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Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin wins INDYCAR iRacing Challenge From virtual Barber Motorsports Park

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Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin is the winner of Round two of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge from virtual Barber Motorsports Park.

McLaughlin, a two-time Champion for DJR Penske in the Australian Supercar Series, used a two-stop strategy and held off his teammate Will Power to take home the victory.

“The feeling is pretty full on,” said McLaughlin.  “You’re pretty excited.  It’s just cool to be out there and learning I guess some of the craft and stuff like that.  Absolutely it’s probably going to be a little bit different in real life.  But to learn and get to know what’s going on in the INDYCAR world is really cool for me.”

“That first stint, you kind of just sat there and saved your tires knowing there was going to be a yellow,” said Power.  “Then our plan was to really close on Sage and jump in on a sequence by pitting early.  When we pitted early, we pitted into a lot of traffic, lost like seconds in that sequence.  Fortunately Sage must have made a mistake. Felix obviously did a really good job in that sequence.  I think he went to the lead.  Then he made a mistake.  That put me I guess as the leader on that strategy.  I wasn’t aware that Scott was on that strategy.”

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Sage Karam, last week’s winner from virtual Watkins Glen International, started on the pole position and led the first 15-laps green flag laps, that’s when iRacing officials threw a competition caution and bunched up the field.

McLaughlin went to pit road one lap before that competition caution to take on tires and fuel.  A number of the other competitors, including Karam and second place Felix Rosenqvist of NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing, elected to stay out and pit later in the race.

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Karam and Rosenqvist elected to pit under green flag conditions with Karam coming in first on lap 25 and Rosenqvist coming in a lap later.  Rosenqvist came out slightly ahead of Karam who had the momentum but ran out of race track, dipping his right side tires onto the grass.

Rosenqvist, trying to stay ahead of Karam, carried too much speed into the next turn and lost control as Karam was trying to recover from his trip into the grass and both drivers spun out.

Andretti Autosport’s Scott Speed, who pitted during the competition caution period, inherited the lead but was in fuel saving mode down the stretch.

“I was working with my engineer from when I was with Andretti in the past, Graham, and we decided to try to pit before the yellow, hope that I can save a lot of fuel,” said Speed.  “Somehow I was able to do it.”

McLaughlin and Power however were not in fuel saving mode and were able to get by Speed to fight it out for the win with the former F1 driving bringing home in third place.

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.

INDYCAR iRacing Barber Final

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The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast – Episode 010 – Graham Rahal & Charlie Langenstein

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – This week’s episode of The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast features Graham Rahal, driver of the No. 15 United Rentals, Total, Fifth Third Bank Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES circuit and Charlie Langenstein, the Mechanical Director for the Star Com Racing Chevrolet driven by Quin Houff on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit plus some local dirt track news.

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Citrone/Buhl Autosport To Make Virtual Debut This Weekend

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Citrone/Buhl Autosport

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) The new NTT INDYCAR SERIES team formed by Rob Citrone, Nick Citrone, Robbie Buhl and Tom Buhl is making their virtual debut this weekend in Saturday’s INDYCAR iRacing Challenge Series from virtual Circuit of the Americas.

Spencer Pigot will be behind the virtual wheel of the No. 45 Mi-Jack/EMBRACE Pittsburgh RLL with Citrone/Buhl Autosport entry.  Pigot will pilot the real car in this year’s GMR Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500 when the INDYCAR season resumes.

Rob Citrone is the founder of Discovery Capital Management and the largest minority owner of the Steelers.  Nick is a data analytics coordinator for the Penguins.  Robbie Buhl is a retired INDYCAR driver who with his brother Tom own Buhl Sport Detroit, a motorsports marketing company that operates a rallycross team, Racing4Detroit, and an advanced driver training program called Teen Street Skills.

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The virtual No. 45 Mi-Jack/EMBRACE Pittsburgh RLL with Citrone/Buhl Autosport Honda leaving pit road at virtual Circuit of the Americas.

The virtual livery features EMBRACE Pittsburgh, one of the Citrone family’s incredible philanthropic organizations. EMBRACE Pittsburgh is a powerful movement conceived and driven by Citrone 33. The goal is to champion mental strength throughout the Pittsburgh region. EMBRACE provides in-person and online educational and experiential opportunities for Pittsburghers to learn and practice self-care while engaging with their communities.

The AutoNation INDYCAR iRacing Challenge from virtual Circuit of The Americas will be televised live on NBCSN on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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Simon Pagenaud Take INDYCAR iRacing Win At Twin Ring Motegi

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Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud made it two-in-a-row after winning Saturday’s Firestone 175 INDYCAR iRacing Challenge from virtual Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.

Pagenaud outlasted a voracious charge from PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Scott Dixon, who tried to get underneath Pagenaud on the last lap in turns 1 and 2, but the No. 22 DXC Technologies Chevrolet squeezed the No. 9 Honda causing Dixon’s car to get loose, that enabled the 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner to take advantage of the run off the high side of the track and pull out to a .3429-second win ahead of the Five-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion.

“Today was a lot about tire saving, the right strategy once again,” said Pagenaud. “At the end it got a bit crazy. Yeah, what’s fun to me, it’s actually that you’re racing the exact same guys as usual, exact same moves as you would in real life. You keep turning your wheels in your head.

“Everybody’s racing hard,” said Dixon.  “I thought it was awesome. It was a great show, a lot of fun. I think it was exciting. Simon did a hell of a job. That’s what it takes at the end to win, is you got to take risks. Kudos to them. It was fun to be a part of it and fun to watch.”

Pagenaud’s teammate Will Power finished third in the No. 12 Verizon Chevy despite contact with Arrow SP’s Oliver Askew, who came out of the pits trying to stay on the lead lap.  The contact sent Power into the side pod of the No. 2 Shell Chevy of teammate Scott McLaughlin, who crashed into the SAFER barrier.

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“That’s what lost us the race, basically,” said Power.  “We couldn’t battle for the win anymore. Yeah, missing half a front wing, I was pushing a lot, obviously. I was happy to hang on for third. That showed how much of a gap we’d pulled on the whole field that I could just nurse it home and have another third place. Real consistent for me week in and week out.”

Marcus Ericsson placed fourth in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Pole sitter Robert Wickens rallied from early contact to finish fifth in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch finished 13th in the No. 51 Rowdy Energy Dallara in his series debut. Another series debutant, 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato, finished 12th in the No. 30 Panasonic/Keihin Honda.

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves placed 29th in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet in his series debut, three laps down, after suffering damage in an early crash.

Two more races remain in the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, at Circuit of the Americas on Saturday, April 25 and at a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track Saturday, May 2.

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