Ricciardo “would have cried” if he’d heard Earnhardt Jr’s comments

McLaren Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo admits he would have cried if he’d heard Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s response to the Australian driving his father's 1984 Chevrolet NASCAR at Austin.

Ricciardo “would have cried” if he’d heard Earnhardt Jr’s comments

McLaren boss Zak Brown, who owns the machine campaigned in period by legendary NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt Sr as part of his extensive car collection, vowed after Ricciardo's victory at the Italian Grand Prix to reward him with a test run.

Ricciardo, who is running an Earnhardt Sr tribute helmet at this weekend's US Grand Prix, has previously spoken of growing up supporting the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and revealed earlier this year how he was impacted by his death in the 2001 Daytona 500.

The Australian duly drove the blue-and-yellow Wrangler-backed car at the Circuit of The Americas on Saturday and explained that he had “so much fun” driving a car that was “so raw and foreign”.

“The noise, smashing gears, the driving position - everything’s quite unique,” he said.

“And it’s Dale’s car – one of my all-time heroes, so that was surreal. Good fun.

“And I think to do it here as well - if we had rented a private track somewhere in England, I don’t know, it wouldn’t have had the same effect. So I’m really grateful that Zak flew it out here.”

Following Ricciardo's demo run, retired NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrote on Twitter: “I’m happy for Daniel. I’m also appreciative for how he celebrates my father. That makes a lot of dad’s family members and fans smile.”

When informed of Earnhardt's response, Ricciardo said that he “immediately got goosebumps”.

“Honestly, if we’d been in a private setting and [Junior] told me that one-on-one, I think I’d probably have cried a little bit,” he said.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, 1984 Wrangler Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet NASCAR

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, 1984 Wrangler Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet NASCAR

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

“It was pretty crazy – like, happy-crazy – to be appreciated by that family in general. I’ve been such a fan.

“After Senior, I was a massive fan of Junior. I was watching every NASCAR race for years. I’d wake up and watch Junior try and win the 500 every February.

“It was pretty cool just to be recognised and appreciated for having support for his dad.”

Ricciardo admitted that he had been in a quandary when F1 drivers were first allowed to choose their car numbers, and he automatically went for the #3 that Earnhardt Sr. made legendary in NASCAR.

“I ran the #3 in his font on my helmet… and I remember speaking to Dale Jr.,” said Ricciardo.

“I was like, ‘Do I ask if I can do it?’ Even before I asked, he was like, ‘That’s so cool, we really appreciate you.’

“But I was also confident enough in my ‘fanboy’. I’d followed Dale for so many years as a kid, and then Dale Jr., so I was confident that if I got questioned about it I could speak truly and truthfully about it.

“And to bring that into F1 – it’s a bit like myself and Lando with Valentino Rossi. He’s got nothing to do with F1 but he’s a huge figure in motorsport and I appreciate that. It’s the same with Earnhardt.”

shares
comments

Related video

Wolff denies Cowell departure behind Mercedes F1 engine struggles
Previous article

Wolff denies Cowell departure behind Mercedes F1 engine struggles

Next article

Alpine changed Alonso's engine in Austin for performance gain

Alpine changed Alonso's engine in Austin for performance gain
Load comments
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren  Plus

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren 

From being lapped by his own team-mate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Plus

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing windtunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher Plus

The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles at a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay Plus

Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021’s title fight climax Plus

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021’s title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Qatar Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021
How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage Plus

How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage

There was simply no stopping Lewis Hamilton on Formula 1's first visit to Qatar. The Mercedes driver eased to pole position and led every lap to secure an utterly dominant victory - even without a key Mercedes weapon in his arsenal to increase the heat on Red Bull heading into the final two races of the gripping 2021 title race

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021
How Surtees became an unappreciated Ferrari great Plus

How Surtees became an unappreciated Ferrari great

John Surtees and Enzo Ferrari parted ways amicably but could have achieved more together. On the weekend that Formula 1 makes its bow in Qatar, a country best-known for staging bike racing, NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls the career of the formidable ‘Big John’ - the first man to achieve success at the highest level on two and four wheels

Formula 1
Nov 21, 2021