Race Preview: IndyCar iRacing Challenge American Red Cross Grand Prix

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:






1Josef NewgardenHitachiTeam PenskeChevrolet
2Scott McLaughlinShell V-PowerTeam PenskeChevrolet
4Sebastien BourdaisTresibaA.J. Foyt EnterprisesChevrolet
5Pato O’WardArrow ElectronicsArrow McLaren SPChevrolet
7Oliver AskewArrow ElectronicsArrow McLaren SPChevrolet
8Marcus EricssonHuski ChocolateChip Ganassi RacingHonda
10Felix RosenqvistNTT DataChip Ganassi RacingHonda
11Kyle KaiserJuncos RacingChevrolet
12Will PowerVerizonTeam PenskeChevrolet
14Tony KanaanABC Supply Co.A.J. Foyt EnterprisesChevrolet
15Graham RahalUnited RentalsRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda
18Santino FerrucciSealMasterDale Coyne Vasser SullivanHonda
20Conor DalyUS Air ForceEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet
22Simon PagenaudMenardsTeam PenskeChevrolet
24Sage KaramWix FiltersDreyer & ReinboldChevrolet
26Zach VeachGainbridgeAndretti AutosportHonda
27Alexander RossiAutoNation/NAPAAndretti AutosportHonda
28Kyle KirkwoodDHLAndretti AutosportHonda
29James HinchcliffeGenesysAndretti AutosportHonda
41Dalton KellettK-Line InsulatorsA.J. Foyt EnterprisesChevrolet
48Jimmie JohnsonAllyJimmie Johnson RacingChevrolet
55Alex PalouDale Coyne Racing with Team GohHonda
59Felipe NasrGallagherCarlinChevrolet
88Colton HertaCapstoneAndretti Harding Steinbrenner AutosportHonda
98Scott SpeedUS Concrete/CurbAndretti Herta AutosportHonda


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.