Who knew that the first official NTT IndyCar Series race with the series’ brand new Aeroscreen would take place on iRacing?
Unfortunately, this year’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was halted before the green flag could drop on the race itself, but a majority of this year’s drivers—plus some very special guests—will get to race anyway in today’s American Red Cross Grand Prix (4PM ET, IndyCar.com). The event will run at Watkins Glen International, which defeated Michigan International Speedway in the last round of an eight-track fan vote on social media.
IndyCar has pulled out all the stops, from launching its Fantasy Challenge for the event to having NBC Sports’ Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell, and Paul Tracy call the action. In turn, iRacing debuted the new IndyCar Aeroscreen on Thursday, just in time to ensure that the six-race invitational series would be accurate to the new specifications of the Dallara IR-18.
Many top IndyCar drivers are already frequent users of iRacing, from Will Power (who won at Watkins Glen in 2010) to Sage Karam, who drives for sim racing standouts VRS Coanda Simsport when he’s not running for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in the real world. The same goes for Scott McLaughlin; while his long-awaited real-world IndyCar debut with Team Penske may be on hold, he’s expected to be a front-runner as a top road racer who made the top split of iRacing’s 24 Hours of Daytona earlier this year.
The newcomers to iRacing, meanwhile, represent some of the top real-world IndyCar drivers imaginable. IndyCar front-runners making the adjustment to iRacing include defending series champion Josef Newgarden, four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais, Indianapolis 500 winners Alexander Rossi and Tony Kanaan, and former Indianapolis 500 polesitter James Hinchcliffe.
That just leaves the special guests, and it’s hard to pick the bigger story between them. On the one hand, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has made his desire to try IndyCar clear, and he’ll be running his familiar #48 and Ally sponsorship just like he does in stock cars. On the other, the series may also the first chance to see Robert Wickens behind the wheel of an IndyCar again as he continues his recovery from injuries sustained in a 2018 crash. While he won’t be able to make it into this week’s event, a push from the IndyCar community, including help from Cary and Todd Bettenhausen, Max Papis, and Steve Fusek, should have Wickens set to drive a hand-controlled simulator in the coming weeks.
American Red Cross Grand Prix Entry List
The full entry list for today’s American Red Cross Grand Prix is as follows:
|1||Josef Newgarden||Hitachi||Team Penske||Chevrolet|
|2||Scott McLaughlin||Shell V-Power||Team Penske||Chevrolet|
|4||Sebastien Bourdais||Tresiba||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Chevrolet|
|5||Pato O’Ward||Arrow Electronics||Arrow McLaren SP||Chevrolet|
|7||Oliver Askew||Arrow Electronics||Arrow McLaren SP||Chevrolet|
|8||Marcus Ericsson||Huski Chocolate||Chip Ganassi Racing||Honda|
|10||Felix Rosenqvist||NTT Data||Chip Ganassi Racing||Honda|
|11||Kyle Kaiser||Juncos Racing||Chevrolet|
|12||Will Power||Verizon||Team Penske||Chevrolet|
|14||Tony Kanaan||ABC Supply Co.||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Chevrolet|
|15||Graham Rahal||United Rentals||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Honda|
|18||Santino Ferrucci||SealMaster||Dale Coyne Vasser Sullivan||Honda|
|20||Conor Daly||US Air Force||Ed Carpenter Racing||Chevrolet|
|22||Simon Pagenaud||Menards||Team Penske||Chevrolet|
|24||Sage Karam||Wix Filters||Dreyer & Reinbold||Chevrolet|
|26||Zach Veach||Gainbridge||Andretti Autosport||Honda|
|27||Alexander Rossi||AutoNation/NAPA||Andretti Autosport||Honda|
|28||Kyle Kirkwood||DHL||Andretti Autosport||Honda|
|29||James Hinchcliffe||Genesys||Andretti Autosport||Honda|
|41||Dalton Kellett||K-Line Insulators||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Chevrolet|
|48||Jimmie Johnson||Ally||Jimmie Johnson Racing||Chevrolet|
|55||Alex Palou||Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh||Honda|
|88||Colton Herta||Capstone||Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport||Honda|
|98||Scott Speed||US Concrete/Curb||Andretti Herta Autosport||Honda|
Following the American Red Cross Grand Prix, the IndyCar iRacing Challenge will return on April 4 to Barber Motorsports Park, running in place of the real-world Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit www.iracing.com.
This preview has been updated.