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

McLaren ace Daniel Ricciardo admits he would have cried if he’d heard Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s response to him driving the ex-Earnhardt Sr. 1984 Chevrolet NASCAR at Circuit of The Americas.

Ricciardo “would have cried” if he’d heard Earnhardt’s comments
Listen to this article

Zak Brown, McLaren CEO, had vowed to let Ricciardo drive the car, which he owns, as reward for the Aussie ace winning the Italian Grand Prix, since Earnhardt Sr. was a hero to Ricciardo as he was growing up.

On Saturday at Circuit of The Americas in front of the Formula 1 fans, Ricciardo’s dream came true as he piloted the blue-and-yellow Wrangler-backed car around the 3.426-mile road course, and performed donuts for the crowd.

“It was sick, it was so much fun,” said Ricciardo. “It’s so different as well. I got my kicks out of it because it’s so raw and foreign. The noise, smashing gears, the driving position… Like everything’s quite unique.

“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.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was asked by AP’s Jenna Fryer for his thoughts, and responded 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.”

Following an interview on Sky Sports, commentator Will Buxton informed Ricciardo of Junior’s response. Asked later what that meant to him, Ricciardo replied: “When Will Buxton told me at the end of the interview, I immediately got goosebumps. Honestly, if we’d been in a private setting and he [Junior] told me that one-on-one, I think I’d probably have cried a little bit.

“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 recognized 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.”

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, 1984 Wrangler Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet NASCAR

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, 1984 Wrangler Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet NASCAR

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, 1984 Wrangler Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet NASCAR

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, 1984 Wrangler Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet NASCAR

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

shares
comments
Red Bull unsure of cause of Verstappen's cracked rear wing
Previous article

Red Bull unsure of cause of Verstappen's cracked rear wing

Next article

Formula 1 United States Grand Prix – How to watch, start time & more

Formula 1 United States Grand Prix – How to watch, start time & more
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Prime

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Prime

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon Prime

The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s teammate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy Prime

How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Prime

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Prime

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second-best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot.

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Prime

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022
2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2022 Formula 1 season came to a close at the Yas Marina Circuit, where the battle for second in the standings was decided, the wins in a season record extended and a retiring four-time world champion bowed out on a high. Here's how we rated the drivers

Formula 1
Nov 21, 2022