Watkins Glen chosen as track for IndyCar’s iRacing series opener

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Watkins Glen International has been voted by fans as the opening track for the IndyCar iRacing Challenge.

The six-race series will begin Saturday and run through May 2 as IndyCar’s real-world competition remains sidelined by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Thursday that the Indianapolis 500 would be postponed to Aug. 23, and the 2020 season is scheduled to begin May 30-31 in Detroit.

In fan voting on IndyCar.com to choose the first iRacing track, Watkins Glen International and Michigan International Speedway had emerged from an eight-track bracket that featured separate halves for road courses and ovals.

MORE: Sage Karam previews IndyCar iRacing Challenge

ENTRY LIST: Who will be racing in IndyCar’s iRacing opener

Watkins Glen reached the final by defeating Sonoma and Montreal (which had eliminated Sebring).

Michigan eliminated the Milwaukee Mile in the first round and then knocked out Auto Club Speedway (which beat Twin Ring Motegi).

The NTT IndyCar Series raced at Watkins Glen from 2005-10 and 2016-17. Alexander Rossi, who will be competing Saturday in the online race, is the most recent winner.

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will begin at 4 p.m. ET and will be streamed on IndyCar.com, the YouTube channels of IndyCar and iRacing, Twitch for iRacing and IndyCar’s Facebook Live.

Each race will last about 90 minutes to two hours.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).