Former NASCAR star and current NBC analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his Esports IndyCar debut in today’s third round of the NTT IndyCar Series iRacing Challenge from virtual Michigan International Speedway.
Earnhardt started 18th in the No. 3 Nationwide JR Motorsports Chevrolet and pitted early on Lap 3, which set up the career Chevrolet driver to employ a fuel-saving strategy in the Chevy 275 iRacing event. The strategy rewarded Dale Jr. with an impressive third-place finish close behind Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud and Scott McLaughlin.
With 15 laps left in the 85-lap virtual contest, Earnhardt was running 10th, but through the final laps he gained seven positions when competitors were forced to pit for a splash of fuel.
“We got a little damage in that big wreck at the start of the race. I had a really bad push in the car so I couldn’t really run with the lead pack, but it was fun,” said Earnhardt, a two-time NASCAR Cup Series winner at MIS.
Earnhardt said driving in a virtual race against the IndyCar series regulars “will be as close as I get to the real thing.”
“And that’s why I like it: I can do it from the comfort of my own home. I don’t know if (wife) Amy would want me to get back in a race car much less an IndyCar.
“I had fun racing all those guys. A lot of those guys were ticked off about how the strategy worked out for them. That wreck on the front straightaway at the start sort of took a bunch of guys down pit road and put a bunch of them in fuel-mileage mode. So, the fastest cars didn’t win.”