With Formula 1 off last weekend, Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo spent some time at the Texas Motor Speedway taking in his first ever Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event at the AAA Texas 500. And after getting his first taste of stock car racing, the obvious follow-up is if he would consider becoming a NASCAR driver full-time.
Ricciardo stopped short of saying he would make such a move, reaffirming his interest in Formula 1 in the process, but he did admit that he’d embrace a chance to do a test.
“If Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) messaged me and said ‘Hey, in the off-season, come and have a drive and just have a test,’ I’d love to test one just to see what it’s like. For sure, F1 is still for me for the foreseeable future,” he told NBCSN’s Will Buxton in this week’s edition of Paddock Pass (Ricciardo’s portion can be seen at the 8:25 mark, below).
Still, while making a career switch is not his intention right now, the NASCAR event left a big impression on the five-time Grand Prix winner.
“Very, very cool. I loved it. Long overdue, long overdue for sure. I’ve been a fan since when I was a kid, and finally got to one!” Ricciardo quipped about his first NASCAR experience.
He also appreciated how the NASCAR drivers embraced his presence and could tell he was genuinely interested in the sport as a fan.
“Everyone was just so friendly – all the drivers I met and they were all happy to have me there. I was loving being there, but they’re kind of stoked, I guess, that I was there interested in the sport as opposed to there because a sponsor dragged me along or something. Really cool.”
A personal highlight came when he did a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr., as Ricciardo is on the record as being a fan of “Junior” and his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr.
“I’ve been a big fan of the Earnhardts as well for pretty much my whole life. To do a (helmet) swap with Dale was – if I say it was cool, I’m completely underselling it! It was definitely one of the coolest things that’s ever happened to me,” he revealed.
Ricciardo will resume his usual duties with Red Bull Racing as this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, the second-to-last race of the 2017 Formula 1 season.