INDIANAPOLIS – In the course of about a minute Friday morning, 48-year-old NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. might have talked himself into driving an Indy car.
Key word: might.
“I did get some chances to come out here and drive one by myself,” Earnhardt said when asked if he’d had the opportunity. “To be quite honest with you, I was really intimidated by the idea of driving one and how different that might be from what I was used to in stock cars.”
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Earnhardt, a 26-time winner in the NASCAR Cup Series, part of the NBC broadcast team for the 107th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. He and other members of the team – host Mike Tirico, studio analyst Danica Patrick, play-by-play man Leigh Diffey and analysts Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe – met with reporters Friday before the final Carburetion Day practice session.
“I never was asked when I was crazy enough to do it, back when I was younger and I might have, when I was in my 20s,” Earnhardt continued. “But when I got old enough and smart enough to know better, that’s when the opportunities came.”
Indy has a history of NASCAR drivers, and next year 2021 NASCAR champion Kyle Larson plans to attempt the Memorial Day Sunday double with the Indianapolis 500 midday and then NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 at night.
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A number of NASCAR drivers have taken the opportunity to drive an Indy car in testing, in addition to those who’ve done the double like Cup Series champions Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch. One tool Earnhardt would have at his disposal that Bill Elliott and Jimmy Spencer lacked a generation ago is a simulator. Simulators provide essentially the same experience as actually driving without the actual impact of a crash.
“I’d love to get in the simulator, and maybe that would encourage me to drive a car that was relatively simple to go around in,” Earnhardt said. “I was talking to Penske or somebody one year and they were like, 'man, we’ll strap all the downforce on it, you couldn’t wreck it, just go out there and hold it wide open and get a sense of it.'
“That might be pretty fun.”
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Once 'really intimidated' by driving an Indy car, would Dale Earnhardt Jr. reconsider?2023-05-26T23:15:27Z dg43tfdfdgfd