By: Tanner Watkins
April 8, 2020 | 9:00 AM
After dropping a few hints earlier in the week, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally got the call he was waiting for from the NTT IndyCar Series. The two-time Daytona 500 champion will compete in this weekend’s third round of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, racing from Michigan International Speedway.
Earnhardt Jr., perhaps the most popular motorsports athlete in the modern era, has been a stout supporter of sim racing – dating back to the early 2000s with titles like NASCAR Racing 2003, and later, iRacing.
“Invite received,” Earnhardt posted on Twitter. “I better get to work figuring this car out.”
In 631 career starts at NASCAR’s Cup Series level, Earnhardt Jr. won a total of 26 races while adding 149 top-fives and 260 top-ten finishes. The third-generation driver has made starts in sports car events such as the Daytona 24, but has never strapped into an Indy-style car.
That is the beauty of sim racing, and a byproduct of this novel coronavirus titled COVID-19, which has brought our sporting landscape to a worldwide halt. What better time to have a little fun?
An additional note to add in Earnhardt Jr.’s announcement is that Saturday’s iRacing event will be shown live on NBCSN, following suit from last weekend when the race at Barber Motorsports Park tallied 162,000 viewers on the same channel.
Earnhardt Jr. is the second high-profile stock car driver to join INDYCAR’s iRacing circuit. Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has competed in each of the first two INDYCAR iRacing Challenge events, finishing 16th at Watkins Glen and 12th at Barber.
Fans can expect the race to be run at the 2:30 PM Eastern time slot it has maintained since the first event two weeks ago.
Header image by Chris Owens/INDYCAR.