Dale Jr. wants to try IndyCar iRacing; endorses Michigan, Dega, Daytona

James Black/IndyCar

If the invite comes from IndyCar, Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he happily will accept – and he’d be looking forward to the apparent next race in the iRacing Challenge.

“I think they should go to Michigan,” the NASCAR on NBC analyst said Monday during a Racing Week in America on NBCSN call with reporters. “The history the series has there is pretty awesome. I know that was a track that almost beat out Watkins Glen (in fan polling) for the first race. I know a lot of people want to see them race at Michigan.”

IndyCar has yet to announce the next track in its six-race iRacing Challenge series, but the April 11 event apparently will be held at Michigan International Speedway. The 2-mile oval was on the ballot as among the options for the “Driver’s Choice” race.

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Among the final three races on the IndyCar iRacing Challenge, two have yet to be chosen, and some IndyCar drivers have suggested Talladega Superspeedway would be a “brilliant” choice.

Earnhardt, a six-time winner at the 2.66-mile oval, also endorses a trip to Alabama – or Daytona Beach, Florida.

“Daytona or Talladega would be awesome to see the IndyCar guys try to tackle and have fun with it,” the 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver said.

NASCAR on NBC analyst Parker Kligerman, who has been competing with Earnhardt in the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series, is an avid iRacing driver (and team owner).

Kligerman has tried IndyCar at Talladega and said it was comparable to IndyCar’s 2015 Fontana race (which was broadcast Monday afternoon on NBCSN as part of Racing Week in America).

“It’s always been a sort of a fun race late at night that you think, ‘Let’s just go as fast as possible at a big oval and mess around,’ ” Kligerman told NBCSports.com. “The wrecks are huge, and the racing can be really funny.

“But I’m a huge proponent of doing things we can’t do in real life, like the Short Track Challenge, and I’ve always wanted to do Cup cars with full horsepower unrestricted at Daytona and Talladega. Just to show people what it would be like. So I say IndyCar should (race at Talladega), and most of all have fun with it.”

The field for Michigan likely will include a NASCAR driver in Jimmie Johnson as the seven-time Cup champion has driven the first two races (and has plans to race IndyCar part time in the future).

It might include Earnhardt, who said he is just waiting to hear from IndyCar.

“I wouldn’t want to step on anybody’s toes, so I’m just waiting for an invite from (IndyCar president) Jay (Frye) or somebody,” Earnhardt said. “I’d love to do it. 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.”

Earnhardt initially put the word out on Twitter last Thursday that he was interested in racing the IndyCar iRacing Challenge after the entry list for Barber Motorsports Park was released.

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field


Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.

Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

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