Who can stop Sage?
That’s the big question Saturday, April 4 as the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, a virtual racing event featuring a full field of NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers, continues at 2:30 p.m. (ET) with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst at virtual Barber Motorsports Park.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver Sage Karam won the pole and led 43 of 45 laps Saturday, March 28 in the No. 24 DRR Wix Filters Chevrolet to win the inaugural event of the virtual racing series, the American Red Cross Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International. Karam beat runner-up Felix Rosenqvist of Chip Ganassi Racing (No. 10 NTT DATA Honda) to the finish by 3.6174 seconds, with Will Power of Team Penske (No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet) placing third.
There will be an exciting new addition to the second round of the series Saturday: a live broadcast on NBCSN, including the NBC broadcasting team of Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.
Karam will lead a growing field of 29 drivers in the race Saturday, up from 25 drivers for the opener. New additions include 2018 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year Robert Wickens (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet), five-time series champion Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda), three-time Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge pole winner Ed Carpenter (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet) and Jack Harvey (No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda).
The entry list represents 15 different teams or organizations competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and a field of drivers that has amassed 189 NTT INDYCAR SERIES victories and 14 series championships. Dixon will boost a lineup of series champions that includes Team Penske teammates Josef Newgarden (No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet), Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) and Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet), along with Sebastien Bourdais (No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet) and Tony Kanaan (No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet) of AJ Foyt Racing.
Other NTT INDYCAR SERIES race winners entered in the race Saturday include Graham Rahal (No. 15 One Cure Honda), Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda), James Hinchcliffe (No. 29 Genesys Honda) and Colton Herta (No. 88 Capstone Honda).
Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Jimmie Johnson Racing Chevrolet) also will continue his exploration of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES by racing in Round 2. He placed 16th after starting 19th last Saturday in his virtual INDYCAR debut at Watkins Glen, running at the finish.
The field will race for 45 laps over a virtual version of the rolling, challenging 2.38-mile road course at Barber, located in Birmingham, Alabama. The circuit was scheduled to host the second event of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season Sunday, April 5, but the event weekend was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
All drivers will work with an additional competitive element Saturday, a planned competition caution period that will bunch the field after the round of pit stops is completed, sometime between Laps 28 and 31, and will consist of three laps. A single-file restart will follow this caution period.
The event, which will last approximately 60 minutes, will be televised live on NBCSN. Additional viewing options are still to be confirmed.
The starting lineup will be set through a 10-minute qualifying session prior to the event. In the interest of fairness, iRacing will give all participants the same car setups.
Saturday’s race at a virtual version of Barber Motorsports Park, located in Birmingham, Alabama, is the second of six races to take place every Saturday through May 2. Future venues include a “Driver’s Choice” track April 11, a “Random Draw” track April 18, Circuit of the Americas on April 25 and a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track May 2. The series opened March 28 at Watkins Glen International.
The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge will not crown an overall champion but will add a special element where INDYCAR will make a donation to one of its partner charities.