It was round three of the NTT IndyCar iRacing Challenge from the virtual Michigan International Speedway on a Saturday afternoon. The defending Indy 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud, was close on fuel at the end of the race but saved just enough to take the checkered flag to win the Chevrolet 275. The win came as a surprise to the Frenchman.
“I cannot believe this just happened,” Pagenaud excitedly told NBC Sports in his victory lane interview. “This win is all credit to my strategist (Ben Bretzman) and virtual team that is behind me on this. We worked hard to understand this kind of racing and trying to work with the teammates together to understand their conception and strategies. I must say, it’s a pleasure to bring this DXC technology car to victory lane this year.”
The Chevrolet 275 from Michigan got off to a crazy start. Several cars got involved in a multi-car incident, as a car glitched and another car making contact. Oliver Askew made slight contact with IndyCar legend Scott Dixon, which set off a chain of reactions that saw other drivers in the wreck. Despite the early caution, the event went back green on Lap 6 and we saw some thrilling battles for the lead. Team Penske driver, Will Power, battled for the lead with Marcus Ericsson and Sage Karam. Those challenges continued all the way up to the first round of green flag pit stops.
The first round of green flag pit stops took place just a couple of laps before halfway on Lap 39. Beginning the pit stops were Max Chilton and Conor Daly. The leaders, Karam and Power, pitted at Lap 41 from the lead. Afterwards, drivers were in fuel saving mode, as there was a limited amount of cautions during this race. And with that came a long green flag to run to the finish. However, drivers had to make one final pit stop that came with less than 20 to go. This included Karam and and Power again who both pitted with 13 to go. Other drivers also pitted as they did not have enough fuel to make it to the end. However, some were on fuel conservation mode and trying to stretch it to the finish. That saw Dale Earnhardt Jr., Simon Pagenaud and Scott McLaughlin, among others, staying out in hopes of taking the win.
But, only one racer was able to outsmart them all on fuel mileage and it was Team Penske driver Simon Pagenaud picking up the win at the virtual Michigan. Pagenaud was able to take the victory after stretching his fuel to the end.
“I was thinking about that during the race,” Pagenaud told Paul Tracy about his virtual run being similar to when he won the 2019 Indy 500. “I thought I may have lost the race. We were just saving fuel and trying to stay out of trouble. At the start of the race, everybody piled up. We were trying to avoid it, but we got run into. The goal was to stay out back, as we didn’t have the pace in qualifying. We must have done something wrong with my lane. So, we decided to go with option B, which was to conserve fuel and saving tires. We had some good pace as well when saving fuel.”
Official Results following the Chevrolet 275
- Simon Pagenaud
- Scott McLaughlin
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Will Power
- Graham Rahal
- Jack Harvey
- Alexander Rossi
- Ryan Hunter-Reay
- Ed Carpenter
- Alex Palou
- Zach Veach
- Kyle Kaiser
- Conor Daly
- Sage Karam
Up Next: There will be another iRacing IndyCar Challenge that is to be held next weekend. However, the track, the time, and TV coverage is yet to be announced.