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McLaughlin hangs on to edge teammate Power in Round 2 of INDYCAR iRacing Challenge at Barber

SOURCE: INDYCAR

INDIANAPOLIS (April 4, 2020) – Scott McLaughlin made the most of working the night shift, winning the Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst on Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park, the second round of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge.

New Zealand native and two-time Virgin Australia Supercars champion McLaughlin held off Team Penske teammate Will Power by .4241 of a second to earn his first win in the virtual racing series while driving through the early-morning hours at his home in Brisbane, Australia. McLaughlin started practice at 2 a.m. in Australia and qualified eighth for the 45-lap race, taking the checkered flag around 5:40 a.m. local time.

McLaughlin, who started eighth, averaged 115.276 mph for the victory in the No. 2 Shell V-Power Team Penske Chevrolet. He finished fourth in the series debut March 28 at Watkins Glen International.

Click: Results | Transcript 

“I’m really happy,” McLaughlin said. “I actually brought in (via voice chat) the INDYCAR engineer I’ve been working with in the States, Jonathan Diuguid. I give him credit. He put me on an awesome strategy. It’s a bit better than last week. I was playing with the fuel myself and trying to remember the numbers while I was driving. It was a bit easier this week.”

2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Power earned his second consecutive podium, finishing second in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Three-time Global RallyCross champion Scott Speed finished third in the No. 98 Surgere/Curb Honda fielded by Andretti Herta with Marco Andretti & Curb-Agajanian.

NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie Alex Palou finished fourth in the No. 55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda, with 2016 series champion Simon Pagenaud rounding out the top five in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet.

Veteran sim racer McLaughlin passed Speed with six laps remaining, diving inside in Turn 2 of the rolling, challenging 2.38-mile road course at Barber, located in Birmingham, Alabama. The circuit was scheduled to host the second event of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season Sunday, April 5, but the event weekend was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Then the final six laps of the race crystalized into a compelling duel between New Zealand native McLaughlin, racing in the wee hours of the morning in Australia, and Australian native Power, racing from his home in North Carolina.

Power closed to within seven-tenths of a second of McLaughlin with three laps to go, that gap closing to .533 of a second with two laps remaining. Power appeared to have a chance to close on McLaughlin’s gearbox as McLaughlin encountered the lapped car of five-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon, but Dixon moved out of the racing line on the final lap to let the leaders through in a sportsmanlike gesture in his series debut.

McLaughlin maintained the gap and his composure throughout the final lap until the final corner, when a puff of virtual smoke rose from his front Firestone tires due to locking his brakes. But he quickly recovered and held off Power for the win.

“When we pitted early, we pitted into a lot of traffic and lost a lot of seconds in that sequence,” Power said. “I wasn’t aware that Scott (McLaughlin) was on that strategy. I actually thought Sage (Karam) was still leading.

“My engineer just said, ‘Just focus on your laps: We can still win this thing.’ I thought he was just, ‘Come on, don’t worry about anything else,’ but what he was saying was, ‘You need to push out some laps.’ So, I think we could have made that a little more tight (at the finish), but I’m still really happy with second.”

The introduction of a competition caution to the series for the first time at this race bunched the field on Lap 15 and created many more strategic options than in the series debut Saturday, March 28 at Watkins Glen International.

McLaughlin, under direction from Team Penske lead engineer Jonathan Diuguid, made the bold move of pitting on Lap 14, just before the competition caution. McLaughlin was running ninth on Lap 21, two laps after the restart from the competition caution.

“It was crazy,” McLaughlin said. “I was particularly nervous at the Safety Car restart after the caution. I had new tires, but a lot of people didn’t in front. We got a good restart there, but it was a bit chaos.”

Leader, pole sitter and Watkins Glen race winner Sage Karam pitted for the first time from the lead on Lap 25 in the No. 24 DRR WIX Filters Chevrolet, handing the top spot to 2019 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year Felix Rosenqvist in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Rosenqvist pitted on the next lap, and McLaughlin found himself in the lead due to his early stop.

“The biggest thing was lapped traffic, getting blocked by lap traffic,” McLaughlin said. “That enabled us to get that jump in the pits because I was in clear air for a long time where others weren’t. Credit to Jonathan and the strategy. He put me out in front and put me in some clear air, and I was able to bang lap times out lap after lap.”

Meanwhile, Karam and Rosenqvist collided on track while dueling for position after Rosenqvist exited the pits. Karam eventually retired from the race after the collision and a subsequent tangle with a lapped car, placing 27th.

“We were looking pretty good after qualifying with another pole,” Karam said. “The DRR WIX Filters Chevy was in good shape, and the pace was going our way. At the competition yellow, the car still felt good and I got good restart, too. I was stuck behind (Sebastien Bourdais) just before the pit stop and lost a lot of time. He was just blocking me. That screwed up my in lap and out lap from the pit stop. That’s how Rosenqvist got in front of me after the pit stop.

“We were racing real hard and both being aggressive. He then overshot the corner. I couldn’t tell if I hit him then. He was spinning, and we made contact. We were racing for the win.”

McLaughlin led by 19.4 seconds on Lap 32 when he made his second and final pit stop, handing the lead to Speed. After that stop, McLaughlin had fresher Firestone tires than Speed and more than enough fuel to go the distance, so he stood on the throttle in pursuit.

By Lap 38, McLaughlin sliced Speed’s lead to just 1.5 seconds before making the decisive pass for the lead on Lap 40.

The other star of the race, televised live on NBCSN, was 2018 series Rookie of the Year Robert Wickens, who finished an incredible and eventful eighth in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

This was Wickens’ first racing competition of any kind since suffering serious injuries in a racing crash in August 2018 at Pocono Raceway. He only received his SimCraft simulator two days ago, equipped with special hand controls for throttle and brake since he has restricted use of his legs due to a spinal cord injury suffered in the crash.

Wickens spun in qualifying and started last in the 29-car field but wasted no time getting up to speed. He passed 10 cars in the opening seven laps and was up to 11th halfway through the race.

With 13 laps to go, Wickens spun into the gravel and suffered front wing damage but was able to continue from 11th place. Using a clutch paddle on his wheel for an accelerator and a separate lever for a hand brake, Wickens calmly continued to the finish for a strong top-10 result.

“It was a riot,” Wickens said. “We made the bold strategy of trying to make it on one stop under yellow. That was going to be my best race, as when I was saving fuel, that was my best strategy for not spinning out. We did massive fuel save the entire time after that yellow flag, and we just made with 0.2 gallons left at the finish line. It was great teamwork.

“It was great to have the Arrow McLaren SP engineers in my ears the whole time. In a way, it felt like the real thing. I’m just excited.”

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson finished 12th in the No. 48 Jimmie Johnson Racing Chevrolet. Dixon placed 16th in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda in his series debut.

Today’s race was the second of six events to take place every Saturday through May 2. Future venues include the first oval event, on April 11 at Michigan International Speedway, a “Random Draw” track April 18, Circuit of the Americas on April 25 and a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track May 2. The series opened March 28 at Watkins Glen International.

The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge will not crown an overall champion but will add a special element where INDYCAR will make a donation to one of its partner charities.

Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Fast Facts

When: 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday, April 4

Track: Barber Motorsports Park, a 17-turn, 2.38-mile road course in Birmingham, Alabama

Race distance: 45 laps/107.1 miles (approximately 60 minutes)

Push-to-pass parameters: 10 activations for a 10-second duration

Expected pit stops: One. Cars will be allowed two “Fast Repairs” during the race.

Competition caution: A planned competition caution period will bunch the field on Lap 15. It will consist of three laps, followed by a single-file restart.

Twitter: @IndyCar, @iRacing, @BarberMotorPark, #INDYCARChallenge, #INDYCAR, #HIGPA

TV/Online: 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN, NBCSports.com, NBC Sports App. Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer, alongside the network’s INDYCAR analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. The pre-race activities will be highlighted by Miss Alabama 2019 Tiara Pennington singing the national anthem and NBA and Auburn University legend Charles Barkley giving the command to start engines. The podium finishers will be interviewed on the live NBCSN broadcast. Diffey also will host a post-race virtual press conference with the podium finishers for media members (call-in details will be distributed).

Spotter guide: Click here to see a detailed spotter guide for this Saturday’s race.

Race notes:

• Sage Karam (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing) won the inaugural round of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge on Saturday, March 28, the American Red Cross Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International. Karam beat Felix Rosenqvist (Chip Ganassi Racing) to the checkered flag by 3.6174 seconds. Will Power (Team Penske) finished third in the 25-driver field.

• INDYCAR has conducted 10 Indy car races at Barber Motorsports Park. Takuma Sato won the most-recent race at the track, in 2019. Helio Castroneves won the first Indy car race at Barber, in 2010.

• Reigning series champion Josef Newgarden is the winningest Indy car driver at Barber Motorsports Park with three victories (2015, 2017 and 2018). Newgarden is in the field for the virtual race Saturday after finishing seventh last Saturday at Watkins Glen.

• The field for Saturday’s race at Barber consists of 29 drivers, including 21 with previous starts in Indy car races at the track. Watkins Glen INDYCAR iRacing Challenge winner Sage Karam has just one previous start at Barber, in 2015 for Chip Ganassi Racing. Most notable among drivers without Indy car starts at Barber is seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson , who raced in an Indy car last Saturday at Watkins Glen after 18 Cup Series starts at that track.

• Four drivers are joining the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge for the first time this Saturday: Five-time series champion Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing), 2018 series Rookie of the Year Robert Wickens (Arrow McLaren SP), three-time Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge pole winner Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing) and Jack Harvey (Meyer Shank Racing).

• Nineteen of the 24 drivers who started the inaugural event last Saturday at Watkins Glen were running at the finish, proving these athletes are just as skilled in the virtual world as in reality.

VIRTUAL HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA presented by AmFirst PRE-EVENT QUOTES:

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet): “I am still trying to understand how the whole system works and how to generate lap time. Overall, I miss the feel of the race car to perform, but I have spent a fair amount of time trying to improve. Hopefully it pays off and I can put on a good performance in the Tresiba car.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “I am looking forward to finally getting some racing in on Saturday! It has been a long time since I competed in a road race, both the cars and iRacing have changed quite a lot. I am a week late to the party, but hopefully I will be up to speed enough to give the 21 car a good ride! I know my friends and family are excited to watch me, so no pressure! Hopefully everyone tunes into NBCSN and enjoys a little bit of relief from their quarantine.”

CONOR DALY (No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet): “Really, the most exciting thing about this weekend is that Ed Carpenter is going racing on road courses again. I’m very excited to have my teammate out there! We’re ready to battle it out against our virtual opponents that are also in their basements or closets or laundry rooms, playing video games on the internet. Let’s hope this U.S. Air Force car looks good on internet screenshots! It’s going to be a good show for the people and hopefully make them smile a little bit.”

MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I’m really looking forward to the second round of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge. Barber Motorsports Park is a fun track to race on. I’ve been practicing a bit this week, and it feels pretty good! I’m still quite new to this sim world but getting there step-by-step. And I think it should be better than last week, at least. Now I’ve connected my motor for the force feedback unit more properly and not have it in safety mode like last time. So, that’s a good improvement already there! So, hopefully it’s going to be a good race, good entertainment. I hope we can put on a good show and get the Chip Ganassi Huski Chocolate Honda car up to the front!”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “I’m super-excited to be racing the No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda this weekend in the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge at Barber Motorsports Park. I’m really happy that INDYCAR has opened the grid to a bigger selection of cars and drivers. I’m also incredibly impressed with how iRacing is continually updating things. The updates and field will benefit the show for the fans, which is the most important things. It’s also a lot of fun for the drivers. To race against guys like Jimmie Johnson, who you wouldn’t normally see, is really awesome. It’s also really great to see that we are back on NBCSN this weekend, so tune in: There is going to be a lot of action.”

KYLE KAISER (No. 11 Juncos Racing Chevrolet): “I’ve been extremely impressed with INDYCAR and iRacing’s collaboration. The first race was a lot of fun in the No. 11 Juncos Racing entry, and as everyone gets more comfortable on the simulator, it’ll only become more exciting. I’m glad the second race will be broadcast live on NBCSN for more fans to watch the great product INDYCAR has put together. I’m hoping the hours I’ve been putting in on the simulator this week will get us a top-10 finish!”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet): “Another virtual race this weekend. I’ve been putting a bit more hours on the sim, but it’s still very new to me. I’m doing this for the fans, but to be honest, I can’t wait to get to the real racetrack.”

SAGE KARAM (No. 24 DRR Wix Filters Chevrolet): “I was pretty worn out after Saturday’s race. It was very mentally draining. In iRacing, we don’t have the fear factor of crashing or wrecking the car. But you are racing on the edge with proper steering and pedal pressure as in an Indy car, and you are racing wheel-to-wheel in a competition. And all of the drivers are extremely competitive. You have to continue to concentrate like a regular race. As a part time driver in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, I needed to be sharp with my reflexes and car control when I wasn’t on track. I discovered iRacing quite a while back, and I truly believe it has helped me with my racing career. I was more nervous before the Glen race than at the Indy 500. I paced the house for six hours before the race. When I was a kid, one of my dreams was to be interviewed on ESPN ‘SportsCenter’ after winning a big race. And then last Saturday, I was on the 11 p.m. ESPN ‘SportsCenter’ talking with John Anderson after winning the iRacing race. I always thought it would be after a regular INDYCAR race, not from iRacing. But this current pandemic has caused the world to really turn upside-down. And we are doing this racing for our fans, too. With nothing happening in sports, it is a fun way for them to watch INDYCAR racing in a different form. The Barber track isn’t one of my favorites, but I’ll be ready on Saturday.”

DALTON KELLETT (No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet): “Barber Motorsports Park is one of my favorite road courses in the U.S. I wasn’t slated to drive the No. 14 car there this season, so I am actually very excited to have a chance to race there in the No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet! Last weekend showed that we can put on a good race for the fans, and the quality of competition will only improve as everyone gets accustomed to the nuances of iRacing. Looking forward to a good show!”

SCOTT McLAUGHLIN (No. 2 Shell V-Power Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was bloody fun to race against everyone in INDYCAR last weekend in iRacing and to do it again this weekend at Barber. I got a lot of pub back here in Australia and in New Zealand for just being a part of it. We had some pretty wild moments, but it was all in good fun. These dudes are just as tough of competitors online as they are in person. So, we will do it all again this weekend. My alarm will be set to go off at 2 a.m., which is super early, but no worries. I heard it’s going to be broadcasted in the U.S. on NBC Sports Network, and that’s just awesome. I’m ready to get after it.”

FELIPE NASR (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “I can’t wait to get back out there this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park in the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet for the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge. Racing with everyone last weekend at Watkins Glen was so much fun, and even though I got taken out early and had to battle back, I had a great time. I’ve been putting in a lot of time on the simulator this week, so hopefully we can come away with a better result this weekend!”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet): “Last week was so much fun. It was great to be back racing in INDYCAR – in the digital world. iRacing is such a cool thing for fans, in general, since they can experience what we can do first-hand. Not only can they watch the race broadcast, but a lot of us are streaming our individual races to YouTube, Twitch and other outlets. I had a huge following on my YouTube page. I’ve been spending a lot of time in my rig preparing my PPG Chevy for this Saturday’s race at Barber. It’s one of my favorite tracks in person, and it’s also pretty great through iRacing. I’m comfortable there, as my team has really helped me be successful there in the past, so I’m really looking forward to this event. I know all of us drivers are going to love it, and I can’t wait for even more fans to see us this weekend when it’s broadcast on NBC Sports Network. It’s going to be awesome.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge has been a lot of fun. Last week was a rush to get ready and get to a competitive level, for sure, with 15-hour days of work to find speed and acclimate myself to my new simulator and the virtual Indy car. This Saturday in Barber I feel much more in control, and my chances to be more competitive are much greater. I love a new challenge, and I am extremely pleased that we can still showcase our sport to our fans. We have an amazing fan base. It’s pretty cool to see the Menards Chevy and soon the DXC Technology car on our broadcast with NBCSN this Saturday at 2.30 p.m. ET. This is getting more and more competitive, as I can see drivers training days and night to get better; we are a competitive breed, after all. Good news is we are going racing this weekend! Enjoy!”

ALEX PALOU (No. 55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda): “Once again, I’m really excited for this weekend’s INDYCAR iRacing Challenge. Last weekend’s first race was not what I had expected, but I was really quick, which was good. We had good pace during the race, but then I messed up a bit with the pit stop settings. I didn’t have a crew on the first stop, and the second one they didn’t change my tires, so I crashed with old tires. It was a learning experience! It was my first official iRacing race. I’ve done some races before but never at this level of competition; it was more for fun, playing video games. I’ve been preparing for Barber quite a lot, and I’ve upgraded my sim, so hopefully that helps, too. I’m hoping we can finish in the top five, as that would be a really good result. Of course, a podium would be even better, but we’ll have to see how Sage (Karam), Felix (Rosenqvist) and Will (Power) do. I think those three are always really quick and difficult to beat.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I really do just love iRacing. We had a lot of success last weekend at Watkins Glen, and I can’t wait to race this weekend at Barber. It’s such a technical track. It doesn’t matter if you’re racing in person or digitally; it’s a challenge, and I love that about it. It’s one of those tracks where that first turn is so important, so I’ve definitely been working on my plan for the Verizon Chevy. I know I’m excited for the race, and it’s so awesome that the race will be on NBCSN this Saturday. It’s going to be a great show for the fans.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 One Cure Honda): “Building some excitement for One Cure and doing this to raise more money for our Turns for Troops program with United Rentals is the main goal for us, and I think it’s great for the race to be on NBC Sports. It feels good to try to get closer to our goal of reaching $1 million raised this year even though we aren’t officially racing. Virtual Barber is a lot different than the real Barber. It’s hard to get the right sensations and right feel for what you’re doing and, frankly, just to understand the limits of the car and everything else. It’s not that it’s fake in a way that it’s completely off. You have to learn the limitations, and the limitations are very different than reality, and so that does make it quite challenging. I figure I have spent way too much time on iRacing lately but not as much as some of the others. I’ve been watching how much practice some guys are getting, and some are getting tons. In contrast to most, I still have a business to run with the performance shop, so I simply can’t spend all day, every day like a lot of guys are, but I’m giving it my best effort. It’s definitely addicting. We definitely want to be competitive and do well. How much better am I now than a week ago? I don’t know if I’m a lot better. I would say I’m similar, but I’m trying my best to be competitive and do the best I can and certainly trying to improve. My biggest surprise is just how important the steering wheel is. I’m finding that just getting your settings right is 99 percent of the battle. Once you get it right, you can find a lot of lap time fairly easily.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “Looking forward to get back on it this weekend. I’ve not practiced so much yet, so I feel like I have some work to do in the next 24 hours! The field looks way tighter, looking at the lap charts so far. So, it will be a fun race, indeed. I finished in P2 last weekend, but I’m hoping to fight through to the top tomorrow in the NTT DATA Honda car!”


5 Things To Look For …’ heading into Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

INDIANAPOLIS (April 3, 2020) – The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, a virtual racing event featuring a full field of NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers, continues Saturday, April 4 with the Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET at Barber Motorsports Park.

The event, which will last approximately 60 minutes, will be broadcast live on NBCSN. The NBC broadcasting team of Leigh DiffeyTownsend Bell and Paul Tracy will call the action. The pre-race activities will be highlighted by 2019 Miss Alabama Tiara Pennington singing the national anthem and NBA and Auburn University legend Charles Barkley giving the command to start engines.

Click: Entry List | Spotter Guide

The entry list of 29 drivers – up from 25 from the series opener March 28 at Watkins Glen International – includes series champions Scott DixonJosef NewgardenSimon PagenaudWill PowerSebastien BourdaisTony Kanaan, five Indianapolis 500 winners and collectively has registered 189 series victories.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson also is back this week after starting 19th and finishing 16th last Saturday at Watkins Glen in his first competition in an Indy car, albeit virtual.

The Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is the second of six events to be held weekly each Saturday through May 2. After this event, remaining races include a “Driver’s Choice” track (April 11), a “Random Draw” track (April 18), Circuit of The Americas (April 25) and a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track (May 2).

Here are “5 Things To Look For…” heading into Saturday’s Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama:

‘New Faces’

The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge field grew to 29 drivers for the Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama this Saturday with the addition of five-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing), 2018 series Rookie of the Year Robert Wickens (Arrow McLaren SP), three-time Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge pole winner Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing) and Jack Harvey (Meyer Shank Racing).

All drivers in this week’s field – including the four newcomers – will encounter a new strategic element, as a competition caution period will bunch the field on Lap 15. A single-file restart will follow the three-lap caution period.

‘Welcome Back, Robert’

2018 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year Robert Wickens will return to competition this weekend as he makes his INDYCAR iRacing Challenge debut in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

Wickens, from Guelph, Ontario, suffered serious injuries in an accident during an INDYCAR race in July 2018 at Pocono Raceway. He will compete Saturday in a SimCraft simulator with special hand controls because of restricted use of his legs and feet due to a spinal cord injury suffered in the crash.

Former INDYCAR driver and current INDYCAR race steward Max Papis is helping Wickens’ efforts to compete virtually. Papis’ steering wheel company, Max Papis Innovations, designed and produced a custom wheel with hand controls for Wickens. The unit arrived at Wickens’ home Thursday, April 2, but he didn’t have enough time to get acclimated with it before Saturday’s race, so he will use the MPI unit at future rounds of the virtual series.

While Wickens is excited to compete virtually, he sees the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge as another important step in his goal to return to real race cars. His journey also has included tireless hours of physical therapy and rehabilitation, which he has documented often and inspired millions with on social media.

“The biggest thing for me is although this is fun, I see this as the long-term project of getting me back into the race car,” Wickens said. “I always knew through simulation was going to be the best way to trial different handbrake or paddle configurations. This is step one of a hundred to get me back into the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.”

‘Coach Karam’

Sage Karam , a veteran and successful iRacing competitor, so dominated the inaugural round of the series Saturday, March 28 that his rivals have sought his advice this week during preparation for the Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

NTT INDYCAR SERIES veteran Karam won the pole and led 43 of the 45 laps in his No. 24 WIX Filters DRR Chevrolet to beat Felix Rosenqvist of Chip Ganassi Racing to the checkered flag by 3.6174 seconds at Watkins Glen International.

Now that he’s a marked man as the current king of INDYCAR iRacing, Karam is dispensing tips to his rivals – to a point.

“It’s fun to help them get up to speed in iRacing,” Karam said. “I just don’t want to give them too much information as I am still competing against them each week from my home. If I can help make the overall product more competitive, it will be great for the racing on the screen and the racing fans.”

‘Carpenter Back on the Road’

Ed Carpenter is known and respected as one of the best oval racers in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. All three of his career series victories have come on circle tracks, and he also has won the pole for the Indianapolis 500 three times.

Road racing? Well, not so fast. Ed Carpenter Racing owner-driver Carpenter has driven only in oval events for the last six-plus years, with his last road-course start in the series coming Oct. 6, 2013 on the street course in Houston.

But the lure of competing against his friends and rivals in the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge was too much for Carpenter to resist. So, he’s hitting the road and making his virtual series debut Sunday in the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet. Carpenter is using the No. 21 of ECR teammate Rinus VeeKay because ECR teammate Conor Daly already is using Carpenter’s No. 20 virtual car, as Daly will compete in all real NTT INDYCAR SERIES road and street events this season in the No. 20.

“I am looking forward to finally getting some racing in on Saturday,” Carpenter said. “It has been a long time since I competed in a road race. Both the cars and iRacing have changed quite a lot. I am a week late to the party, but hopefully I will be up to speed enough to give the 21 car a good ride! 

“I know my friends and family are excited to watch me, so no pressure! Hopefully everyone tunes into NBCSN and enjoys a little bit of relief from their quarantine.”

‘Turns for Troops’

United Rentals and NTT INDYCAR SERIES veteran Graham Rahal are teaming up to continue the Turns for Troops program during the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge. United Rentals has committed to donate $50 per lap that Rahal completes this season to the SoldierStrong program to help improve the lives of U.S. military veterans.

Through cutting-edge rehabilitation, recovery and scholarship programs, SoldierStrong transforms the lives of U.S. service members by empowering them to regain their mobility, freedom and overall sense of identity.

Fans can learn more about Turns for Troops and SoldierStrong by visiting turnsfortroops.ur.com.

REVISED: Growing field eyes dominant Karam entering Round 2 of INDYCAR iRacing Challenge Saturday at Barber

SOURCE INDYCAR PR:

NBCSN to broadcast competition live

INDIANAPOLIS (April 2, 2020) – Who can stop Sage?

That’s the big question Saturday, April 4 as the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, a virtual racing event featuring a full field of NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers, continues at 2:30 p.m. (ET) with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst at virtual Barber Motorsports Park.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver Sage Karam won the pole and led 43 of 45 laps Saturday, March 28 in the No. 24 DRR Wix Filters Chevrolet to win the inaugural event of the virtual racing series, the American Red Cross Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International. Karam beat runner-up Felix Rosenqvist of Chip Ganassi Racing (No. 10 NTT DATA Honda) to the finish by 3.6174 seconds, with Will Power of Team Penske (No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet) placing third.

There will be an exciting new addition to the second round of the series Saturday: a live broadcast on NBCSN, including the NBC broadcasting team of Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.

Karam will lead a growing field of 29 drivers in the race Saturday, up from 25 drivers for the opener. New additions include 2018 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year Robert Wickens (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet), five-time series champion Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda), three-time Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge pole winner Ed Carpenter (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet) and Jack Harvey (No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda).

Click here: Entry List

The entry list represents 15 different teams or organizations competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and a field of drivers that has amassed 189 NTT INDYCAR SERIES victories and 14 series championships. Dixon will boost a lineup of series champions that includes Team Penske teammates Josef Newgarden (No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet), Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) and Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet), along with Sebastien Bourdais (No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet) and Tony Kanaan (No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet) of AJ Foyt Racing.

Other NTT INDYCAR SERIES race winners entered in the race Saturday include Graham Rahal (No. 15 One Cure Honda), Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda), James Hinchcliffe (No. 29 Genesys Honda) and Colton Herta (No. 88 Capstone Honda).

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Jimmie Johnson Racing Chevrolet) also will continue his exploration of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES by racing in Round 2. He placed 16th after starting 19th last Saturday in his virtual INDYCAR debut at Watkins Glen, running at the finish.

The field will race for 45 laps over a virtual version of the rolling, challenging 2.38-mile road course at Barber, located in Birmingham, Alabama. The circuit was scheduled to host the second event of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season Sunday, April 5, but the event weekend was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

All drivers will work with an additional competitive element Saturday, a planned competition caution period that will bunch the field after the round of pit stops is completed, sometime between Laps 28 and 31, and will consist of three laps. A single-file restart will follow this caution period.

The event, which will last approximately 60 minutes, will be televised live on NBCSN. Additional viewing options are still to be confirmed.

The starting lineup will be set through a 10-minute qualifying session prior to the event. In the interest of fairness, iRacing will give all participants the same car setups.

Saturday’s race at a virtual version of Barber Motorsports Park, located in Birmingham, Alabama, is the second of six races to take place every Saturday through May 2. Future venues include a “Driver’s Choice” track April 11, a “Random Draw” track April 18, Circuit of the Americas on April 25 and a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track May 2. The series opened March 28 at Watkins Glen International.

The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge will not crown an overall champion but will add a special element where INDYCAR will make a donation to one of its partner charities.

NBC Sports Presents INDYCAR iRacing Challenge from Virtual Barber Motorsports Park Saturday on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET

TSO NOTE: There are 2 INDYCAR press releases contained below – sorry for the delay

Inaugural Presentation of INDYCAR iRacing Challenge on NBCSN

NBC Sports INDYCAR Commentary Team of Leigh Diffey, Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell Will Call Saturday’s Event

Event to Stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports App

NBC Sports presents the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, a live, virtual racing event featuring a field of NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers, this Saturday with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at the virtual Barber Motorsports Park live at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The event will mark the inaugural INDYCAR iRacing event to appear on NBCSN.

More than two dozen INDYCAR drivers are expected to compete in this weekend’s INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, including five-time series champion Scott Dixon, two-time and reigning series champion Josef Newgarden, and 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud. Last Saturday, 2013 Indy Lights champion Sage Karam won the inaugural INDYCAR iRacing Challenge American Red Cross Grand Prix at the virtual Watkins Glen International.

NBC Sports’ lead INDYCAR broadcast team of Leigh Diffey (play-by-play), Paul Tracy (analyst), and Townsend Bell (analyst) will call the action.

This marks the latest collaboration between NBC Sports and iRacing, which began in 2019 when NBC Sports telecast the first-ever eNASCAR live event on television. NBC Sports and iRacing teamed up to present the 2019 eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Championship in a two-hour event live on NBCSN last October.


Growing field eyes dominant Karam entering Round 2 of INDYCAR iRacing Challenge Saturday at Barber

NBCSN to broadcast competition live

INDIANAPOLIS (April 2, 2020) – Who can stop Sage?

That’s the big question Saturday, April 4 as the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, a virtual racing event featuring a full field of NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers, continues at 2:30 p.m. (ET) with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst at virtual Barber Motorsports Park.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver Sage Karam won the pole and led 43 of 45 laps Saturday, March 28 in the No. 24 DRR Wix Filters Chevrolet to win the inaugural event of the virtual racing series, the American Red Cross Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International. Karam beat runner-up Felix Rosenqvist of Chip Ganassi Racing (No. 10 NTT DATA Honda) to the finish by 3.6174 seconds, with Will Power of Team Penske (No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet) placing third.

There will be an exciting new addition to the second round of the series Saturday: a live broadcast on NBCSN, including the NBC broadcasting team of Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.

Karam will lead a growing field of 29 drivers in the race Saturday, up from 25 drivers for the opener. New additions include 2018 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year Robert Wickens (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet), five-time series champion Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda), three-time Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge pole winner Ed Carpenter (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet) and Jack Harvey (No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda).

Click here: Entry List

The entry list represents 15 different teams or organizations competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and a field of drivers that has amassed 189 NTT INDYCAR SERIES victories and 14 series championships. Dixon will boost a lineup of series champions that includes Team Penske teammates Josef Newgarden (No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet), Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) and Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet), along with Sebastien Bourdais (No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet) and Tony Kanaan (No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet) of AJ Foyt Racing.

Other NTT INDYCAR SERIES race winners entered in the race Saturday include Graham Rahal (No. 15 One Cure Honda), Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda), James Hinchcliffe (No. 29 Genesys Honda) and Colton Herta (No. 88 Capstone Honda).

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Jimmie Johnson Racing Chevrolet) also will continue his exploration of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES by racing in Round 2. He placed 16th after starting 19th last Saturday in his virtual INDYCAR debut at Watkins Glen, running at the finish.

The field will race for 45 laps over a virtual version of the rolling, challenging 2.38-mile road course at Barber, located in Birmingham, Alabama. The circuit was scheduled to host the second event of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season Sunday, April 5, but the event weekend was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

All drivers will work with an additional competitive element Saturday, a planned competition caution period that will bunch the field after the round of pit stops is completed, sometime between Laps 28 and 31, and will consist of three laps. A single-file restart will follow this caution period.

The event, which will last approximately 60 minutes, will be televised live on NBCSN and will be streamed through INDYCAR.com for fans to enjoy the virtual action. The event also will be available on INDYCAR’s YouTube and Facebook as well as iRacing’s Twitch.

The starting lineup will be set through a 10-minute qualifying session prior to the event. In the interest of fairness, iRacing will give all participants the same car setups.

Saturday’s race at a virtual version of Barber Motorsports Park, located in Birmingham, Alabama, is the second of six races to take place every Saturday through May 2. Future venues include a “Driver’s Choice” track April 11, a “Random Draw” track April 18, Circuit of the Americas on April 25 and a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track May 2. The series opened March 28 at Watkins Glen International.

The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge will not crown an overall champion but will add a special element where INDYCAR will make a donation to one of its partner charities.

NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver Sage Karam wins American Red Cross Grand Prix

SOURCE: INDYCAR PR

INDIANAPOLIS (March 28, 2020) – Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver Sage Karam (No. 24 DRR Wix Filters Chevrolet) got the virtual INDYCAR iRacing Challenge rolling Saturday with a win from the pole in the American Red Cross Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International.

Karam led 43 of the 45 laps and beat Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist (No. 10 NTT DATA Honda) by 3.6174 seconds in the debut event of the six-race INDYCAR iRacing Challenge. Team Penske’s Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet) finished third.

While this may have been his first virtual win against a full field of fellow NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers, he is no stranger to Victory Lane in iRacing. It was his 144th iRacing road-course win in 533 starts and 165th iRacing victory overall. For the win, he will have a donation to American Red Cross made in his name by INDYCAR and earn a virtual winner’s trophy and ring from Jostens.

Click: Results / Transcript / 

Karam, the 2013 Indy Lights champion, has made 19 actual NTT INDYCAR SERIES starts over six seasons, scoring a career-best third at Iowa Speedway in 2015.

“It was nerve-wracking there at the end, for sure,” he said in reference to a late-race, near-miss with Indy Pro 2000 champion Kyle Kirkwood, who was subbing for Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay in the No. 28 DHL Honda. “That was a little too close for comfort (in Turn 10), a (scary) moment. I didn’t know which way he was going to go when he started to spin, so I had to quick rely on some instincts and picked ‘left’ and thankfully it was the right choice.”

Karam, one of the most experienced iRacing drivers in this field, applauded his competitors for investing the necessary practice time this week to make the inaugural online show entertaining for the fans.

“It was a lot of fun, and it was great that we could give the fans something to watch,” he said. “It’s the only sport that (the world) can really do right now. I’m happy that I got the win for Wix Filters and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. The car looked pretty good out front so hopefully when we get to real racing, we can replicate that.”

The virtual event featured most of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers expecting to be in the midst of the actual season had the coronavirus pandemic not occurred. The upside of being able to stage such an event was that it allowed seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and two-time Virgin Australia Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin to participate against them.

Team Penske’s McLaughlin (No. 2 Shell V-Power Chevrolet) was strong, finishing fourth ahead of NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie Oliver Askew (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP).

Johnson, who has eyes on INDYCAR road racing in the future, started ninth and ran well in his INDYCAR virtual debut despite having a couple of incidents. He was collected in the first-lap accident that included Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi (No. 27 AutoNation/NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda), among others. Then on Lap 34, Johnson’s car drifted wide exiting the track’s famed “bus stop” section and hit the outside wall. He finished 16th.

The race featured the virtual debut of INDYCAR’s new Aeroscreen, a revolutionary cockpit-protecting device. The visuals provided by iRacing, the world’s premier motorsports racing simulation, gave INDYCAR fans a glimpse of the actual racing to come.

The action might have been online, but it wasn’t without significant effort on the part of the participants. Rosenqvist, an avid virtual racer, sounded tired afterward in his post-race interview.

“A long and sweaty race,” he said. “Good fun.

“It was hard to catch Sage. I think that was a very deserved win for him. I tried to take advantage of some lapping from the cars behind, but he always seemed to get through the traffic even better. He seemed to have (the lead) under control.”

The second of six events will be held Saturday, April 4, on the Barber Motorsports Park permanent road course. The event will be held at 4 p.m. ET and streamed through INDYCAR.com while INDYCAR’s YouTube and Facebook platforms as well as iRacing’s Twitch will serve as additional outlets for viewing.

Future events will be held weekly each Saturday through May 2 at the following sites: a “Driver’s Choice” track (April 11), “Random Draw” track (April 18), Circuit of The Americas (April 25) and a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track (May 2).

ABOUT INDYCAR:

INDYCAR is the Indianapolis-based governing body for North America’s premier open-wheel auto racing series known as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The series features an international field of the world’s most versatile drivers – including five-time series champion Scott Dixon, reigning series champion Josef Newgarden and defending Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud – who compete on superspeedways, short ovals, street circuits and permanent road courses. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IMS Productions are owned by Penske Corporation, a global transportation, automotive and motorsports leader. For more information on INDYCAR and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, please visit www.indycar.com.

ABOUT iRacing.com:

The world leader in the online racing simulation and gaming market, iRacing was founded in 2004 by Dave Kaemmer and John Henry. Kaemmer was co-founder of Papyrus Design Group, developers of award-winning racing simulations including “Grand Prix Legends” and NASCAR 2003.” Henry is principal owner of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club, as well as co-owner of NASCAR’s Roush Fenway Racing. iRacing.com has developed dozens of formal partnerships in the motorsport industry to help create the most authentic racing simulation in the world including with NASCAR, IndyCar, International Speedway Corporation, Speedway Motorsports, IMSA, World of Outlaws, Mazda Motorsports, McLaren Racing, Williams F1, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Volkswagen, the Skip Barber Racing School and General Motors.

Entries set for first INDYCAR iRacing Challenge

NTT INDYCAR SERIES stars readyfor inaugural INDYCAR iRacing Challenge INDIANAPOLIS (March 26, 2020) – A full field of NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers, including reigning series champion Josef Newgarden and 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud, is set to compete virtually in the inaugural INDYCAR iRacing Challenge on Saturday beginning at 4 p.m. ET. The entry list…

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Sage Karam previews INDYCAR iRacing Challenge

INDIANAPOLIS (March 25, 2020) — Sage Karam will be settling into the seat of his No. 24 DRR Wix Filters Chevrolet for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing on Saturday, but it will be in the comfort of his own home.

Karam will be among the large contingent of NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers taking part in the inaugural INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, which will be a virtual race among the series’ best. Saturday’s event will begin at 4 p.m. ET and be streamed through INDYCAR.com for fans to enjoy the action. It also will be available on INDYCAR’s YouTube and Facebook as well as iRacing’s Twitch.

The experience and expectations will be widely varied among the series athletes participating, and Karam would fall into the veteran category with high expectations. He owns some of the best equipment, practices on his personal computer almost daily in his home in Nazareth, Pa., and is a member of an actual simulation team. Through iRacing, which organizes, hosts and officiates online racing on virtual tracks around the world, Karam gets to hone his skills against some of the top gamers.

Most NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers own proper gaming equipment, but they use iRacing to varying degrees. Some drivers are more active than others, which means their skill sets vary.

Given his experience in iRacing, Karam was asked what should we expect in Saturday’s INDYCAR iRacing Challenge debut event. The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge will run weekly on Saturdays at 4 p.m. ET through May 2.

How serious are NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers about sim racing on their personal computers?

“I’d say about 30 percent are into sim racing and about 15 percent are religious about it. If you’ve jumped in an actual simulator (as professional drivers have) and know how to drive a race car like we do, there’s a pretty decent chance you’re going to be competitive.”

What level of equipment does an INDYCAR driver need to be competitive Saturday?

“Honestly, if they’ve got a decent computer that can run the software they should be fine. Anyone who is serious has good stuff. Like, I’ve got a pretty good set of pedals that I can calibrate to my liking – I like it to feel how hard you have to hit the brakes in an Indy car to stop it. But it’s like anything else, it can get expensive. When I started, I had a (combined) pedal and steering wheel unit that cost me $300. Now, my pedals alone cost $1,500, and I have three monitors. It can get pretty crazy, like racing does.”

Is the sensation similar to driving on an actual track?

“You’re feeling the strength it takes to drive an actual car, but you’re not feeling the little details – that feeling in your butt or feeling when the car bottoms out or loses traction or slides. You don’t get those little details. But it’s pretty close in a lot of ways.”

Would you rather virtually race on a road course or an oval?

“I think a road course puts on a better show; it would go a lot smoother and be a better show than an oval. When you’re on a simulator you have no fear of getting hurt, so on an oval you’re not scared to make a mistake. You can make it three-wide going into a corner where you’d never do that in real life and if you wreck it’s like … ‘OK.’ So, on a road course there are a lot fewer yellows and that makes for a better show.”

Everyone in this race will have the same car setup, which takes away some of the advantage you might have as an experienced sim racer. Is that the best way?

“Yes. We want this to be a competitive race. With open setups, I would do better, for sure. But for fairness, this is the best thing for everyone — and the fans.”

Obviously, large gatherings have been shuttered for the next several weeks. Do you find a simulated race to be a good alternative for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and its fans?

“We all know why we can’t (gather in large groups). We’re the only sport that can do something like this. It’s a win-win for all of us. It gives us something to compete in, and it’s cool for the fans. It’s a pretty good solution with everything that’s going on.”

INDYCAR iRacing Challenge featuring several series stars to debut March 28

INDYCAR iRacing Challenge featuring several 
series stars to debut March 28

INDIANAPOLIS (March 20, 2020) – INDYCAR is going racing again, virtually that is.

INDYCAR and iRacing, the world’s premier motorsports racing simulation, are partnering to currently stage six virtual race events featuring a stellar lineup of current NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers and possibly some special guests beginning Saturday, March 28.

Each race will be streamed live on indycar.com for the enjoyment of racing fans while the current 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season is suspended through April as a result of the coronavirus situation. While indycar.com will serve as the primary live streaming source, there also will be secondary platforms to watch the virtual race events each week – INDYCAR’s YouTube and Facebook Live as well as iRacing’s Twitch.

Each virtual race event, which will last approximately 90 minutes to two hours, will begin at 4 p.m. ET each Saturday through May 2.

To enhance the fan experience, INDYCAR will conduct a 15-minute, pre-race virtual autograph session with several of the participants beginning at 3:15 p.m. each week. There also will be a live interview with the race winner by post-race host Katie Hargitt on INDYCAR’s Instagram immediately following the conclusion of the race.

The inaugural INDYCAR iRacing Challenge race venue will be selected through bracket voting by fans today through Thursday. Fans can vote daily on the track match-up in the bracket to determine which venue will advance to the next round. The voting, which has a 12-hour window beginning 10 a.m. daily after today, is available through the @INDYCAR Instagram and Twitter handles or online at indycar.com/iracing.

The opening virtual race event will be followed by Barber Motorsports Park (April 4), “Driver’s Choice” track (April 11), “Random Draw” track (April 18), Circuit of The Americas (April 25) and a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track (May 2).

The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge events will feature qualifications in addition to the races. Teams will be able to design car liveries to match their desired paint schemes. To further give the action an authentic look and feel, each car will be equipped with INDYCAR’s new Aeroscreen, a revolutionary cockpit-protecting device introduced for the 2020 season.

The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge will not crown an overall champion but will add a special element where INDYCAR will make a donation to one of its partner charities.

An entry list of the drivers participating, along with the bracket-winning race venue for the opener, will be announced next week.

Statement from INDYCAR: All events cancelled through April

“After careful consideration, including regular communication with our event promoters, health officials, and the city administrations in our respective race markets regarding COVID-19, we have made the decision to cancel all NTT INDYCAR Series events through April. This begins with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg which was to begin today and run through Sunday, March 15 and continues through the AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas which was to take place April 24-26.  Although we are disappointed to delay the start to this INDYCAR season and will miss our incredible fans who support us each year in St. Petersburg, Birmingham, Long Beach, and Austin, the safety of our fans, participants, staff, partners, and media will always remain our top priority.  We will continue to coordinate with public health experts and government officials as we determine the appropriate plans for resuming our schedule.”

INDYCAR announces condensed schedule for St. Petersburg season opener

INDIANAPOLIS (March 12, 2020) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which will be closed to spectators and limited to essential personnel only, will have several modifications with a condensed two-day schedule of activities.

The revised schedule will eliminate Friday’s on-track action, which consisted of two 45-minute practice sessions, and open Saturday for two practice sessions and NTT P1 Award qualifying.

The following is Saturday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule:

  • Garage opens, 7 a.m.
  • Practice #1, 9:45-10:30 a.m. ET (moved from original time of 10:45 a.m. Friday)
  • Practice #2, 1:30-2:30 p.m. (moved from 3 p.m. Friday)
  • NTT P1 Award qualifying, featuring three rounds of knockout qualifications, 4:45 p.m. (previously scheduled earlier at 2:40 p.m.)

Live coverage of all practice and qualifying sessions will be on NBC Sports Gold. Qualifying also will be aired tape delayed at 10 p.m. on NBCSN.

Sunday’s schedule remains unchanged:

  • Garage opens, 7:30 a.m.
  • Warm-Up, 10:25-10:55 a.m. (NBC Gold)
  • Driver Intros, 2:53 p.m.
  • Command, 3:23 p.m.
  • Green flag, 3:30 p.m.

The live coverage on NBCSN begins at 2:30 p.m. with the pre-race show, followed by the green flag for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (100 laps/180 miles) on NBCSN (live).

“INDYCAR loves to present great sport and competition and there is no place we enjoy more than St. Petersburg to open our season,” INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles said. “However, the priority had to be the health and safety of our fans, drivers, teams, officials and workers. We worked through all the possible options with St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, his administration and race promoter Green Savoree and we came to the best possible conclusion given all the circumstances, in particular when our teams indicated they still wanted to race.

“We are aware of the number of fans that gathered in St. Petersburg for the race weekend, but we are hopeful they trust and understand that the move was made with their health and welfare in mind as the sports world looks to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic from a global perspective.”

To further protect the health and welfare of those taking part in the weekend activities, INDYCAR is setting up a screening area at the venue entry point to gain access.

Due to the fluidity of the situation, more modifications may be forthcoming and will be announced at the appropriate time.

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