Race Day 1 at Road America

Good morning from the remote Road America media center, located five miles from the track in Plymouth. Talk about distancing.

The NTT Indycar Series begins a four races in nine days stretch toiday with the first of two races at Road America. The REV Group Grand Prix begins at 5:15 Eastern time. NBCSN begins their broadcast at 5 pm Eastern.

Today’s schedule: (All Times Eastern)

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Indycar will use the double header qualifying format that is used at Detroit. Practice divides the field into two groups. Each group gets 12 minutes on track. The fastest driver in each group gets a point. The faster of the group leaders is on the pole. On Sunday the order of the groups is reversed.

The 55 laps will require three pit stops. This race will be difficult to run with just two. There have not been any caution laps the last two years.

Spotter’s Guides for today and tomorrow:

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Back later with practice results.

Qualifying Groups for GMR Grand Prix

Photo- Indycar, Jonathan Ferrey (Getty Images)

Qualifying groups for this afternoon’s knockout rounds and Fast Six:

Qualifying Groups (unofficial)

GROUP 1 GROUP 2
Santino Ferrucci Will Power
Pato O’Ward Marcus Ericsson
Ryan Hunter-Reay Scott Dixon
Felix Rosenqvist Simon Pagenaud
Oliver Askew Spencer Pigot
Josef Newgarden Colton Herta
Marco Andretti Jack Harvey
Takuma Sato Alexander Rossi
Max Chilton Rinus VeeKay
Conor Daly Graham Rahal
Álex Palou Zach Veach
James Hinchcliffe Charlie Kimball
Sage Karam Dalton Kellett

Qualifying can be seen on NBCSN at 4:30 Eastern. The race is at noon tomnorrow on NBC.

Television Times and Channels for July NTT Indycar Series Races

As the Indycar series ramps up for its first set of races- Five races in 15 days, NBC Sports now has set coverage times and channels. There will be no fans at the GMR Grand Prix. Road America and Iowa will have fans in attendance.

Iowa will put 6,00 tickets on sale this coming Friday at 10 am ET. I kindly request that you wait until I have purchased mine before you get online. Thanks in advance.

The schedule:

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All Texas in A Day

Greetings from Texas Motor Speedway. Just kidding. Of course I’m in Indianapolis as we prepare for the first Indycar race of the season. Coverage of all sessions for the Genesys 300 can be viewed on various NBC channels beginning at 1 pm Eastern. Today’s schedule and broadcast platforms:

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After the race, NBCSN will present a 30 minute post race show. The first 30 minutes of practice is dedicated to rookies and veterans who have not raced at Texas previously. Approximately four hours will be on television.

Look for coverage here at The Pit Window after each session.

Texas is a Go; Shortened Race, No Fans

News release from Indycar. I will have some thoughts later.

For Immediate Release
NTT INDYCAR SERIES season kicks off June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway

NTT INDYCAR SERIES season kicks off June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS (May 7, 2020) – The 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season will begin Saturday, June 6 with the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. INDYCAR’s stars will take the green flag at 8:45 p.m. (ET), with broadcast coverage provided by NBC Sports via NBCSN.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, INDYCAR will run a condensed schedule with practice, qualifying and the race taking place on the same day. The event also will be conducted without fans in attendance. This will be the 24th consecutive year in which INDYCAR has raced at the 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth, Texas.

“We’re excited and ready to kick off the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season at Texas Motor Speedway,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “We’ve worked closely with Eddie Gossage, the entire TMS team and public health officials on a plan of action that will ensure the safety of our event participants alongside an exciting return to competition for our drivers, teams and viewers tuning in from around the world.”

“America needs live sports and they are not going to believe what they see when the Genesys 300 storms into their living rooms on TV from Texas,” said Eddie Gossage, president and general manager of Texas Motor Speedway. “One of the world’s greatest sporting events, the Indy 500, has been postponed until August by coronavirus, so all of that pent-up energy, anticipation, frustrations and anxiety will be pounding through the drivers’ nervous systems. Typically, the Genesys 300 results in a 220-mph photo finish.”

Other steps to protect the well-being of participants have been identified through close consultation with TMS and public health officials. These include:

• Strict access guidelines limiting the number of personnel on site

• A health screening system administered to all participants

• PPE equipment provided to everyone entering the facility, along with guidelines on usage

• Social distancing protocols in place and carefully maintained

• Revised competition layout to increase distancing

To accommodate the one-day schedule, the length for the race at Texas Motor Speedway has been adjusted to 200 laps rather than the previously announced 248 laps. The full on-track schedule for the Genesys 300:

NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice: 1:30-3:30 p.m. (ET)

NTT INDYCAR SERIES Qualifications: 5 p.m. (ET)

Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway: 8:45 p.m. (ET)

The remainder of the updated, 15-race INDYCAR calendar for 2020, announced April 6, remains on schedule for competition.

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 2020 season, which runs from June to October, currently consists of 15 races in the United States and Canada and is highlighted by the historic Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge in August at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the 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.

For Immediate Release
NTT INDYCAR SERIES season kicks off June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway

NTT INDYCAR SERIES season kicks off June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS (May 7, 2020) – The 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season will begin Saturday, June 6 with the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. INDYCAR’s stars will take the green flag at 8:45 p.m. (ET), with broadcast coverage provided by NBC Sports via NBCSN.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, INDYCAR will run a condensed schedule with practice, qualifying and the race taking place on the same day. The event also will be conducted without fans in attendance. This will be the 24th consecutive year in which INDYCAR has raced at the 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth, Texas.

“We’re excited and ready to kick off the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season at Texas Motor Speedway,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “We’ve worked closely with Eddie Gossage, the entire TMS team and public health officials on a plan of action that will ensure the safety of our event participants alongside an exciting return to competition for our drivers, teams and viewers tuning in from around the world.”

“America needs live sports and they are not going to believe what they see when the Genesys 300 storms into their living rooms on TV from Texas,” said Eddie Gossage, president and general manager of Texas Motor Speedway. “One of the world’s greatest sporting events, the Indy 500, has been postponed until August by coronavirus, so all of that pent-up energy, anticipation, frustrations and anxiety will be pounding through the drivers’ nervous systems. Typically, the Genesys 300 results in a 220-mph photo finish.”

Other steps to protect the well-being of participants have been identified through close consultation with TMS and public health officials. These include:

• Strict access guidelines limiting the number of personnel on site

• A health screening system administered to all participants

• PPE equipment provided to everyone entering the facility, along with guidelines on usage

• Social distancing protocols in place and carefully maintained

• Revised competition layout to increase distancing

To accommodate the one-day schedule, the length for the race at Texas Motor Speedway has been adjusted to 200 laps rather than the previously announced 248 laps. The full on-track schedule for the Genesys 300:

NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice: 1:30-3:30 p.m. (ET)

NTT INDYCAR SERIES Qualifications: 5 p.m. (ET)

Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway: 8:45 p.m. (ET)

The remainder of the updated, 15-race INDYCAR calendar for 2020, announced April 6, remains on schedule for competition.

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 2020 season, which runs from June to October, currently consists of 15 races in the United States and Canada and is highlighted by the historic Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge in August at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the 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.

AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge Fast Facts

From Indycar

When: 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday, April 25

Track: Circuit of the Americas, a 20-turn, 3.41-mile natural road course in Austin, Texas. Turn width: Varies from 39 to 52 feet. Course direction: Counterclockwise.

Race distance: 32 laps/109.1 miles/175.6 km (approximately 70 minutes)

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

Expected pit stops: One. Fuel window will be approximately 15-16 laps. Cars will be allowed two “Fast Repairs” during the race.

Competition caution: A planned competition caution period will bunch the field on Lap 12. It will consist of three laps, followed by a single-file restart.

Twitter: @IndyCar, @iRacing, @COTA, #INDYCARChallenge, #INDYCAR

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 , and pit reporter Marty Snider. The pre-race activities will be highlighted by singer-songwriter Cory Morrow and his wife, Sherry Morrow, singing the national anthem and Texas-born country music artist Jack Ingram 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:

• The AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge, Round 5 of 6 in the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, is the third road race in the virtual series. The first two rounds took place on natural-terrain road courses, at Watkins Glen International and Barber Motorsports Park. The final venue is a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track for the race Saturday, May 2.

Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) won Round 4 of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge on Saturday, April 18, the Firestone 175 at Twin Ring Motegi. He beat Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) by .3429 of a second in the closest finish so far in the series. Pagenaud has won both oval races so far, also taking the checkered flag April 11 at Michigan International Speedway.

• Three newcomers to the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge will be in the 33-car field Saturday. Englishman Lando Norris will drive the No. 04 Arrow McLaren SP Dallara. Norris finished 11th in the Formula One World Championship standings last season for McLaren and is returning for a second season with the iconic F1 team. Australian Chaz Mostert will drive the No. 98 U.S. Concrete/Curb Dallara for Andretti Herta with Marco Andretti & Curb-Agajanian. 2014 Bathurst 1000 winner Mostert has 13 career victories in Virgin Australia Supercars and drives in that series for Walkinshaw Andretti United. 2015 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion Spencer Pigot will drive the No. 45 Mi-Jack/EMBRACE Pittsburgh RLL with Citrone/Buhl Autosport Honda.

• Team Penske continues to flex its muscles in the virtual world, much like it does in the actual NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Penske is the only team to score a podium finish in each of the first three races. Will Power placed third in Round 1 at Watkins Glen, Scott McLaughlin won Round 2 at Barber with Power placing second, Simon Pagenaud won Round 3 at Michigan with McLaughlin second, and Pagenaud won Round 4 at Motegi with Power third.

Sage Karam (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing) has dominated the two previous road races in the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge. Veteran sim racer Karam won the opening round of the series March 28 at Watkins Glen in the No. 24 DRR WIX Filters Chevrolet and has led 67 of the 90 laps so far on road courses.

• Two competitors in the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge will race at virtual Circuit of the Americas (COTA) during the pre-sunrise hours of the morning in Australia, two-time and reigning Virgin Australia Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin (Team Penske) and Virgin Australia Supercars race winner Chaz Mostert (Andretti Herta with Marco Andretti & Curb-Agajanian).

• One NTT INDYCAR SERIES race has been conducted at COTA, on March 24, 2019. Colton Herta made history by becoming the youngest-ever INDYCAR race winner, at age 18. Herta, now 20, will race Saturday for Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport. Will Power (Team Penske) won the pole last year at COTA.

• NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie Oliver Askew (Arrow McLaren SP) swept both Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires races last March at COTA.

• Formula One standout Lando Norris and Australian V8 Supercars race winner Chaz Mostert (Andretti Herta with Marco Andretti & Curb-Agajanian) may be new to the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, but they have real race experience at COTA. Norris finished seventh for McLaren last November in the United States Grand Prix Formula One race. Mostert raced in all four rounds of the Virgin Australia Supercars series May 18-19, 2013 at COTA, with a best finish of 13th. Scott McLaughlin (Team Penske) also raced in the four Supercars rounds that year at COTA, with a best finish of seventh. The Supercars competed on a 2.3-mile version of the COTA circuit. INDYCAR and F1 both race on the full 3.41-mile circuit.

AUTONATION INDYCAR CHALLENGE PRE-EVENT QUOTES:

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet): “COTA is a tough track, with lots of hard braking zones, and with my limited skills on iRacing, I am struggling pretty good. I will do my best for the #4 AJ Foyt Racing Tresiba/Chevy crew and keep turning laps to up my game.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 50 Direct Supply Chevrolet): “I am excited and nervous for this week. I have never actually driven anything at COTA before, so it makes it even more of a challenge getting up to speed. I will put in the time to be ready. It is very easy to make mistakes here compared to Barber, so I think it could be a little bit of an unpredictable race.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “I love racing at COTA, so I’m very excited to see what we can do with the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet in the iRacing world. COTA is one of those tracks that really suits me, and I feel like I have a good handle on the track, so hopefully we can bring home a good result for the Carlin team this weekend. We just need to qualify well, stay out of trouble and work our way to the front.”

CONOR DALY (No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet): “I think COTA will be quite the challenge with my current simulator setup, probably the most challenging race so far. This one will be mostly about survival, but we’ll still try to have a lot of fun. But realistically, I just want to get back to sim oval racing! We’ll go out and turn the laps this weekend and do the best we can with my simulator experience and extremely high-tech setup.”

MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “Looking forward to go iRacing again. COTA is a track I know pretty well from being there a few times, both in Formula One and INDYCAR. It’s a track I really like, as well, and I’ve had some good success there over the years. I have always enjoyed it in real life, so it’ll be fun to try it in the virtual world, as well. Also, after three races and the last two being on ovals for the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, it’s going to be interesting to see how it is going back to a road course, how everyone gets on. Everyone is getting more used to iRacing, including myself. I’m learning all the time, but I feel like it’s getting better and better. I want to build on that performance in Motegi. I’m looking forward to a good race in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda car.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “I am looking forward to competing in Round 5 of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge at COTA. We were quick there last year in the race, so I am excited to see what we can do virtually. The SealMaster Honda is doing well in the championship, and I am ready to go racing this Saturday and earned some more championship points.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 Big Machine Records Chevrolet): “We will be in Texas, so the boss (A.J. Foyt) will be watching (laughs). Not really. One more round. I’m excited to be back there. I was actually there this year spectating when we had the spring training, so it will be nice to drive around the track. Let’s see what happens if we get a little better luck this time.”

SAGE KARAM (No. 24 DRR WIX Filters Chevrolet): “I am ready to get back on the road circuits again. Obviously, we were strong in the first two races at Watkins Glen and Barber. We didn’t have much luck at Barber after leading a bunch of laps, but I think we’ll have a strong effort at COTA. It’s a great road course and should be another exciting race for the fans. We were fast at Michigan, but we got caught up in some traffic. I made a mistake in qualifying at Motegi, and I had to start 31st. But the car improved in the race and we moved up 24 spots to seventh. We also had the fastest race lap. Now, we need to get back to racing up front at COTA. My iRacing experience goes back to 2007 when I went from karting to open-wheelers. Because I have not been a regular on the INDYCAR circuit in recent years, I’m able to stay active through sim racing, and I believe it has helped me. I think some of the current INDYCAR drivers can see improvement, too, in the INDYCAR Challenge racing as we all stay inside due to the coronavirus. I’m like everyone else who wants to go real racing as soon as we can. But this is the next best thing.”

DALTON KELLETT (No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet): “When we were at COTA for spring training, we had rain and freezing temperatures. Thankfully, we can set the weather in iRacing, and the conditions look great! It is a challenging track, almost more so without being able to feel the car under you. The combination of high and low speed sections is a great mix. With the long straights and a few hard brake zones, there are good passing opportunities. It should be an exciting race. This weekend would have been my INDYCAR debut, so it is somewhat bittersweet, but I am thankful that my family and friends are all healthy and safe in these trying times. Looking forward to another fast and consistent run in the #41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet.”

SCOTT McLAUGHLIN (No. 2 Shell V-PowerTeam Penske Dallara): “I’m really looking forward to going back to COTA. It was great to be part of the preseason test with the rest of the series. I learned a lot there running alongside other drivers in the series since this was the first time I was in a car with the rest of them. I’ve been having a lot of fun competing in iRacing in INDYCAR and SuperCars. It’s all experience and it’s all seat time, even if it’s virtual. The Shell V-Power car looks to be strong this weekend since my team has put a lot of work into our plan.”

FELIPE NASR (No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet): “I’m really looking forward to racing at COTA this weekend in the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet for the fifth round of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge. Last week’s race at Motegi was really disappointing. We had a strong start, and we were moving up the field, but there were some connectivity issues and I was forced to retire early from the race. We haven’t had the best of luck in this iRacing series, but I’m really hoping that’ll turn around this weekend at COTA. I had a great test with Carlin at COTA at the INDYCAR Open Test in February, so hopefully some of that speed will show up this weekend.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet): “I really enjoy racing in COTA, so I’m looking forward to racing the virtual one. iRacing has been a huge adjustment for me, but I have learned so much with the PPG Chevy team, and we’re all excited to apply our learnings to real life racing whenever we can go back. COTA can be a challenging track, but we tried some things out at the preseason test that we think will work great for this virtual version of the race. Just ready to go out and give it our all with hopes to just keep improving.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Snap-on Team Penske Chevrolet): “iRacing has really been fun for the past few weeks, and I’m looking forward to racing at COTA. Winning two consecutive races gave us a boost of confidence. One of the last times the whole INDYCAR SERIES was all on track was during our spring training at the real-life track. We learned a lot at that test that I have been applying to iRacing events. It’s a really great track that has great challenges and quite technical sections. We as a series are getting stronger and stronger, not just as drivers in iRacing events, and there’s a lot of carryover we can eventually apply to races in real life. I am thankful for NBCSN for showing our race and am excited to have Snap-on’s livery on my Chevrolet this weekend. We’ve had a lot of success the past couple of weeks, so we’re going to be looking to keep having a similar approach.”

ALEX PALOU (No. 55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda): “I’m really looking forward to the COTA iRacing event this weekend because it’s the only track that I’ve actually been to in an Indy car before. Maybe that will help, even if it’s a virtual race. It’s also a road course, which is the type of track I have more experience racing at, not like ovals that I messed up on last weekend. We’ll see how the practices go, but I think we can be in the top five like at the other road courses that we’ve done in the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, and hopefully we can have our first podium this weekend.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 45 Mi-Jack/EMBRACE Pittsburgh RLL with Citrone/Buhl Autosport Honda): “I’m really looking forward to joining everyone for the last few races of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge. I’ve been watching all the races on NBCSN, and it looks like a lot of fun. I haven’t been on iRacing for quite a few years, so I will definitely have some catching up to do. With the GMR Grand Prix being postponed until July, this will be a welcomed change to help pass the time. It will give me a chance to start working with a few members of Citrone/Buhl Autosport and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and get back into the groove of a race event. I can’t wait to race again, and this is the perfect way to start that process.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’ve been having a blast with iRacing. It’s something I have enjoyed for a long time, so it’s been great to keep racing against the rest of the drivers in the INDYCAR SERIES. COTA can be a really challenging track, but I love the challenge. It’s been great to have the whole Verizon Chevy team behind me week after week in the virtual world. We think it will make us stronger as a team when we can go back to racing in real life. I’m just looking forward to being part of another great show for the fans.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 One Cure Honda): “We are all missing being at the actual race at Circuit of the Americas, but at least we can race there virtually. It’s going to be an interesting race and a full field with 33 cars. It will be key to stay out of trouble.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It’s going to be interesting to get back to a road course again after quite a few ovals. It’ll be interesting to see who is going to be quick this week. A lot of people have been spending time on the sim the last couple of weeks. So, probably and hopefully it’ll be a lot tighter than when this whole thing started. It’s good to be back at COTA this weekend. Hopefully we can bring the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda car up to the front.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Panasonic/ABeam Honda): “It’s been a great experience so far. There is a lot to learn, and I enjoy driving and racing online. It’s pretty much what I expected, as we all have experience on our manufacturer’s simulators. However, doing it at home and the sim rig you have at home does not have motion, so you feel only steering feedback and through the monitor it is incredibly hard to “feel” what’s happening in the car. It’s fun when you just drive, but racing seriously with competitive sim-experienced drivers online is a very tough one! Fans love it. Obviously, they are looking forward to seeing the real racing, but in the situation now, this is best thing for them to have excitement for what usually feels like a great INDYCAR season. Also, particularly for my home country, the race in Twin Ring Motegi was a great moment. We never expected to be back there this way, but fans really enjoyed watching INDYCAR back at Motegi. I think iRacing is going to be very tough on a road course. COTA has a lot of high curbing to prevent cutting corners short that you just simply cannot touch because the car bounces too much and you lose control. And the track limit is very strict on iRacing, so it’s easy to get a penalty. But that is the same for everyone, so I expect it will make for an exciting race.” (About teamwork involved in iRacing): “I believe it is a benefit to work with the team on this and also provide it for the fans. We are all connected with engineers and going through a lot of things as similar as real world, so it’s definitely a good way to keep our communications and relationship well for preparation for the race.”

RINUS VEEKAY (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “I’m very excited to drive COTA virtually. It’s a cool track with a lot of passing possibilities, so we should be able to put on a show for the fans.”

Castroneves, Sato, Kyle Busch Join Motegi Field

Helio Castroneves, Takuma Sato, and Kyle Busch join the field for Indycar’s iRace at Twin Ring Motegi this Saturday.  The 33 car field also will have Indycar rookie Rinus VeeKay in car 21. Ed Carpenter will be in car 50 as Ed Carpenter Racing enters three cars.

The entry list:

Missing from this week’s field MMMMMJ

James Daiwp-15870471717434376827618745530014.png

James Davidson and Dale Earhardt, Jr. will not participate this week.

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IndyCar Series
Firestone 175, 2:30 p.m. (ET), Saturday, April 18, NBCSN

Castroneves, Sato, Busch join INDYCAR iRacing Challenge for Round 4 at Twin Ring Motegi oval

Field grows to series-high 33 drivers for Firestone 175 Saturday on NBCSN

 

INDIANAPOLIS (April 16, 2020) – As the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge leaves the United States for the first time Saturday, April 18, three fan favorites of American motorsports who are new to the virtual racing series are coming along for the ride.

 

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, 2017 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Takuma Sato and two-time reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch will make their respective series debuts in the Firestone 175 on the 1.549-mile oval at Twin Ring Motegi in Motegi, Japan.

 

The fourth of six rounds in the series featuring NTT INDYCAR SERIES stars and special guest drivers will be the second straight event on an oval, with a series-high field of 33 drivers ready to race for 113 laps on the tricky, asymmetrical oval that hosted INDYCAR races from 1998-2011. The race starts at 2:30 p.m. ET, with live coverage on NBCSN.

 

Click here: Entry List

 

Castroneves joins the series in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet with a certain distinction besides having his face on the Borg-Warner Trophy three times, more than any other driver in the field. He is one of three drivers in the Firestone 175 who has won at Twin Ring Motegi in NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition, capturing victories there in 2006 and 2010 for Team Penske.

 

Other Motegi race winners competing Saturday are Scott Dixon in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda (2009 and 2011 Motegi winner) and Tony Kanaan in the No. 14 7-Eleven Chevrolet (2007 Motegi winner).

 

2017 “500” winner Sato will make his INDYCAR iRacing Challenge debut in the No. 30 Panasonic/Keihin Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. While this is Sato’s first race in this series, he knows Twin Ring Motegi well. Japanese native Sato has two career NTT INDYCAR SERIES starts at the track, in 2010 and 2011, and he also has visited the actual circuit for the annual Honda Thanks Day every year since his 2017 Indy victory.

 

The addition of Castroneves and Sato increases the number of Indianapolis 500 winners in the Firestone 175 field to eight, along with Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Alexander Rossi.

 

Two-time Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard winner Busch is the latest NASCAR star to join the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge. He will drive the No. 51 Rowdy Energy Dallara as the lone NASCAR representative at Motegi in his INDYCAR debut, virtual or real.

 

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson raced in the first two rounds, on March 28 at Watkins Glen International and April 4 at Barber Motorsports Park. Two-time Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third April 11 in the first oval race of the series, at Michigan International Speedway.

 

NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie Rinus VeeKay is the fourth newcomer to the series in the Motegi field. He will drive the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet fielded by Ed Carpenter Racing.

 

All newcomers – and most of the rest of the field – will have their eyes on the Team Penske trio of Scott McLaughlin, Power and Pagenaud.

 

Two-time and reigning Virgin Australia Supercars champion McLaughlin, from New Zealand, has the best overall record in the series in the No. 2 Shell V-Power Team Penske Dallara, finishing fourth at Watkins Glen, winning at Barber and placing second at Michigan. Veteran sim racer McLaughlin has produced this impressive record despite competing in series races during the middle of the night in Australia, where he lives.

 

2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion and 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner Power is just behind McLaughlin in terms of strike rate. Another experienced sim racer, he has finished third at Watkins Glen, second at Barber and fourth at Michigan in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and is aiming to become the third Penske driver to win in this series.

 

2016 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion and reigning Indy 500 winner Pagenaud was the latest Team Penske driver to take the checkered flag, using patience and deft fuel strategy to win last Saturday, April 11 at Michigan in the No. 22 DXC Team Penske Chevrolet. The victory marked the pinnacle of a climb of steady improvement for the Frenchman, as he finished sixth at Watkins Glen and fifth at Barber.

 

While recent results may not indicate it, INDYCAR and Indianapolis 500 veteran Sage Karam must be considered another favorite for victory at Motegi.

 

Vastly experienced and successful iRacing competitor Karam is the only driver to lead laps in all three races of this virtual series, also winning the opener at Watkins Glen in the No. 24 DRR WIX Filters Chevrolet. He also has led the most laps in all three races, pacing a dominant 116 of the 175 combined laps so far (66 percent).

 

Karam finished 27th at Barber after a collision while dueling with position with Felix Rosenqvist’s No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda midway through the race, and he ended up 14th at Michigan due to a spin in traffic while climbing back toward the front after an early pit stop.

 

Threading the needle in traffic will be a primary concern for all contenders, as thickets of cars should form in the big field on an oval approximately a half-mile shorter than last week’s thrilling race at Michigan. The fuel window is expected to be approximately 40 laps, creating a two-stop race that will add plenty of strategic options.

 

The starting lineup will be set through a 10-minute qualifying session prior to the event.

Two races remain in the six-round series after Saturday, the Circuit of the Americas on April 25 and a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track May 2. he 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 Homage to Past Races at Michigan

Some random thoughts on today’s iRace

Today’s iRace at Michigan International Speedway had many elements of the actual Indycar races that were staged there through 2007. The first lap accident was reminiscent of the start of the U. S. 500 in 1996. The eight lead swaps between Sage Karam and Will Power made it looks as if the cars had the Handford Device added to them. In the end, the race came down to fuel strategy.

Of the nine podium spots in the three races so far, five of them have gone to series non-regulars who have never started a real Indycar race.

This was Will Power’s worst finish in the three races. He would be having a championship type start to his season if these races counted.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s third place was a bit of a shock. he had never raced an Indycar in sim racing before.

Simon Pagenaud’s win from his 22nd starting spot was the mirror image of his win in the Indianapolis 500 last May. He was in full attack mode then. Today he played the waiting game.

Another realistic element today was the Team Penske 1-2 finish. Power gave the team three of the top four spots. Penske cars have won two of the three races to date. Sim imitates life.

The site of next week’s race is yet to be determined.

The box score:

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NBCSN Race Week Features Some Recent Indycar Classics

The iRacing has been fun. We can’t have actual new races this year yet, although I’m hopeful we can get in a few of them this summer and fall. Staring tomorrow, though, we can relive some of the best moments of the last few years in Indycar on NBCSN.

Seven Indycar races, including two Indianapolis 500s, will be part of the 60hours of racing shown on the current home of Indycar on television.

The schedule (all times Eastern)

Monday  3 pm   2015 Fontana

Tuesday  3 pm 2017 Long Beach

Thursday    1 pm 2019 Indycar Grand Prix

8 pm 2019 Indianapolis 500

11 pm  Drive Like Andretti

2 am 2016 Indianapolis 500

Saturday  10 pm 2015 Sonoma

Sunday      12:30 am  2016 Texas

I’m excited to relive some of these great moments of the last five years of Indycar. I would have preferred some much  older races. For times like this we need Speed to return.

I’ll be back tomorrow with updated thoughts on the current Indycar season.