Upon arrival at the Circuit of the Americas last Thursday, Daniel Ricciardo was an instant hit amongst the deep south faithful (for reasons beyond the pearly whites), with his chosen driver number of #3 also baring the car of Nascar’s most famous son, Dale Earndhardt.
Come the end of Sunday, Ricci’s Stateside stock had risen even further, with yet another best of the rest performance seeing him finish second only to the dominant Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
So, how’d he do it this time?
With Williams and Mercedes stronger on one-lap pace all weekend, Ricciardo was resigned to fifth on the grid behind the Three-Pointed Star, just shy of Felipe Massa in fourth and Valtteri Bottas in third.
The race start on Sunday didn’t improve matters for the Aussie either; being “too keen on the throttle” dropped him as low as seventh on the first lap, before some do-or-die overtaking moved him back into fifth, including an expertly judged lunge on Fernando Alonso on the restart into Turn One after an early safety car.
From there on out, Red Bull and Daniel perfected a two-stop strategy to overhaul both Massa and Bottas in the pitlane, with the distinct possibility of challenging for Rosberg’s second place in the Lone Star state of Texas.
Massa closed towards the end, but yet again Ricciardo’s tenacity and inch-perfect drive (besides that sloppy start) yielded another podium finish, his eighth of the season. The biggest tragedy though? The result means good ol’ boy Danny is now out the title race, but that makes him no less of a star in our eyes after yet another barnstorming performance.
Well done Daniel, you’re our Top Dog for America!