Dale Earnhardt Jr. revealed via Twitter on Wednesday that he has received an invitation to make his virtual IndyCar debut in this weekend’s IndyCar iRacing Challenge round at Michigan International Speedway.
The NASCAR star turned NBC racing analyst analyst would follow in the virtual wheel tracks of fellow NASCAR veteran Jimmie Johnson, who took part in the previous two rounds at the virtual road courses of Watkins Glen International and Barber Motorsports Park. Unlike Johnson, however, Earnhardt is an experienced iRacing competitor, who nearly won the opening round of NASCAR’s Pro Invitational iRacing series at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.
His chances of success also figure to be boosted by the fact that this Saturday’s round of the 6-race virtual IndyCar series will be the first to run on an oval, after MIS was selected by IndyCar drivers as the Drivers’ Choice track.
“I’m a fish out of water,” Earnhardt told NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico earlier today when asked about his virtual IndyCar chance. “I’ve been a big fan and part of the customer base with iRacing and their service for a long time, but I’ve have had hardly any time in that particular car on the service. There’s 80 tracks, dozens of cars and I really haven’t spent too much time in the Indy car, but I’ve got a few days to get acclimated with it and understand how to drive it, what its characteristics are. I just want to go out there and enjoy it and have fun and run all the laps.”
“(The IndyCar drivers) are such great guys, really accommodating and nice to be around. A couple of them are already texting me — Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal are giving me a hard time. Hopefully, we can have fun and bring some awareness to the series and what they’re doing on the simulation front. Everybody tune in at 2:30 ET on NBCSN on Saturday — we’ll be out there in the No. 3.”