Jamin on top. Photo: Photos @ Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Nico Jamin secures USF2000 title, win at MRLS

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MONTEREY, Calif. – Nico Jamin has captured the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda championship, following another dominant drive in the second-to-last race of the season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The 19-year-old Frenchman, driver of the No. 2 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing entry, needed only to leave Saturday’s race with a 33-point lead over closest title rival Jake Eidson of Pabst Racing.

However Jamin delivered the title in style. He entered the weekend with a 50-point lead, scored the pole on Friday for another point, then ran away with the race for his eighth win of the season, and fifth in a row, to secure the title.

The title is his first in his second season in the championship, and the fifth straight for Cape in USF2000. Jamin follows Florian Latorre, Scott Hargrove, Matthew Brabham and Petri Suvanto. Sage Karam, then driving for Andretti Autosport, is the last non-Cape USF2000 champion.

While it looked easy from outside the cockpit, Jamin called it the “longest race of his life” behind the wheel.

“To be honest with you, it’s been the longest race of my life,” Jamin said. “The first or second lap I got a big gap, so don’t do any mistakes. Something in the car. I was so close. Don’t take any risk, don’t take any big curbs. But it was a really long race.

“I don’t have any big pressure anymore. Now I just have my clear concentrating to get another win.”

Jamin won by 8.2995 seconds over Anthony Martin and Eidson, who completed the podium finishers in the half hour race.

In the season finale, Jamin is supporting The B+ (Be Positive) Foundation, one of the nation’s leading organizations fighting childhood cancer. Jamin will donate 100 percent of his Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event prize money to The B+ Foundation.

Martin made a dynamic start in the No. 33 John Cummiskey Racing entry, getting around Jamin’s teammate Aaron Telitz, and then held on from there to end second.

“I got a really good run on Aaron and his slipstream. Jake was on the inside. Well I don’t really want to give up a spot to Jake. I got on the outside, gave Jake some room, got inside for Turn 3. Inside always wins there.

“I love (Turn) 6. I love the blind corners. The danger factor. You don’t know what’s over the hills. You have to trust your driving instincts. Fast corner, drops off and you bottom out a little bit. Awesome corner.”

Telitz and Parker Thompson completed the top five finishers. Race two on Sunday follows the last Indy Lights race of the year.

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).