The world is currently faced with unprecedented times due to the COVID 19 pandemic and while there is no real life racing at the moment the NTT IndyCar Series has embraced virtual racing. The series have just reached the halfway point in the NTT IndyCar Series iRacing Challenge having been at Watkins Glen, Barber Motorsports Park and Michigan International Speedway so far.
Looking at iRacing on TV you could be mistaken into thinking it is the real thing. The NTT IndyCar Series have done a fantastic job in bringing all of the teams on board with their drivers with the addition of guest drivers such as seven time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr as well as Virgin Australia Supercar champion Scott McLaughlin.
The opening race at The Glen was won by Dreyer and Reinbold Racing’s Sage Karam in the No.24 Wix Filters Chevrolet while in the second race Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin took victory in the No.2 Shell V Power Chevrolet.
Last weekend, defending Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud in the No.22 DXC Technology Chevrolet claimed victory at Michigan International Speedway giving the series three different winners in the first three races which was fantastic and the racing like in real life has been close throughout the field and it has been great to see drivers working with their real life spotters to get through traffic.
It has also been fantastic for fans as they have been able to vote for the track they wanted to see drivers race on such as Watkins Glen and indeed this weekend we see the return if a fan favourite, Twin Ring Motegi.
Roger Penske who owns the NTT IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway along with running Team Penske has been delighted with the reaction to the NTT IndyCar Series iRacing Challenge.
Speaking to Dale Earnhardt Jr. During his podcast earlier this week The Captain said that he has been following the action on TV and he feels that what iRacing have put together has been terrific, however Penske said that they don’t want to over saturate the market as IndyCar, NASCAR and IMSA are all running virtual races this weekend.
Penske also said that the NTT IndyCar Series iRacing Challenge has kept the sport relevant as drivers are discussing it on social media and discussing their cars.
The NTT IndyCar Series iRacing Challenge has been great for the series sponsors too as the cars have been painted in the colours for each team’s primary sponsor for example, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal has been driving the No.15 Total Honda and when the drivers have been shown on split screen side by side they are wearing their team gear.
The extra bonus for IndyCar is that the iRacing Challenge has been televised live by their TV partner NBCSN and also by Sky Sports In the UK and Ireland.
The NTT IndyCar Series iRacing Challenge has also enabled the drivers to focus on the driving and with regular communication with their spotters. Team Penske for example, have held post race debriefs like they normally do on a regular basis.