MotorSportsTalk resumes with our driver-by-driver review of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series. Finishing P11 after coming back full-time this year is Australian Ryan Briscoe.
2014 SEASON PREVIEW
- Team: NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing
- 2013: 26th Place (7 Starts), Best Finish 12th, Best Start 9th, 0 Laps Led, 17.7 Avg. Start, 16.3 Avg. Finish
- 2014: 11th Place, Best Finish 4th, Best Start 4th, 1 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 12.8 Avg. Start, 10.6 Avg. Finish
Ryan Briscoe didn’t post huge results sheet for 2014, in his return to the Verizon IndyCar Series after a part-time campaign in 2013. But that’s not a bad thing. It was typical Briscoe: clean, very few mistakes and often experimenting on setups, so there wasn’t too much to be critical of.
Overall, Briscoe finished between fourth and 12th in all but four races this year, all while finishing all but 21 of the 2,395 laps. Pocono and Iowa stood out as his best two races, the former where he bagged a fourth and the latter where he was in the top-three most of the night before fading back after other drivers took tires.
Objectively speaking though, Briscoe didn’t show enough from an outright pace standpoint. He outqualified each of Target teammates Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan only three times all year; he only led 5 laps compared to Kanaan’s 407 and Dixon’s 97, and like Justin Wilson, he was a rare non-podium finisher in a year where 20 drivers made it to the top-three. Still, I got the sense this was a building year for this group, as driver and fourth Chip Ganassi Racing team came back after a year’s hiatus in 2013, and will have higher expectations and goals for 2015.
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).