Today’s iRacing IndyCar race at virtual Watkins Glen: Start time, more

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The NTT IndyCar Series will return to Watkins Glen International to begin a new era this afternoon, kicking off the six-race IndyCar iRacing Challenge online racing series.

The 4 p.m. ET race will feature a lineup chock full of IndyCar stars such as Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi and Simon Pagenaud.

It also will feature seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, who has talked openly about wanting to race real-world IndyCar once his full-time NASCAR career has ended.

RESULTS: Where everyone finished at Watkins Glen

WHAT THEY SAID: IndyCar drivers react to their iRacing Challenge debuts

Scott McLaughlin, the two-time Supercars champion in the race, has 497 victories in 1,189 iRacing starts (which leads the field) and 178 wins on road courses.

Power (156 wins in 1,145 road-course starts in iRacing) also is a driver to watch with Scott Speed (71 wins in 160 iRacing road-course starts) and Sage Karam (143 wins in 532 starts).

Here is the information on today’s virtual race:

GREEN FLAG: Shortly after 4 p.m. ET

HOW TO WATCH: Stream the race via http://www.IndyCar.com or via IndyCar’s Facebook and YouTube platforms. It also can be seen on iRacing’s Twitch and YouTube platforms. The IndyCar on NBC booth of Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy will have the call of the race, and Katie Hargitt will interview the race winner on IndyCar’s Instagram Live postrace.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Iconic singer Jim Cornelison, who has sung “Back Home Again in Indiana” at the past three Indianapolis 500s, will handle the honors.

DISTANCE: The American Red Cross Grand Prix is 45 laps (151.65 miles) around the virtual 11-turn, 3.37-mile road course.

PUSH TO PASS: There are 10 activations for a 10-second duration.

PIT STOPS: Two. Cars will be allowed two “Fast Repairs” during the race.

SETUPS: Fixed; no changes allowed for drivers

QUALIFYING: The starting lineup for the American Red Cross Grand Prix will be set through a 10-minute qualifying session prior to the event.

CHARITY: The opening event was named the American Red Cross Grand Prix to bring awareness to the organization and the efforts to encourage blood donations amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The American Red Cross faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this period. Make an appointment to give blood by visiting https://sleevesup.redcrossblood.org/campaign/sleeves-up-with-indycar/ or visit www.redcross.org.

NEXT: The American Red Cross Grand Prix will be the first of six events to be held weekly each Saturday through May 2. The opening event will be followed by Barber Motorsports Park (April 4), a “Driver’s Choice” track (April 11), a “Random Draw” track (April 18), Circuit of The Americas (April 25) and a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track (May 2).

ENTRY LIST: Click here for the most recent entry list for the opener of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. There are currently 25 drivers in the race, but there could be a well-known 26th addition.

SPOTTERS GUIDE: Click here to view the paint schemes being used in today’s race at Watkins Glen.

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).