Reports: Ryan Briscoe to replace James Hinchcliffe in Indy 500

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While Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has not made an official announcement yet, media reports out of Indianapolis have Ryan Briscoe replacing James Hinchcliffe in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

WISH-TV was among the first to report that Briscoe, the 2012 pole winner of the 500, will be named to fill in for Hinchcliffe.

Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star also tweeted “expect Briscoe to drive car” as Hinchcliffe’s replacement in a Thursday morning press conference.

If the reports are confirmed in Thursday’s press conference, the 33-year-old Australian native would make his 10th career start in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Hinchcliffe is continuing to recover from a horrific crash Monday while practicing for the 500. He suffered an injury to his pelvic area, as well as upper left thigh.

He had just completed a lap of 223.916 mph when his car slammed almost head-on into the Turn 3 wall.

Dr. Timothy Pohlman, who performed surgery on Hinchcliffe shortly after he arrived at IU Health Methodist Hospital, told IndyCar.com just how grave Hinchcliffe’s condition was.

“(Hinchcliffe is) stable and improving,” Pohlman said. “His condition was critical upon his arrival and I think the IndyCar system as a whole needs to be commended for how well they can take care of drivers in this situation.”

Briscoe has made five starts in the 500 for Team Penske, three for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing and one for Luczo-Dragon Racing.

His best finishes to date in the 500 were fifth-place showings in 2007 with Luczo-Dragon and 2012 for Team Penske.

Briscoe finished 10th in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings last season but has not competed in the series this season.

Briscoe’s tenure behind the wheel as Hinchcliffe’s replacement could be just for Sunday’s race. He’s slated to be the third driver for Corvette Racing in Corvette C7.R in the GTE-Pro class at the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Le Mans test day is May 31, while the race is June 13-14.

Including Indianapolis, there are 11 races remaining on the IndyCar schedule for this season.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race IndyCar stars in iRacing at Michigan

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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).