Daniel Ricciardo

Trackhouse Racing launches PROJECT91, invites drivers to NASCAR

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Trackhouse Racing is launching a program to bridge the gap between NASCAR and other forms of motorsports.

The two-car team will bring a third entry to at least one Cup race this season — the No. 91 Chevrolet — as part of “PROJECT 91, a program designed to expand its international reach by fielding a NASCAR Cup Series entry for renowned international racing drivers,” the team announced Tuesday.

In a press release, the second-year team notes its goal is to become a “destination for global superstars from other racing disciplines eager to compete in America’s most popular form of motorsports.”

“PROJECT91’s mission is to activate the intersection point of NASCAR racing and global motorsport culture,” said Justin Marks, team owner of Trackhouse. “I truly believe the NexGen car represents an opportunity for NASCAR to enter the global professional motorsport conversation. We now have a race vehicle with international technological relevance where world-class drivers from other disciplines can compete at NASCAR’s highest level without the steep learning curve that the previous generation cars required.

“Vehicle advancements used in other forms of motorsports, such as diffusers, independent rear suspension, the sequential gearbox, and other more common components, have resulted in a platform much less reliant on intimate proprietary stock car knowledge, which has historically made any transition to NASCAR difficult.”

The team will announce the program’s first driver and race in the coming days, according to the press release. Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez are Trackhouse Racing’s full-time drivers. Chastain has won two Cup races this season.

Formula One drivers Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher, who compete for Haas F1, recently joined Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe and Cole Custer to drive the previous generation Cup car around the Charlotte Roval.

Lewis Hamilton, a seven-time F1 world champion, previously expressed interest in competing in the Daytona 500. McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo also voiced interest in testing a NASCAR vehicle in recent weeks. The Australian driver pilots the No. 3 car because of his Dale Earnhardt fandom.

F1 star Daniel Ricciardo introduced to NASCAR world in Texas

(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Formula 1 star Daniel Ricciardo made his first visit to a NASCAR Cup Series race at Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 from Texas Motor Speedway, as the Australian driver for Red Bull Racing was a guest of Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott.

Ricciardo had told NBCSN F1 pit reporter and insider Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas last month in Austin he planned to make a return visit to Texas to see Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s final start at the track as a full-time Cup driver.

“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.”

Elliott welcomed Ricciardo around, and he took in the atmosphere pre-race. He met Joey Logano, among others, before having the chance to see Earnhardt and complete his idea of doing the helmet swap.

Both Earnhardt and Ricciardo signed each other’s helmets, and Earnhardt, who will join NBC Sports as an analyst for its NASCAR coverage in 2018, said he looks forward to attending a Formula 1 race next year.

Some of the other NASCAR posts Ricciardo appeared in on Sunday are below.

Ricciardo also posted a couple photos to his Instagram story on Sunday.

F1’s Daniel Ricciardo wants to race in NASCAR for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo says that he will “definitely” take up Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s open invite to race in the NASCAR Xfinity Series one day, but only when he has time to prepare properly.

During a Twitter Q&A last year, Earnhardt said that Red Bull driver Ricciardo would be welcome to race in a JR Motorsports car on a road course at any time.

Ricciardo responded by saying that he would look at his 2016 race calendar, which is already poised to be busier than ever thanks to a record-breaking 21 F1 races, starting in Australia on March 20.

Speaking to reporters in London last week, Ricciardo said that he would definitely enter an Xfinity race one day – ideally alongside Earnhardt – but that he would want to dedicate some time to preparing for it so he could be competitive.

“I would love to,” Ricciardo said when asked if he could do an Xfinity race in the near future.

“To be honest, I didn’t get to a point where I asked Christian [Horner, Red Bull team principal]. Because if I did it, I would want to do it properly. I would hate to go there and get my ass kicked basically. Then it looks bad on F1 as well. The cars would be so different, I would want to make sure that I tested and got comfortable.

“So I think in the calendar there were some races that I could do which didn’t clash, but the question was when could I do the testing. This is even before asking Red Bull, but just in my mind I was like, ‘When could I test? When could I get to America?'”

Ricciardo is an avowed fan of late seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, having run the stylized No. 3 on his go-kart that was made famous by “The Intimidator.”

Ricciardo, 26, said that he would most likely give NASCAR a go once he had checked off his targets in F1, where he has won three races and finished third in the drivers’ championship in 2014.

“I would love to do it one day, but now, not only is it a bit rushed, but I’ve definitely got targets here in Europe and in Formula 1 which I want to tick off first,” Ricciardo said.

“Sure, I’ve ticked off the winners’ column, but the world title is the real one. It will wait a little bit, but sure, one day, I think I will definitely take up his offer.

“Hopefully race alongside him, that would be cool.”