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Vettel pleased to unleash performance of Ferrari in Canada

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Sebastian Vettel may have seen his chance of winning the Canadian Grand Prix pass by thanks to a questionable strategy call, but he was pleased to unleash the full performance of his Ferrari en route to second place in Montreal.

Vettel made a rocket getaway from third on the grid to take the lead at Turn 1 from pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton.

Ferrari gambled on a two-stop strategy early on, pitting Vettel under a Virtual Safety Car period called following Jenson Button’s retirement.

Vettel emerged from the pits after his second stop six seconds behind Hamilton, and although he was able to cut the gap to 4.4 seconds at one stage, he could not sustain this pace to the end of the race, leaving him to settle for second place.

When asked on the podium what the issue was late on, Vettel wryly responded: “Lewis was a bit too quick, that was the issue!

“I think we had a great weekend. Fantastic start. Then lap one was bit hairy, I struggled to stop the car in the last corner. It was very windy today, maybe struggled a bit from the wind from behind.

“I was pushing all race. I think we committed fairly early to a different strategy which we were planning to come back. Obviously then Lewis had the chance to stay and see what the tires were doing.

“Probably the tires lasted a bit better than what we expected, so hat made it quite tricky with fresher tires to close the gap.”

Vettel was nevertheless pleased with the pace that Ferrari showed in Canada, making a big step forwards that showed it can compete with Mercedes for pace.

“Overall a great weekend for us. We struggled a little bit in the last couple of races and the beginning of the season,” Vettel said.

“But now to see the car has performance and I could unleash it, it was a really fun race. I really enjoyed it.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race the No. 3 vs. IndyCar stars in Michigan iRacing

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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).