PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Dale Earnhardt Jr. is looking forward to mixing it up with this Saturday’s INDYCAR iRacing Challenge Series field at virtual Michigan International Speedway.
Earnhardt Jr. is one of five drivers who are participating in the series for the first time. Joining Earnhardt Jr and the rest of the INDYCAR field for the event are Marco Andretti (Andretti Herta with Marco Andretti & Curb-Agajanian), Max Chilton (Carlin Racing), James Davison (INDYCAR Provisional) and 2012 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport).
“I had such a great time when I went to the Indy 500 last year, and I have so much respect for the guys that are in the field and the guys that we’ll be practicing with and racing with this weekend,” said Earnhardt Jr. “I’ve got a few friends in the series but certainly want to know the other guys and get to know the rest of them really well, so this is such a great opportunity for me to do that. I think the fans are really going to appreciate getting the opportunity to see them on the racetrack, on the virtual racetrack throughout this break, to get to know them even more. I love it.”.
Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin won Round 2 of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge on Saturday, April 4, the Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst at Barber Motorsports Park. He edged Team Penske teammate Will Power by .4241 of a second.
“I’m really excited to be running the No. 2 Snap-on Tools car in this weekend’s INDYCAR iRacing Challenge race in Michigan and am proud to be representing this iconic brand on the racetrack,” said McLaughlin. “And I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to get my first crack at an oval in an Indy car – and to get to race against Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. at the same time”.
Sage Karam of 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 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist to the checkered flag by 3.6174 seconds.
“Looking forward to Week 3 of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge,” said Rosenqvist. “I haven’t practiced that much yet, but I’ve had a look at the track. I think it’s always going to be very different when a lot of people run, especially because it’s an oval this time. Ovals probably require more respect from the drivers to not have any crashes.”
Crashes are exactly what Rosenqvist’s teammate Marcus Ericsson, driver of the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda, told The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast he wants to avoid.
“I’ve been taken out in Lap 1 in the first two races without anything I could do differently, so that has been a bit frustrating,” said Ericsson. “It’s very exciting to go on an oval for the first time in the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge. I’m hoping the fans will love it and that we’ll have a great show. I’m also hoping to bring the Chip Ganassi Huski Chocolate No. 8 car up to the front!”.
The pre-race activities will be highlighted by NBC’s “The Voice” contestant Beth Griffith-Manley singing the national anthem and NBC Sports host Mike Tirico giving the command to start engines.
The race will start at 2:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast – Episode 010 – Graham Rahal & Charlie Langenstein
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.
Citrone/Buhl Autosport To Make Virtual Debut This Weekend
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.
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.
Simon Pagenaud Take INDYCAR iRacing Win At Twin Ring Motegi
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.
“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.