IndyCar will begin a 6-race exhibition season on iRacing next week

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On the heels of NASCAR and IMSA forming their exhibition events, IndyCar announced its iRacing plans Friday.

The series will stage a six-race schedule that will begin March 28 with “a stellar lineup of current NTT IndyCar Series drivers and possibly some special guests.”

IMSA will play host to a “SuperSaturday” at a virtual Sebring International Raceway that will feature some big names from IndyCar.

Fans will vote on IndyCar social platforms today through March 26 to select the inaugural track for the season.

NASCAR will hold a Sunday exhibition all-star race with active drivers including Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin as well as NASCAR on NBC analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Here is the release from IndyCar:

INDYCAR is going racing again, virtually that is.

INDYCAR and iRacing, the world’s premier motorsports racing simulation, are partnering to currently stage six virtual race events featuring a stellar lineup of current NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers and possibly some special guests beginning Saturday, March 28.

Each race will be streamed live on indycar.com for the enjoyment of racing fans while the current 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season is suspended through April as a result of the coronavirus situation. While indycar.com will serve as the primary live streaming source, there also will be secondary platforms to watch the virtual race events each week – INDYCAR’s YouTube and Facebook Live as well as iRacing’s Twitch.

Each virtual race event, which will last approximately 90 minutes to two hours, will begin at 4 p.m. ET each Saturday through May 2.

To enhance the fan experience, INDYCAR will conduct a 15-minute, pre-race virtual autograph session with several of the participants beginning at 3:15 p.m. each week. There also will be a live interview with the race winner by post-race host Katie Hargitt on INDYCAR’s Instagram immediately following the conclusion of the race.

The inaugural INDYCAR iRacing Challenge race venue will be selected through bracket voting by fans today through Thursday. Fans can vote daily on the track matchup in the bracket to determine which venue will advance to the next round. The voting, which has a 12-hour window beginning 10 a.m. daily after today, is available through the @INDYCAR Instagram and Twitter handles or online at indycar.com/iracing.

The opening virtual race event will be followed by Barber Motorsports Park (April 4), “Driver’s Choice” track (April 11), “Random Draw” track (April 18), Circuit of The Americas (April 25) and a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track (May 2).

The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge events will feature qualifications in addition to the races. Teams will be able to design car liveries to match their desired paint schemes. To further give the action an authentic look and feel, each car will be equipped with INDYCAR’s new Aeroscreen, a revolutionary cockpit-protecting device introduced for the 2020 season.

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.

An entry list of the drivers participating, along with the bracket-winning race venue for the opener, will be announced next week.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)