12-year-old Karsyn Elledge is set to race with the number that her grandfather – the late NASCAR legend, Dale Earnhardt – made famous. The eighth-grader will drive a Nickelodeon-backed No. 3 Mini Outlaw sprint car at tracks across the West Coast this summer.
Car-wise, it may be the most unique setting that the No. 3 has had in some time, as it sits on a primarily pink machine that features multiple images of Spongebob Squarepants character Sandy Cheeks. But it should also be noted that her grandfather, who became a simultaneously beloved and feared sight in his black No. 3 Chevrolet, drove a pink car in the early stages of his own career as well.
The move to race on the West Coast comes after she became the driver to beat at her local short track in North Carolina, which led to her father, former Cup crew chief Jimmy Elledge, deciding to give Karsyn a different challenge.
”I figured out here, the competition level is so much higher,” Jimmy Elledge told the Associated Press. ”I figured if we could get her out here to compete in this class at the race tracks where [Nationwide Series drivers] Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet and a lot of those boys have competed, we can expose her to higher levels.”
Now Karsyn – who considers Danica Patrick as her favorite driver – is preparing to continue the No. 3’s considerable legacy in racing.
“I definitely am proud of the No. 3,” she told NASCAR.com. “I didn’t get to witness what went on with this number, but I’ve only heard how great it was and I’m excited to carry on.”
The invite has been received, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has another iRacing event on his schedule.
The NASCAR on NBC analyst tweeted Wednesday that he will make his debut in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge with Saturday’s race at Michigan Speedway. The race will be shown live on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday.
The 2-mile oval was chosen by IndyCar drivers as the third track in the six-race series. Earnhardt heartily endorsed Michigan as a potential iRacing venue Monday along with Daytona and Talladega. Michigan nearly was selected by fans as the opener in the iRacing Challenge.
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Earnhardt, a longtime avid iRacing fan, had been lobbying since last Thursday that he was interested in racing with IndyCar drivers.
He has driven in the first three races of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational, finishing second to Denny Hamlin in the opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Last year, he attended his first Indianapolis 500, working as an analyst as part of NBC Sports’ inaugural broadcast of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
“I’d love to do it,” Earnhardt said Monday about joining the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “I think I’d love to get to know those guys.
“I had such a great time at the Indy 500 last year, and the reception that I received from other drivers there really meant a lot to me. So I know they’re all a lot of great dudes in that series that I already know that I’d love to get to know some of them even better.”
It already has been quite the week for Earnhardt, who was announced Monday as one of 15 nominees for the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The field for Saturday’s race at Michigan should include another NASCAR driver in Jimmie Johnson. The seven-time Cup champion has driven the first two races of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge (and has plans to race IndyCar part time in the future).