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.

Simon Pagenaud’s engineer relives 2019 Indy 500 victory on Twitter

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The Team Penske engineer for last year’s Indianapolis 500 winner is reliving Simon Pagenaud’s day by tweeting about what he was doing each moment a year later.

Starting with an observation that he awoke in his Indianapolis hotel room at 4:30 a.m., Ben Bretzman (@benbretzman) sent nearly two dozen tweets by 11 a.m. ET about how the morning before the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 unfolded.

Bretzman was through the infield tunnel and in Gasoline Alley by 6 a.m. By 7:30 a.m., he was wondering if his driver was awake yet, but he had heard for the first time from Pagenaud 45 minutes later.

‘BACK HOME AGAIN’Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, NBC

FIERCE FRIENDSHIPPagenaud, Rossi recall epic battle of 2019 Indy 500

Among other highlights: The team’s last strategy meeting was at 8:30 a.m.; final check of the weather was at 9:30 a.m. and Bretzman gave the No. 22 Dallara-Chevrolet a once-over at 10:35 a.m. before it was pushed to the grid.

Follow @BenBretzman to watch the day unfold from the pit box and tune into “Back Home Again at 2 p.m. ET on NBC as Pageanud and Alexander Rossi, who are good friends off the track, recap their epic duel with host Mike Tirico.

Simon Pagenaud and engineer Ben Bretzman debrief at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IndyCar photo by Joe Skibinski).