PWC: 50 cars set for a busy Barber weekend

Photo: PWC

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Following a somewhat hectic weekend at Long Beach, even despite limited track time, the Pirelli World Challenge heads to Barber Motorsports Park this weekend for a copious amount of track time and a pair of doubleheader events.

After just the GT/GTA classes raced at Long Beach, GT Cup rejoins the GT/GTA ranks this weekend and the GTS class is back as well for a pair of races.

In the GT class, Alvaro Parente heads to Barber seeking to actually win his first race on course, after winning at Long Beach following a post-race penalty assessed to Johnny O’Connell.

Parente is one of the three K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3s, along with Austin Cindric and Colin Thompson. Parente is in the same No. 9 McLaren that won race two here last year, then driven by Kevin Estre, in a 1-2 finish for the team that features the Flying Lizard Motorsports crew.

Cindric’s No. 6 McLaren is repaired after suffering damage on three quarters from his accident at Long Beach, when he got hip-checked at Turn 8 by James Sofronas.

Meanwhile O’Connell looks for a double bit of redemption in his Velocity Red No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R, both following Long Beach and at this event. The Long Beach penalty cost O’Connell his second win of the season; meanwhile the second race last year, O’Connell’s Cadillac suffered a blaze and required the use of another chassis for the next race weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

O’Connell leads Michael Lewis by 41 points (458-417); Lewis, the double St. Petersburg winner, looks for wins three and four in the No. 41 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R. O’Connell’s teammate Michael Cooper is third in points with Parente and Patrick Long completing the top five in points. James Davison also won here last year in the No. 33 Always Evolving Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, but lost all points following a post-race technical infraction.

Others to watch in GT: Bryan Heitkotter, Davison’s teammate at Always Evolving, in a repaired No. 05 Nissan, and Jon Fogarty, whose GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team has needed to perform a minor miracle on its No. 99 McLaren 650S GT3 to get it here and running.

Martin Fuentes and Sloan Urry look to continue respective win streaks in GTA and GTC, respectively.

Elsewhere in those two classes, a handful of drivers return to GTA for the first time since COTA in March, Alec Udell has a new paint scheme on his GMG entry in GTC and Corey Fergus has a new chassis in GTC after his St. Petersburg accident.

The GTS class features a 23-car field and beyond the three race winners this season (Lawson Aschenbach, Blackdog Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R, Brett Sandberg, ANSA KTM X-BOW GT4 and Jack Roush Jr., Roush Ford Mustang Boss 302), others to watch include Ginetta driver Parker Chase and SIN driver Jade Buford, the latter of whom makes his car debut this weekend.

The full entry list is linked here.

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”