Earnhardt car with next Formula 1 podium

Ricciardo Earnhardt Formula 1
Lars Baron/Getty Images

When Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo scores his next podium finish, it will be worth a ride in one of auto racing’s most recognizable cars that once belonged to Dale Earnhardt as McLaren CEO Zak Brown has challenged his new driver with a unique incentive.

“Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s 1984 Wrangler Chevrolet Monte Carlo,” Brown tweeted on Wednesday. “Get us that podium and the drive is all yours, Daniel Ricciardo.”

Brown is a historic racing aficionado.

Ricciardo is a huge fan of Dale Earnhardt Sr., which is one of the reasons he has used the No. 3 on his Formula 1 car since joining Red Bull in 2014.

Last year, Ricciardo bet Renault owner Cyril Abiteboul that he would expect his boss to get a new tattoo if Ricciardo scored a podium. The Australian driver did so twice – at Nurburging on October 11 in the Eifel Grand Prix and two races later at Imola in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Ricciardo finished third in both races.

“I know (Brown has) got a pretty good car collection, so maybe we could just bet one of his cars or something,” Ricciardo said.

Brown and McLaren answered in the affirmative.

Winning the bet could set the driver on a new path.

Ricciardo has said he would consider a career in NASCAR once his Formula 1 days are behind him, so a ride in Earnhardt’s car may further fuel that passion.

And that podium finish could come quickly. Imola, the site of one of his two 2020 podiums, is next on the Formula 1 schedule on April 18.

Ricciardo is competing in his 11th Formula 1 season with his fifth team.

During his career, he has earned seven wins and 31 podiums. After scoring his first podium in 2014 – the year he switched to Earnhardt’s number in homage to the NASCAR star – he has failed to finish in the top three in only one season. In his first year with Renault, he scored a best finish of fourth at Monza in 2019.

Ricciardo opening salvo for 2021 in the Bahrain Grand Prix netted a seventh-place finish behind winner Lewis Hamilton. McLaren teammate Lando Norris finished fourth – one position off the podium.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.

On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.

Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)