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Today’s IndyCar iRacing Challenge at COTA: Start time, TV info, more

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The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will return to a road course Saturday as the fifth of six rounds is held at virtual Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.

The 33-driver field will include newcomers Lando Norris (Formula One) and Chaz Mostert (Australian Supercars), who will be waking up in the predawn hours to race Down Under. Former Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot also will be making his debut.

The most recent road course event at Barber Motorsports Park was won by Scott McLaughlin, who also will be racing from Australia well before the sun rises. Simon Pagenaud has won the past two races on ovals (Michigan and Twin Ring Motegi), making it three consecutive victories for Team Penske.

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Sage Karam, who won the iRacing Challenge opener at Watkins Glen International, has been strong on road courses in the series, leading 67 of 90 laps.

Here is the information on today’s virtual race:

START: The command to start engines will be given by Texas-born music artist Jack Ingram 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 singer-songwriter Cory Morrow and his wife, Sherry Morrow, singing the national anthem and at 2:39 p.m. ET.

TRACK: Circuit of The Americas, a 20-turn, 3.41-mile natural road course in Austin, Texas. Turn width: Varies from 39 to 52 feet. Course direction: Counterclockwise.

COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 12. Three laps of yellow followed by a single-file restart.

DISTANCE: The AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge is 32 laps/109.1 miles/175.6 km (approximately 70 minutes).

PUSH TO PASS: 10 activations for a 10-second duration

SETUPS: Fixed; no changes allowed for drivers.

PIT STOPS: Two. Fuel window approximately 40 laps.

FAST REPAIRS: Two (drivers have been allowed two fast repairs, the equivalent of hitting a reset button, at the past two races on road courses; on ovals, drivers have been limited to one fast repair).

REAL WORLD AT COTA: There has been one IndyCar race at COTA. On March 24, 2019, Colton Herta became the youngest winner in series history at 18.

IndyCar rookie Oliver Askew swept both Indy Lights races last March at COTA.

UNOFFICIAL POINTS STANDINGS: There is no championship at play, but if points were being kept, Simon Pagenaud (who has won the past two races) would be leading. Click here for the points standings after Twin Ring Motegi.

PAST FOUR ROUNDS: Click here for the full boxscore from Twin Ring Motegi. 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 AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at Circuit of The Americas is the fifth of six events to be held each Saturday through May 2. Next week’s finale will take place at a non-IndyCar “Dream” track that will be announced soon.

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

SPOTTER’S GUIDE:Click here to view the paint schemes being used in today’s race at Circuit of The Americas.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
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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).