The rise of eSports has been evident since the sports world has all but shut down. And the industry that has seen the most growth has been auto racing. Drivers have been all over iRacing and we now have virtual NASCAR, F1, World of Outlaws, and IndyCar on TV.

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge is in its third week and after races at Watkins Glen and Barber Motorsports Park, the drivers are heading to virtual Michigan International Speedway. In a twist, it was announced that Dale Earnhardt Jr. was invited and will race in the No. 3 with the IndyCar drivers on their first oval of their virtual season this Saturday on NBCSN.

Dale Jr. has been tearing it up on the eNASCAR front. After finishing runner-up at the first race, he avoided a very wild crash at Texas. Earnhardt enjoyed his time working the Indy 500 for NBC last year and expressed interest in competing at an oval eIndyCar race if the situation presented itself. eNASCAR has had an issue in recent weeks with drivers from different series wanting to take part and NASCAR not having enough spots to accommodate everybody. So while Earnhardt really wanted to compete, he didn’t want to take up a spot meant for a regular open wheel racer.

This will be a big test for Dale Jr. He told Mike Tirico on his new show Lunch Talk Live that he hasn’t done much iRacing on the IndyCar side but he’ll take the next few days to pick up what he can.

“I’m a fish out of water,” Earnhardt said. “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 INDYCAR, 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.”

Earnhardt will be the second NASCAR racer competing in eIndyCar. Jimmie Johnson has been racing the past couple weeks but he is also interested in racing the real thing next season so he’s using iRacing as a form of testing. If you want to bet on the results, check out online casino singapore. Dale Jr. seems like he’s in this strictly for iRacing reasons and probably isn’t going to be a stepping stone to the real thing.

Even though Dale Jr. was gracious to not step on anybody’s toes, I’m sure IndyCar and NBCSN would’ve done what they could to add a spot for him. Dale Jr. racing eIndyCar on the same network as his employer is a no-brainer for NBCSN to approve. In addition, IndyCar (and NBCSN) would appreciate Earnhardt’s presence to maybe bring over some NASCAR fans to watch IndyCar racing. This sounds like a win-win-win for all and as long as things don’t get too big, this should work for everybody.

[NBC Sports]

About Phillip Bupp

News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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