A recap of the final IndyCar iRacing Challenge run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway…

May 2, 2020

By Patrick Stephan (@TSO_Patrick)

Good afternoon (or morning for our friends on the west coast) and welcome to today’s iRacing INDYCAR Challenge First Responder 175 presented by GMRfrom a packed virtual Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I’ve got to be honest while I’m excited to watch today’s race, I’m also a little apprehensive. From those that have watched some of the practice sessions, we’re hearing of a lot of crashes and that the drivers are getting more and more annoyed with each other.

Hopefully though we get a clean race. Fuel window is 30-35 laps for this 70 lap sprint at IMS.

Nice job on the National Anthem by 4 members of the Indianapolis Fire Department – standing 6 feet apart and staggered – nice social distancing with some great singing.

So far the pre-race has been a really good commercial for the Indy 500 – hopefully we get to have the real thing this August.

Command to start engines was given by NY City AMR and NYFD First Responders – pretty cool.

The front row is Scott McLaughlin and Lando Norris – yes, this race will have rows of 2, not three, so we have 17 rows, with Helio Castroneves starting by himself in that row.

McLaughlin got out to a big lead on the start and then we see the field snaking down the back stretch as James Davison took the lead briefly, but it was Scott Speed that would lead the first lap.

Side by side at the line and I think it was Norris, but super close leading the 2nd lap.

Order Lap 4 is Speed, Norris, Rahal, Power, McLaughlin, Karam, Palou, Carpenter, Stefan Wilson, Davison, and Ericsson in 12th.

Alex Palou got squeezed on the front straight and brushed the wall, then got into a crash that included Tony Kanaan and Jack Harvey who got upside down in Turn 1. This brought out the yellow on Lap 5.

Some of the cars at the rear are pitting under this yellow for fuel and tires.

Scott Speed remains the leader, with Graham Rahal behind him, followed by Power, McLaughlin, Norris, Karam, Carpenter, Wilson, Davison, Pagenaud and Newgarden is 11th as we go back to green.

Pagenaud is wearing a firesuit again this weekend (he just went with a polo last weekend).

Back to green at completion of Lap 8.

On the back stretch Rahal looks outside of Speed, but tucks in for a moment. He then goes 2 wide on outside with Power in to Turn 1. Next Lap Power is the one really high, trying the outside of Scott Speed, but that doesn’t work yet.

Rahal gets 2nd back and its he who tries the ourside of Speed next time by, but again tucks in. Cooled off Firestones are working really well up high early in the runs.

Lap 13 and its still Speed leading over Power and Rahal. Power then makes an aggressive dive inside of Speed entering Turn 3. Speed then slides wide, but saves it. We get some chaos behind that, with Rahal picking up some damage in the process – but the track stays green.

Power now leads Norris in the McLaren and Davison in the Byrd entry.

Kanaan is out of the race after his early crash (they get a reset, but possibly picked up other damage – forcing him out).

Lap 20 and Speed is back to 5th and Rahal is 9th after that issue earlier. Speed then pits on Lap 21.

The action has calmed considerably as driver’s work fuel and tire mileage. Stefan Wilson pits on Lap 24.  Power has gotten out to a 10 car lead over Norris.

Leigh Diffey explains that iRacing turned the wind down to just 2mph today, which in turn increased the track temp to 120F, which of course loosens up the track a little bit. That in turn wears tires more so handling is at a premium – this we now have smaller packs and a more strung out field through this long green flag stretch.

Sage Karam moves up to third on Lap 29, with McLaughlin now fourth. Davison pits for tires and fuel.

I like that iRacing has built in some debris (tire rubber) that collects on the aeroscreen as the cars run. If their simulations are accurate, it won’t be a big deal when we get to some real racing, though remember that teams can send a crew member over the wall to pull a tear off during the races this season.

Power pits on Lap 33 with Lando Norris following him. This makes Karam the leader, followed by McLaughlin and Pagenaud. Those pitting now would need to go 37 laps on this tank of fuel, though that’s a really long run, recall we thought 35 was the max. Can someone draft enough or catch a caution to make it.

Lap 35 and Karam pits, but locks up the tires on pit entry and gets sideways, making light contact with the wall – he’ll need to get his front wing and suspension repaired now.

Pagenaud is now the leader over Palou and O’Ward.

Pagenaud pits on Lap 36, meaning he has to go 34 (doable) on this tank of fuel. Pagenaud has a long stop because he ran out of fuel on pit lane. He rejoins the field in 18th, 32 seconds off the lead.

Palou is the leader (he had pitted earlier in the race).

Ericsson takes the lead on Lap 39, followed by Daly and Bourdais – all on an alternate fuel strategy.

Bourdais teakes the lead now as others pit, with Power in 2nd at the moment, with Davison in third.

Power takes the lead with on Lap 41, Davison and Norris follow. Lap 43 and Power pits gives and gives the lead to Davison, with Norris and Speed trailing. Stefan Wilson is 4th in the Juncos car. I’ll also note he’s the only entry racing from my home state of Colorado – I think, Takuma has a house here also, but not sure he’s there now.

This week’s sponsor interview is with Randy Owen, CEO of GMR (Global Medical Response).

The leader with 20 to go is Norris, then Rahal and Newgarden, but Norris pits 2 laps later, giving the lead to Rahal.

CAUTION LAP 53 (17 to go) as Davison and Wilson get together on the back straight. Scott Speed was trying to get by that duo and clipped Wilson who came across track and hit Davison. Those two crash heavily in to the inside wall and fence.

Half the field it seems like pits for tires and fuel. Rahal, the leader does not come in and will be followed on the restart by Rosenqvist, Pageaud, Chilton, Bourdais, Norris, Power, Speed, Askew, Newgarden in 10th.

Back to green with 14 to go and Rahal gets a nice start to keep the lead. Pagenaud drafts by Rosenqvist to get the second spot and then takes the lead entering Turn 1. Rahal stays right with him but doesn’t attempt a move in to Turn 3.

Yellow comes out again, as we have a major crash further back in the field. Looked like Newgarden and possibly Sato got together with mayhem behind them, several cars wind up flipping including Sage Karam.

Pagenaud is the leader, followed by Rahal as we go back to green with 9 laps to go.

Rahal drafts to the lead on the back straight as they enter Turn 3. He barely leads the lap as Norris and Pagenaud make it three wide at the line. Pagenaud then crashes un Turn 1, but we stay green.

Pato O’Ward, Norris and Askew are now the Top 3.

5 to go and Norris has the lead but his teammates Askew and O”ward are all over him. Ericsson is 4th just behind them, and McLaughlin is 5th.

Side by side for the lead but O’Ward can’t make it stick through Turn 1. Ericsson comes back and gets to 2nd for a moment, and then drops to third. Norris still leads Askew is second.

Major crash just in front of the leaders, and its Pagenaud flipping off Turn 4, and he collects Norris – we stay green. Pagenaud was coming to pit lane and Norris ran in to him.

Last lap down the backstretch Ericsson gets the lead inside of O’Ward and Askew as they are three wide in to Turn 3. Then O’Ward gets in to the back of Ericsson entering Turn 4 – and they both crash.

That hands the lead to Askew with Ferrucci just behind him. As they come down the front straight, Ferrucci gets to the outside of Askew and it looks like they’ll be side by side to the line.

All the sudden Ferrucci turns left and collides with Askew, crashing them both!  That was crazy. Post race he claims he was just trying to get closer to Askew for the draft to the line, and takes responsibility for the crash, apologizing to Oliver Askew.

That said, Santino isn’t making many friends on iRacing lately. Recall he insulted Nasr last week, and this week crashed with Askew coming to the finish line. But hey, maybe we’ll gets some rivalry’s out all this iRacing – that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Saw some interesting stuff on Twitter, including Graham Rahal having a massive crash that landed him in the fence. Good thing this was all virtual as we’d need a couple dozen replacement drivers for the next race between injuries (and probably a few suspensions, license revocations, etc).

Scott McLaughlin gets the lead and takes the win as they continue crashing all around him. Conor Daly swerves by the crashing cars and made it through the mess to take 2nd, as Ferrucci and Askew crash across the line in 3rd and 4th respectively.

You can watch the final lap here:

Here is the Top 10 (unofficial):

Scott McLaughlin

Conor Daly

Santino Ferrucci

Oliver Askew

Pato O’Ward

Sebastien Bourdais

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Zach Veach

Felix Rosenqvist

Scott Dixon

We will send the full results and quotes from INDYCAR a little later. Have a great afternoon!