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

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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.

Simon Pagenaud’s engineer relives 2019 Indy 500 victory on Twitter

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The Team Penske engineer for last year’s Indianapolis 500 winner is reliving Simon Pagenaud’s day by tweeting about what he was doing each moment a year later.

Starting with an observation that he awoke in his Indianapolis hotel room at 4:30 a.m., Ben Bretzman (@benbretzman) sent nearly two dozen tweets by 11 a.m. ET about how the morning before the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 unfolded.

Bretzman was through the infield tunnel and in Gasoline Alley by 6 a.m. By 7:30 a.m., he was wondering if his driver was awake yet, but he had heard for the first time from Pagenaud 45 minutes later.

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Among other highlights: The team’s last strategy meeting was at 8:30 a.m.; final check of the weather was at 9:30 a.m. and Bretzman gave the No. 22 Dallara-Chevrolet a once-over at 10:35 a.m. before it was pushed to the grid.

Follow @BenBretzman to watch the day unfold from the pit box and tune into “Back Home Again at 2 p.m. ET on NBC as Pageanud and Alexander Rossi, who are good friends off the track, recap their epic duel with host Mike Tirico.

Simon Pagenaud and engineer Ben Bretzman debrief at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IndyCar photo by Joe Skibinski).