On Wednesday, downtown dwellers in Jacksonville, Florida were treated to the sight of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Chevy Camaro rumbling through the streets.
Earnhardt himself wasn’t driving the car, which was being filmed for a pre-game stadium video promo for Friday’s TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Tennessee Volunteers.
But NASCAR’s most popular driver will bring the 88 car onto the field just before the B1G-SEC battle. He’ll also be taking part in the coin toss.
TaxSlayer is a major sponsor for Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports stable in the XFINITY Series. The company is usually found on JRM’s No. 7 Chevy Camaro for driver Regan Smith, who will also be at Friday’s game.
“It is a good marriage,” JR Motorsports’ marketing director Kelly Lumsden said to the Florida Times-Union. “Dale and Regan picked winners for each week of the college football season for others to pick against, and the winner of that will be at the game…
“…It is a good awareness campaign putting their brand out and growing it. And the team will get a lot of lift off this game because [Earnhardt] will tweet from it and show that he’s there.”
The 88 car’s romp through Jacksonville should look pretty sweet on the video boards at EverBank Field (home of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars). The stadium’s 362-foot-wide boards are the largest LED high-definition screens in the world.
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).