“Red Bull driver No. 1 wins another championship in 2013” is a headline that can be applied to not just four-time Formula One champ Sebastian Vettel, but also to Australian V8 Supercars legend Jamie Whincup. Whincup captured his fifth V8SC title Sunday in Sydney, for his third straight title at age 30.
Whincup won Saturday’s first race of the weekend in the Sydney NRMA Motoring & Services 500, and third on Sunday behind Shane van Gisbergen and Jason Bright was enough to secure him the championship by 128 points over Red Bull Racing Australia Holden teammate Craig Lowndes.
Bright and Whincup collided at one stage and that could have opened the door for Lowndes to steal the title at the final round of the season. Still, that would have been the only way. Lowndes needed to finish fifth or better and hope Whincup retired.
“I just can’t help but race,” Whincup admitted, via the official V8SC website. “These boys were banging the walls at every second corner, it was really good to watch. I was more of a fan than anything else.
“I was up the inside of Brighty and I was like ‘oh no’ he hasn’t seen me, so I went four wheels over the inside kerb to try and avoid it, obviously a little bit of risk factor but we are here to race.”
Refreshing to hear, considering the stakes that were on the line. Whincup was able to avoid more trouble over the weekend after securing his 14th pole position of the season, a record. Contact is frequent at the Sydney Olympic Park street circuit, and the walls particularly menacing.
Behind the Red Bull pair, the pair of Ford Performance Racing Falcons were third and fourth with Will Davison ahead of Bathurst 1000 winner Mark Winterbottom. Van Gisbergen’s win brought him to fifth in the final standings ahead of Fabian Coulthard, Bright, Garth Tander, David Reynolds and Scott McLaughlin.
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).