Daniel Ricciardo always has a smile on his face as it is, but his grin was even more noticeable Sunday.
The Formula One driver and honorary American fulfilled one of his dreams when he “finally made it” to a NASCAR race. Ricciardo was so excited that he showed up to Texas Motor Speedway sporting a vintage Dale Earnhardt Sr. “The Black Knight” T-shirt, as the late racer was one of the Aussie’s childhood heroes.
“The Honey Badger” attended Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 as a guest of Chase Elliott, but Ricciardo had a fanboy moment when he met one of Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates.
Ricciardo not only got to see his favorite driver’s son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., compete before his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series concludes, but he also hung out with Earnhardt ahead of the race. What’s more, Ricciardo — as he said he would during the weekend of the United States Grand Prix — convinced Earnhardt to do a helmet swap.
Earnhardt posted about the exchange on Instagram, claiming that he similarly has wanted to meet Ricciardo since he found out the Red Bull Racing fan was such a big fan of his father’s. He also said that he plans to return the favor in 2018, and attend an F1 race to see Ricciardo drive — though he won’t do so in an official capacity as an NBC Sports reporter.
Although many NASCAR followers lamented the fact that Australian commentator Leigh Diffey called the race at Watkins Glen International, it’s clear that Earnhardt is accepting of fans, regardless of the flags they fly.