[WATCH] Daniel Ricciardo Hits the Track With Dale Earnhardt’s Car

Daniel Ricciardo

Getty Daniel Ricciardo drives Dale Earnhardt's No. 3 at COTA.

Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo just created excitement among a multitude of motorsport fans. Prior to qualifying at Circuit of the Americas on Saturday, October 23, he headed out onto the track in Dale Earnhardt’s No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet Monte Carlo and did some burnouts for those in attendance.

The McLaren Twitter account posted footage of Ricciardo’s lap around the Texas road course in the iconic NASCAR stock car. The crew pushed the No. 3 out onto pit road and then the Australian F1 driver took over. He navigated the turns and then stopped to do some burnouts before the entrance to pit road. The cameras showcased Ricciardo’s excitement by capturing the massive smile on his face throughout the lap.

“That was wicked,” Ricciardo told McLaren CEO Zak Brown, the owner of the 1984 No. 3 Monte Carlo. “It drove well. I was expecting it to be like… it handled well. Good grip. Good handling.” Ricciardo also explained that the impromptu donuts and burnouts were for the fans and not an accident.

“I’m happy for Daniel. I’m also appreciative for how he celebrates my father. That makes a lot of dads family members and fans smile,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted on Saturday, October 23, after seeing footage of the lap.

Ricciardo Has Produced in His First Season With McLaren

The lap in the No. 3 Monte Carlo pays off a bet that Ricciardo made with his new boss. According to The Score, he and McLaren announced a multi-year deal in May 2020. Ricciardo would finish out the season with Renault and then head over to McLaren to partner with Lando Norris as the replacement for Carlos Sainz Jr.

Ricciardo kicked off his first season with McLaren with a seventh-place finish Bahrain Grand Prix. He then added top-10s at Imola, Portimao, Catalunya, Baku, Paul Ricard, Spielberg, Silverstone, Spa Francorchamps, and Sochi. He also won his first race with the team at Monza on September 12.

Prior to the season, Brown made a wager with Ricciardo. He said that the Australian would get his hands on the No. 3 Monte Carlo if he could get McLaren back on the podium. Ricciardo achieved this goal by winning at Monza, and Brown delivered with the opportunity to drive the iconic race car.

Ricciardo Used the No. 3 To Unveil a Special Helmet

The F1 driver has fully embraced his trip to Texas while discussing his NASCAR fandom. He also used the No. 3 Chevrolet Monte Carlo to unveil a special Earnhardt tribute helmet that he will wear during the United States Grand Prix 2021.

Ricciardo posted a video that showed him sitting next to the No. 3 with a cowboy hat on his head and a covered helmet in his hands. He then provided a brief intro before unveiling the special tribute helmet and pointing out some important details.

“All right, we’ve sat next to Dale Earnhardt’s car, so it’s very fitting now to show you the Austin 2021 helmet,” Ricciardo said in the clip. He then removed the helmet cover and revealed the black and silver No. 3 helmet, complete with special font choices to match the late NASCAR driver’s helmet. The only major change is that Ricciardo listed his nickname of “The Honey Badger” instead of Earnhardt’s “The Intimidator.”

“I’m very proud and honored to wear something even remotely close to what Dale wore,” Ricciardo said. “I hope it’s appreciated worldwide by all of the Dale Earnhardt fans, so let’s do it for Dale.”

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