Daniel Riccardo will be aiming to return to the top-ten at next week's US Grand Prix, but ahead of his F1 weekend, the McLaren driver will saddle an iconic set of wheels once steered by his childhood idol.
McLaren boss Zak Brown has held up his end of the bargain, having promised Ricciardo a stint on-board Dale Earnhardt Sr's #3 Wrangler Chevrolet Monte Carlo NASCAR beast - which Brown owns - if he managed to snatch a podium this season.
Ricciardo surpassed his boss's expectations by winning the Italian Grand Prix at Monza last month, and thus gained the right to run some demo laps at the Circuit of the Americas on-board Earnhardt's historic machine.
You saw that right.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) October 15, 2021
The late Earnhardt, a seven-time Winston Cup champion and a Daytona 500 victor, has always held a special place in Ricciardo's heart.
The NASCAR legend, a rather unlikely idol for an F1 driver, even inspired the Aussie's choice to run with n°3 in F1 as it was also Earnhardt's trademark race number.
"He was a hero for sure, and it was really in 2014 when I took on the No. 3, and I also had it in the back of my mind to take on ‘The Intimidator’ and my version of that was ‘The Honey Badger'," Ricciardo explained earlier this year, referring to his first season with Red Bull Racing.
"I felt it was my year to make a bit of a statement, to be the guy that was, let’s say, not afraid to put on a big move, to race hard.
"I didn’t feel I’d quite had that yet, and that first year with Red Bull was the first chance to make that statement and to earn that reputation.
"For sure, part of that was on the back of Earnhardt and how he inspired me."
Unfortunately, Ricciardo never got a chance to see Earnhardt race, but manhandling the Intimidator's Chevy around COTA will be one heck of a consolation prize!