Penske hails iRacing impact on IndyCar: ‘It’s creating a lot of interest’

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Roger Penske has become an avid viewer of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge, and one driver in particular caught his eye at Michigan International Speedway (besides Team Penske winner Simon Pagenaud).

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s third place in his series debut had Penske thinking about translating virtual racing into the real world.

“The biggest news we had was when I got the call that Dale’s thinking about running, (and) I said, ‘How can we be sure he runs,’” Penske, who became the owner of the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year, said during a visit to the Dale Jr. Download podcast this week (the conversation will air at 4 p.m. ET today on NBCSN). “I saw that Nationwide car. It was terrific.

WATCH: Roger Penske on The Dale Jr. Download today, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN

“I hope Dale you’re going to run again with us. I thought it was terrific for us, and I thank you for taking the time to join the IndyCar Series, and hey, maybe when you decide if you want to run there for real at the Indy 500, maybe you give me a call, we’ll see if we can’t get you a good car.”

Earnhardt laughed and told Penske, “If I ever did, you’d be the guy I’d call first!”

The NASCAR on NBC analyst won’t be racing Saturday in Round 4 at Twin Ring Motegi (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN), but Earnhardt hinted he might return in the last two races.

Regardless, Penske still will be watching – and not just because his drivers are ranked in the top three spots of the unofficial points standings.

“With this technology we’ve had, people are taking it to the next level,” Penske said. “The iRacing guys have done a terrific job. The stick and ball sports can’t do this, can they? We’re unique in the case that we have this. It’s real. Will (Power), Scott (McLaughlin), (Simon) Pagenaud are on this for hours and are getting in trouble with their wives for spending so much time at the track.

“The technology has been terrific. But more important is I think what it’s done is kept us relevant because it keeps our drivers in social media talking about it, the cars, the sponsors. I think (that) is key. That’s giving us relevance, (putting) our model, our license in front of four fans, and it’s creating a lot of interest.”

The Michigan race averaged 202,000 viewers on NBCSN (peaking at 248,000), which was up 25 percent from the Barber Motorsports Park event the week before. The IndyCar iRacing Challenge was the No. 1 cable sports event in the 2:30-4 p.m. window Saturday.

Penske likes the audience metrics but cautions against too much of a good thing with IndyCar, NASCAR and IMSA all holding virtual races this week.

“One thing is we have to be careful we don’t oversaturate it,” he said. “We can’t run every single week with every driver. We talk about this internally, and we don’t want to cross pollinize, because I think NASCAR fans want to say, ‘What’s going on with the NASCAR people?’ At Indy, we wanted to have a couple of extra people to come in, invited guests like Dale and Jimmie (Johnson), that really makes a difference, but too much is too much.

“Let’s make these events real. Sooner or later, we’ll get too much of it. We want to keep it every time there is one, it’s something special.”

Max Verstappen is PointsBet favorite to score sixth staight in 2022 Singapore Grand Prix

PointsBet 2022 Singapore odds
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Max Verstappen is the PointsBet Sportsbook odds favorite to win the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix on the Marina Bay Street course to stretch his current win streak to six consecutive. He shows odds of -200 this week.

Formula 1 did not compete in Singapore in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Verstappen has podium finishes in his last two attempts on this track. he was second in 2018 and third in 2019. In the first 15 races of this season, he has failed to stand on the podium only twice and has an average finish of 2.73.

With minus odds, the way to determine a payout is by subtraction. In order for a bettor to earn $100, he must wager $200 this week; with that wager, he will get back his initial stake and winnings of $100.

For bettors more comfortable with fractional odds, a bet of +300 is the same as 3/1.

Charles Leclerc is ranked second this week with +400 odds. He has two previous Singapore GP starts to his credit with a best of second in 2019. He is coming off back-to-back podium finishes with a third in the Dutch GP and a second at Monza.

Ranked third is Carlos Sainz, Jr. with a line of +1100. He has top-five finishes in four of his last five starts, but only one of these, a third in the Belgian GP, was on the podium. Sainz is one of four winners other than Verstappen this season. His victory came in the British GP.

Lewis Hamilton shows a line of +1200. His last win came last fall in the Saudi Arabian GP and the Mercedes team has struggled to contend for victory in 2022. They are improving, however, with eight top-fives in the last nine races. Hamilton has two wins in his last three Singapore starts, which came in 2017 and 2018.

Rounding out the top five is Hamilton’s teammate George Russell at +1800. He has not won, but has shown remarkable consistency with top-fives in all but one race. Notably, his only bad finish came in his home GP in England. Russell has one previous start at Marina Bay; he finished last in the 2019 race. He finished fourth in 2019 as part of a four-race streak of top-fives.

The most recent Singapore GP winner from 2019, Sebastian Vettel is a longshot at +50000.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner, and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.

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