Today’s iRacing IndyCar race at Motegi: Start time, TV info, more

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The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will make its second consecutive trip to an oval Saturday with another wave of accomplished novices joining the largest field yet in the series.

The 113-lap race at virtual Twin Ring Motegi’s oval will feature 33 drivers, up two from Round 3 at Michigan International Speedway. There were 29 drivers in Round 2 at Barber Motorsports Park and 25 in the opener at Watkins Glen International.

Two-time NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Busch will make his debut, along with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato.

“I’ve had a lot of fun racing different cars I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to try in real life because of my schedule on the NASCAR side,” Busch said in a release. “I started practicing with the group on Thursday, and things have gone well so far. These guys are really good at what they do in real life and equally as good in the sim world. Just want to thank all the IndyCar drivers for welcoming me.”

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Said Castroneves: “I’m so happy to be back in IndyCar, even though it’s in a virtual race at Twin Ring Motegi. I feel like I have the edge for this weekend since I’m one of the few drivers in the field who actually raced there in real life and have been able to win there with Roger (Penske) back in the day.

Sato will be making his iRacing debut.

“I finally have my equipment this week and am thrilled about my debut in iRacing at Motegi,” he said in a release. “What amazing timing! The Japanese fans are already very excited and very happy that they can watch the current IndyCar Series race in Motegi virtually. I have been visiting Twin Ring Motegi every winter as Honda held fan appreciation days. … We missed racing in an IndyCar race in Japan for a long time, but who could imagine we are going back there for virtual racing?

“We are living in extraordinary times at the moment, but this is an amazing story to be able to race an Indy car at virtual Twin Ring Motegi.”

Here is the information on today’s virtual race:

START: The command to start engines will be given by auto racing legend Mario Andretti 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 Big Machine Records country music star Carly Pearce at 2:39 p.m. ET.

TRACK: Virtual Twin Ring Motegi, an egg-shaped, 1.549-mile oval in Motegi, Japan. Turn banking: 10 degrees.

COMPETITION CAUTION: None.

DISTANCE: The Firestone 175 is 113 laps/175 miles/281.6 km (approximately 75 minutes).

SETUPS: Fixed; no changes allowed for drivers.

PIT STOPS: Two. Fuel window approximately 40 laps.

FAST REPAIRS: One (same as last week at Michigan; drivers were allowed two fast repairs, the equivalent of hitting a reset button, at the past two races on road courses).

REAL WORLD AT MOTEGI: There were 14 IndyCar races at Twin Ring Motegi from 1998-2011. Adrian Fernandez won the inaugural race March 28, 1998, while Scott Dixon won the most recent, on Sept. 18, 2011. Danica Patrick made history at the circuit April 20, 2008, becoming the only female driver to win an IndyCar race.

Ten drivers in the field Saturday also competed in the last IndyCar race at Twin Ring Motegi on Sept. 18, 2011: Scott Dixon (winner), Will Power (second), Marco Andretti (third), Sebastien Bourdais (sixth), Takuma Sato (10th), Graham Rahal (12th), James Hinchcliffe (15th), Tony Kanaan (17th), Helio Castroneves (22nd) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (24th).

Two drivers in the field each have two career real-life victories at Twin Ring Motegi: Helio Castroneves (2006, 2010) and Scott Dixon (2009, 2011).

UNOFFICIAL POINTS STANDINGS: There is no championship at play, but if points were being kept, Scott McLaughlin would be leading. Click here for the points standings after Michigan.

PAST THREE ROUNDS: Click here for the full boxscore from Michigan. Click here for the full boxscore from Barber. Click here for the full box score from Watkins Glen.

NEXT: The Firestone 175 at Twin Ring Motegi is the fourth of six events to be held each Saturday through May 2. Next week is at the Circuit of The Americas (April 25) and then a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track (May 2) is the finale.

ENTRY LIST: Click to view the entry list for the fourth round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge.

SPOTTER’S GUIDE: Click here to view the paint schemes being used in today’s race at Twin Ring Motegi.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)