IndyCar: Briscoe goes airborne in frightening crash, but emerges unscathed

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In one of the most frightening wrecks of the season, Ryan Briscoe went airborne and flipped end-over-end on the final lap of Saturday’s MAV TV 500 IndyCar race – and then simply walked away, thankfully uninjured.

As the white flag lap began at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Juan Pablo Montoya’s car came up on Ryan Hunter-Reay, who explained what happened from there.

WATCH: Full replay of Saturday’s race

“I wasn’t expecting Montoya to come up,” Hunter-Reay told NBCSN. “I was just sitting next to, not sure, and waiting to get into Turn 1 and Montoya came right up and clipped the front of the car.”

Hunter-Reay got on the brakes, but the impact sent his car hooking to the left and right into Briscoe’s right front.

Briscoe went end-over-end, flipped upside down and hit hard into the ACS infield turf.

“It’s tough, it was pack racing,” Hunter-Reay said. “It was crazy. I was getting pushed down and up comes Montoya. I’m just glad Briscoe is OK. That was a nasty flip he took there. It could have gone a lot worse.”

Beccy Gordon, Hunter-Reay’s wife, was quite upset about both the closing laps, as well as the last-lap incident.

It spoiled what potentially might have been a top-five finish for Hunter-Reay and Briscoe, as well.

“One lap to go,” he quipped. “Figures we couldn’t make it to the finish. It was looking like a good finish. We turned some things around and we’ll look to do that again in Milwaukee.”

Briscoe took the incident in stride.

”First thing I did was to call my wife and tell her I’m ok,” Briscoe said with a smile. “She’s more distraught than any of us.”

Indeed, his spouse, sportscaster Nicole Briscoe, was.

“No one made that happen intentionally,” Ryan Briscoe added. “The racing was so close all day. Unfortunately, something bad did happen, but we’re all okay, which is a testament to the safety of the cars.”

In a sense, being deprived of a good finish actually wound up probably hurting Briscoe more than the actual impact itself.

“We wish it didn’t (happen),” he said. “It’s not the way we wanted to go out. It would have been really nice to bring a strong result home.”

Briscoe then took time out to wish fellow driver James Hinchcliffe well and tried to leave Fontana with an optimistic outlook.

“We want to keep wishing Hinch a quick recovery,” Briscoe said. “We’ve got a good car and a great team and I think we’re going to have a real shot at winning races this year.”

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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).