NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr is set to take part in this weekend’s IndyCar iRacing Challenge event on the Michigan oval.
Earnhardt Jr – who was nominated to become part of the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Tuesday – had expressed an interest in the IndyCar event and took to Twitter to confirm he had been invited to take part.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) April 8, 2020
Earnhardt Jr has begun practicing for this week’s event, and will carry the number three that his late father Dale Earnhardt Sr is famous for in NASCAR. Jr mostly used the number 8 and 88 during his NASCAR career, but those numbers are both taken in IndyCar by Marcus Ericsson and Colton Herta respectively.
The 26-time Cup Series winner and double Daytona 500 champion has long been a fan of iRacing stretching back into the early 2000s, and has been competing in NASCAR’s Pro Invitational Series organised for some of its star names.
He will now join fellow NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson in competing in the third round of IndyCar’s series, set up to give drivers somewhere to race while it’s real-life calendar is suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The first round of the series at Watkins Glen was won by Sage Karam, while two-time Australian Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin – set to make his real-life IndyCar debut later this year – won the second round after a magnificent strategy call.
IndyCar is yet to announce the full entry list for its first oval event in the iRacing series this Saturday, but Marco Andretti has confirmed he will be another newcomer to the field, having got his simulator set-up ready. He’ll likely use Karam’s back-up rig.
IndyCar’s Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has been putting together his sim set-up after being “caught off guard” by “the whole iRacing push”, is also due to join the roster. His home rig is still a work in progress, so he will use one supplied by IMSA regular Jeff Segal.
Well it looks like I’ll be competing in my first @IndyCar @iRacing event this weekend! This should be interesting. Big thanks to my buddy @JeffSegal & @GPXLab in Miami for setting this up. Still don’t have a home setup yet, that’s currently in the works. pic.twitter.com/SMNpGqJyOn
— Ryan Hunter-Reay (@RyanHunterReay) April 8, 2020
Carlin has also confirmed that it will field two cars this weekend. Felipe Nasr had driven solo for the team in the first two rounds, but he’ll be joined by fellow ex-Formula 1 driver Max Chilton this weekend.
— Carlin (@CarlinRacing) April 8, 2020
Chilton wasn’t due to race on any oval events in the real-life IndyCar series this year, with Conor Daly subbing in for those events. But with real-world racing suspended, Chilton will take on an oval on his iRacing Challenge debut this weekend.
IndyCar’s regular stars like Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi and Scott Dixon are expected to return for this weekend’s event.
It will be a busy weekend for some drivers competing in multiple categories across the weekend. Colton Herta, Rossi, James Hinchcliffe and Conor Daly will also take part in a new iRacing rallycross event this Friday.