The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will head to an oval for the first time today with a bevy of notable first-timers in the Chevrolet 275 at Michigan International Speedway.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Max Chilton and James Davison will be making their debuts in the series’ third round, which will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
The field of 31 drivers is the largest yet in the virtual series, which visited Watkins Glen International and Barber Motorsports Park the past two weeks.
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Winners Sage Karam (Watkins Glen) and Scott McLaughlin (Barber) are in the race along with other previous podium finishers Felix Rosenqvist and Will Power.
Five drivers who will be racing today also competed in the most recent real-world IndyCar race at Michigan on Aug. 5, 2007: Tony Kanaan (winner); Andretti (second), Hunter-Reay (sixth), Scott Dixon (10th) and Ed Carpenter (14th).
There will be no competition caution in the race (after the series used one at Barber). With a green-flag fuel window slightly less than the midpoint of the 85-lap race, divergent strategies of one or two stops could come into play depending on the number of caution flags.
With the addition of Andretti and Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport will have a team-high six drivers (with Colton Herta, James Hinchcliffe, Alexander Rossi and Zach Veach also driving Hondas).
Here is the information on today’s virtual race:
START: The command to start engines will be given by NBC Sports host Mike Tirico at 2:43 p.m. ET, followed by the green flag at 2:45 p.m.
TV: Coverage of the race will begin on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET and also via the NBCSN stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports App. The IndyCar on NBC booth of Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy will have the call of the race with reporter Marty Snider.
The race also can be viewed through drivers’ individual Twitch channels.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: Performed by NBC’s “The Voice” contestant Beth Griffith-Manley at 2:39 p.m. ET.
COMPETITION CAUTION: None.
DISTANCE: The Chevrolet 275 is 85 laps (170 miles/275 km) around the virtual 2-mile oval.
SETUPS: Fixed; no changes allowed for drivers.
PIT STOPS: Two. Fuel window approximately 37 laps.
FAST REPAIRS: One (drivers were allowed two fast repairs, the equivalent of hitting a reset button, at the past two races on road courses).
REAL WORLD AT MICHIGAN: There have been 56 IndyCar races at Michigan International Speedway from 1968-2007. Ronnie Bucknum was the first winner on Oct. 13, 1968, and Tony Kanaan won the most recent on Aug. 5, 2007.
UNOFFICIAL POINTS STANDINGS: There is no championship at play, but if points were being kept, Scott McLaughlin would be leading. Click here for the rankings.
NEXT: The Chevrolet 275 at Michigan International Speedway is the third of six events to be held each Saturday through May 2. Next week is a “Random Draw” track (April 18), then Circuit of The Americas (April 25) and a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track (May 2).
ENTRY LIST: Click here to view the entry list for the third round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge.
SPOTTER’S GUIDE: Click here to see the paint schemes being used in today’s race at Michigan International Speedway.