Sage Karam seeks another iRacing victory at Barber Motorsports Park

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INDYCAR’s iRacing Challenge continues this weekend as 29 cars and drivers will race at virtual Barber Motorsports Park for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. ET.

The career achievements of the drivers entered in this weekend’s race include 14 total IndyCar championships, five Indy 500 victories, and 189 IndyCar race victories.

Oh, and a few NASCAR and Supercars championships as well with both Jimmie Johnson and Scott McLaughlin racing again this weekend.

ENTRY LIST: Who will be racing in round two

SPOTTER GUIDE: All 29 of this weekend’s paint schemes

Sage Karam will enter Saturday’s race as the most recent winner on the circuit, having won the inaugural race at virtual Watkins Glen last weekend.

An avid sim racer, Karam led 43 of 45 laps en route to his victory last Saturday. Karam is one of IndyCar’s most accomplished iRacing competitors, with 144 wins in 533 road course starts alone.

“As a part-time driver in the NTT IndyCar Series, I needed to be sharp with my reflexes and car control when I wasn’t on track,” Karam said. “I discovered iRacing quite a while back, and I truly believe it has helped me with my racing career. I was more nervous before the Glen race than at the Indy 500.”

Afterward, the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver said he was worn out after a “very mentally draining” race even despite his domination.

“In iRacing, we don’t have the fear factor of crashing or wrecking the car,” he said. “But you are racing on the edge with proper steering and pedal pressure as in an Indy car, and you are racing wheel-to-wheel in a competition. And all of the drivers are extremely competitive.

“The Barber track isn’t one of my favorites, but I’ll be ready on Saturday.”

Four new drivers will join Karam and company in this weekend’s event, including Scott Dixon, Jack Harvey, and Ed Carpenter, who is making his first non-oval start since Houston in 2013.

“It has been a long time since I competed in a road race, both the cars and iRacing have changed quite a lot,” Carpenter said. “I am a week late to the party, but hopefully, I will be up to speed enough to give the 21 car a good ride! I know my friends and family are excited to watch me, so no pressure!”

But the driver many fans are most excited to see is Robert Wickens, who will drive a race car of any kind for the first time since suffering a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway on Aug 18. 2018.

Wickens missed last weekend’s race when his equipment did not arrive on time, but is now all set up and ready to race.

“I’m just excited to drive something,” Wickens told reporters Friday. “Last night was the first time I’ve driven any form of race car since the accident at Pocono. Even though it’s virtual, it still felt pretty good.”

Fans will also have another avenue to watch the race on Saturday, as it will be broadcast live on NBCSN.

Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell, and Paul Tracy will call the action as usual, and fans will be in for a few extra treats as Miss Alabama 2019 Tiara Pennington will sing the national anthem and NBA and Auburn University legend Charles Barkley will give the command to fire engines.

The second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge will take place at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and streaming here.

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

How to Watch Nitro Rallycross

Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.