Here are the (unofficial) IndyCar iRacing points after COTA

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Heading into the season finale of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge, there’s a Team Penske logjam atop the unofficial points standings.

Teammates Simon Pagenaud and Will Power are tied with 176 points through five races.

Pagenaud finished 14th at Circuit of The Americas after back-to-back victories at Michigan International Speedway and Twin Ring Motegi. The 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner lost a 13-point lead on Power, who finished sixth at COTA.

FULL BOXSCOREClick here to see the complete results from COTA

POSTRACE REACTIONWhat drivers said after the COTA race

Scott McLaughlin, the Penske driver who competes in the Australian Supercars Series, is third in the rankings at 161 points after a fourth at COTA, which was won by Formula One’s Lando Norris in his series debut.

The finale of the six-race IndyCar iRacing Challenge will take place Saturday (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 33-driver field will be open to full-time NTT IndyCar Series entries, Indianapolis 500 winners who have raced in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge and any series race winner (including Norris).

The remainder of the field for the 70-lap race will be filled Wednesday in a qualifying event.

INDYCAR iRACING CHALLENGE POINTS STANDINGS

Here are the current IndyCar iRacing Challenge standings after five of six races:

1. Simon Pagenaud – 176
1. Will Power – 176
3. Scott McLaughlin (R) – 161
4. Felix Rosenqvist – 129
5. Sage Karam – 114
6. Santino Ferrucci – 103
7. Graham Rahal – 95
8. Alex Palou (R) – 94
9. Josef Newgarden – 90
10. Marcus Ericsson – 87
11. Scott Dixon – 79
12. Jack Harvey – 76
13. Dalton Kellett (R) – 75
14. Pato O’Ward (R) – 74
15. Zach Veach – 72
16. Conor Daly – 68
16. Alexander Rossi – 68
16. Colton Herta – 68
19. Robert Wickens – 66
20. Oliver Askew (R) – 65
21. Felipe Nasr (R) – 57
22. Kyle Kaiser – 55
22. Ed Carpenter – 55
24. Lando Norris – 54
25. Sebastien Bourdais – 50
26. Scott Speed (R) – 45
27. Ryan Hunter-Reay – 44
28. Tony Kanaan – 35
28. Dale Earnhardt Jr (R) – 35
30. Rinus VeeKay (R) – 33
31. Kyle Kirkwood (R) – 32
31. James Hinchcliffe – 32
31. Jimmie Johnson (R) – 32
34. Takuma Sato – 23
35. Max Chilton – 19
36. Kyle Busch (R) – 17
37. James Davison – 15
38. Marco Andretti – 10
38. Chaz Mostert – 10
40. Helio Castroneves – 5
40. Spencer Pigot – 5

Points Earned at Watkins Glen:

1. Sage Karam – 54 (+1 for winning pole, +1 for leading a lap, +2 for leading the most laps)
2. Felix Rosenqvist – 40
3. Will Power – 36 (+ 1 for leading a lap)
4. Scott McLaughlin – 32
5. Oliver Askew – 30
6. Simon Pagenaud – 28
7. Josef Newgarden – 26
8. Santino Ferucci – 24
9. Kyle Kirkwood – 22
10. Conor Daly – 20
11. Dalton Kellett – 19
12. Kyle Kaiser – 18
13. Pato O’Ward – 17
14. Graham Rahal – 16
15. Felipe Nasr – 15
16. Jimmie Johnson – 14
17. Alexander Rossi – 13
18. Marcus Ericsson – 12
19. Zach Veach – 11
20. Alex Palou – 10
21. Scott Speed – 9
22. Colton Herta – 8
23. Sebastien Bourdais – 7
24. Tony Kanaan – 6
25. James Hinchcliffe – 0 (Did not start)

Points earned at Barber:

1. Scott McGlaughlin – 51 (+1 for leading a lap)
2. Will Power – 40
3. Scott Speed – 36 (+1 for leading a lap)
4. Alex Palou – 32
5. Simon Pagenaud – 30
6. Felix Rosenqvist – 29 (+1 for leading a lap)
7. Colton Herta – 26
8. Robert Wickens – 24
9. Josef Newgarden – 22
10. Santino Ferucci – 20
11. Dalton Kellett – 19
12. Jimmie Johnson – 18
13. Sebastien Bourdais – 17
14. Graham Rahal – 16
15. Oliver Askew – 15
16. Scott Dixon – 14
17. James Hinchcliffe – 13
18. Ed Carpenter – 12
19. Zach Veach – 11
20. Kyle Kirkwood – 10
21. Kyle Kaiser – 9
22. Alexander Rossi – 8
23. Conor Daly – 7
24. Pato O’Ward – 6
25. Marcus Ericsson – 5
26. Tony Kanaan – 5
27. Sage Karam – 9 (+1 for winning pole, +1 for leading a lap, +2 for leading the most laps)
28. Jack Harvey – 5
29. Felipe Nasr – 5

Points earned at Michigan:

1. Simon Pagenaud – 51 (+1 for leading a lap)
2. Scott McLaughlin – 40
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr – 35
4. Will Power – 33 (+1 for leading a lap)
5. Graham Rahal – 30
6. Jack Harvey – 28
7. Alexander Rossi – 27 (+1 for leading a lap)
8. Ryan Hunter-Reay – 25 (+1 for leading a lap)
9. Ed Carpenter – 22
10. Alex Palou – 21 (+1 for leading a lap)
11. Zach Veach – 20 (+1 for leading a lap)
12. Kyle Kaiser – 18
13. Conor Daly – 17
14. Sage Karam – 19 (+1 for leading a lap, +2 for leading the most laps)
15. James Davison – 15
16. Dalton Kellett – 14
17. Felipe Nasr – 14 (+1 for leading a lap)
18. Tony Kanaan – 12
19. Marcus Ericsson – 13 (+1 for leading a lap, +1 for winning pole)
20. Sebastien Bourdais – 10
21. Felix Rosenqvist – 9
22. James Hinchcliffe – 8
23. Santino Ferucci – 7
24. Josef Newgarden – 6
25. Pato O’Ward – 5
26. Robert Wickens – 5
27. Max Chilton – 5
28. Colton Herta – 5
29. Marco Andretti – 5
30. Scott Dixon – 5
31. Oliver Askew – 5

Points earned at Motegi:

1. Simon Pagenuad – 51 (+1 for leading a lap)
2. Scott Dixon – 41 (+1 for leading a lap)
3. Will Power – 38 (+1 for leading a lap, +2 for leading the most laps)
4. Marcus Ericsson – 33 (+1 for leading a lap)
5. Robert Wickens – 32 (+1 for leading a lap, +1 for winning pole)
6. Jack Harvey – 29 (+1 for leading a lap)
7. Sage Karam – 27 (+1 for leading a lap)
8. Zach Veach – 25 (+1 for leading a lap)
9. Santino Ferrucci – 22
10. Graham Rahal – 20
11. Conor Daly – 19
12. Takuma Sato – 18
13. Kyle Busch – 17
14. Felix Rosenqvist – 16
15. Josef Newgarden – 16 (+1 for leading a lap)
16. Ryan Hunter-Reay – 14
17. Ed Carpenter – 13
18. Colton Herta – 12
19. Dalton Kellett – 11
20. Sebastien Bourdais – 10
21. Oliver Askew – 10 (+1 for leading a lap)
22. Alex Palou – 8
23. Rinus VeeKay – 7
24. Scott McLaughlin – 6
25. Marco Andretti – 5
26. Pato O’Ward – 5
27. Kyle Kaiser – 5
28. Alexander Rossi – 5
29. Helio Castroneves – 5
30. Tony Kanaan – 5
31. Felipe Nasr – 5
32. Max Chilton – 5
33. James Hinchcliffe – 0 (Did not start)

Points earned at COTA:

1. Lando Norris – 54 (50 +4 for pole, lap led, most laps led)
2. Pato O’Ward – 41 (+1 for lap led)
3. Felix Rosenqvist – 35
4. Scott McLaughlin – 32
5. Santino Ferrucci – 30
6. Will Power – 29 (+1 lap led)
7. Rinus VeeKay – 26
8. Marcus Ericsson – 24
9. Alex Palou – 23 (+1 lap led)
10. Josef Newgarden – 20
11. Scott Dixon – 19
12. Felipe Nasr – 18
13. Colton Herta – 17
14. Simon Pagenuad – 16
15. Alexander Rossi – 15
16. Jack Harvey – 14
17. Graham Rahal – 13
18. Dalton Kellett – 12
19. James Hinchcliffe – 11
20. Chaz Mostert – 10
21. Max Chilton – 9
22. Ed Carpenter – 8
23. Tony Kanaan – 7
24. Sebastien Bourdais – 6
25. Spencer Pigot – 5
26. Zach Veach – 5
27. Kyle Kaiser – 5
28. Oliver Askew – 5
29. Conor Daly – 5
30. Takuma Sato – 5
31. Ryan Hunter-Reay – 5
32. Robert Wickens – 5
33. Sage Karam – 5

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR STANDINGS

IndyCar’s Rookie of the Year Award is presented to the top finishing rookie in the series standings. Here are what the current standings would be for iRacing Challenge :

1. Scott McLaughlin – 161
2. Alex Palou – 94
3. Dalton Kellett – 75
4. Pato O’Ward – 74
5. Oliver Askew – 65
6. Felipe Nasr – 57
7. Lando Norris – 54
8. Scott Speed – 45
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr – 35
10. Rinus VeeKay – 33
11. Kyle Kirkwood – 32
11. Jimmie Johnson – 32
13. Kyle Busch – 17
14. Chaz Mostert – 10

For the driver’s championship, IndyCar tallies points based on each driver’s finishing position, with the most points being awarded for finishing first. Additional points can be earned for winning the pole position (one additional point), leading at least one lap (only one bonus point will be rewarded regardless of how many laps a driver leads), and leading the most laps (two additional points).

Here’s a breakdown of how points are earned based on finishing position:

 

The Thermal Club wants an IndyCar race, and series executives liked its initial impact at test

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THERMAL, Calif. – Many teams in the NTT IndyCar Series questioned the relevancy of having a two-day preseason test at The Thermal Club.

The team owners, drivers and engineers believed the 17-turn, 3.067-mile race course that winds and twists its way through a gated private community (about 45 minutes southeast of Palm Springs) had no relevance to any track on the 17-race schedule.

To the leaders of IndyCar, however, there was plenty of relevance to hosting its “Spring Training” at a sort of motorsports country club that caters to extremely wealthy residents who also are automotive enthusiasts.

“Both with our stakeholders and the media that covers IndyCar, we wanted them to know that we are going to do things differently,” Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles told NBC Sports from the private VIP viewing area that overlooks the long straights and twisting turns of the course. “This is going to be a year when we expect our growth to go to a whole new level.

“What better way to send that message than to be at a place we have never been that is exceptional?

“The quality of this place; the facilities are off the charts. The customer service, the welcoming feeling you get from the staff here. The track itself is fast. The drivers are having a great time on it.

FRIDAY SPEEDSThird session l Fourth session l Combined

‘AN AMAZING PLACE’: IndyCar and its big plans for Thermal

“It really sent a message to our other promoters and our drivers and team owners that something is up. We want fans around the country and the sports industry to know that something is going on with IndyCar this year.”

The Thermal Club is a concept driven by Tim Rogers, who made his fortune by supplying gasoline to 7-Eleven stores in 36 states. He wanted to create a private community that mixed multimillion-dollar homes and luxury villas with a high-speed race course.

The two-day IndyCar “Spring Training” was the most ambitious motorsports project yet for The Thermal Club.

Rogers wants it to be the first step in a long-term goal for the community.

“Our endgame is we want to host an IndyCar Series race at The Thermal Club one day,” Rogers told NBC Sports as IndyCar hit the track again Friday morning. “This was a good trial to see how the facility can handle it and if the facility works for them.”

Felix Rosenqvist makes laps in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Dallara-Chevrolet during the first day of NTT IndyCar Series testing (Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY Sports Images).

The two-day test was closed to the general public. It was open only to credentialed news media, members of the Thermal Club and a limited number of their guests.

With the spectacular backdrop of the Coachella Valley that is rimmed with snow-capped mountains, The Thermal Club could provide a great setting for an NBC telecast of an IndyCar Series race (and possibly line up a big sponsor for a return on its investment with a larger than normal audience during a ripe time such as the first weekend of February).

NASCAR is using that same model Sunday at the Los Angeles Coliseum by hosting the Busch Light Clash. The National Football League’s AFC and NFC Championship games were last weekend and next Sunday is the Super Bowl.

“That could work, but we have room where we could separate the public and the private members area, too,” Rogers said. “We could accommodate 4,000 or so of the general public.

“This would be a premium event for a premium crowd.”


Rogers’ dream of The Thermal Club began 11 years ago. He will talk to IndyCar about a return for Spring Training next year with hopes of getting a date on the schedule for 2025.

“Whatever fits,” Rogers said.

Miles and Penske Entertainment, the owners of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the Indianapolis 500, realize Rogers has an ambitious dream of getting a race on the schedule.

Miles, however, isn’t ready to indicate that a race at Thermal is part of IndyCar’s future (though drivers seem open to the concept).

“Tim and everybody at The Thermal Club have done a phenomenal job of being hosts here for this test,” Miles said. “Everybody is very happy we are here, and I expect we will find a way to continue to be here. Whether that means a race and when is really a bridge we aren’t ready to cross yet.

“We really like opening the championship season each year in St. Petersburg, Florida. We’ll have to see. But it’s a great way to start the season in this way, and right now, we are happy to be here.”

Indycar Series Test - Day 1
Defending IndyCar champion Will Power takes laps at The Thermal Club during the first day of the track’s first test (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

On track, it was a successful two-day test session with 27 car/driver combinations that will compete in IndyCar in 2023. It’s the largest field for IndyCar since the 1990s. There were a few spins here and there but no major incidents across 2,560 laps.

Kyle Kirkwood led the final session Friday while getting acquainted with his new No. 27 team at Andretti Autosport. Kirkwood has replaced Alexander Rossi at Andretti, whom Kirkwood drove for in Indy Lights.

His time of 1 minute, 38.827 seconds (111.721 mph) around the 3.067-mile road course was the fastest of the fourth and final session. But the fastest speed over two days was defending Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing in the Friday morning session (1:38.4228, 112.182 mph in the No. 8 Honda).

Callum Ilott of Juncos Hollinger Racing was second in the final session at 1:38.8404 (111.707 mph) in the No. 77 Chevrolet. Rookie Marcus Armstrong of New Zealand was third at 1:38.8049 (111.707 mph) in the No. 11 Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing. Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing was fourth at 1:38.8718 (111.672 mph) in the No. 10. Defending NTT IndyCar Series champion Will Power of Team Penske rounded out the top five at 1:38.9341 (111.602 mph) in the No. 12 Chevrolet.

Ericsson was the fastest in combined times followed by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard at 1:38.5682 in the No. 45 Honda, Kirkwood, Ilott and Armstrong. Positions 3-5 speeds were from the final practice session on Friday.

Indycar Series Test - Day 1
With members’ houses in the background, Romain Grosjean navigates the turns of The Thermal Club in his No. 28 Dallara-Honda (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

Drivers didn’t know what to expect before hitting the track. After the two-day test was over, NBC Sports asked several drivers what they learned from The Thermal Club.

“I think it’s a first-class facility, no doubt,” two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden of Team Penske said. “I think the entire facility here at Thermal really rolled out the red carpet for us. They did a tremendous job.

“It was a fairly flawless test, I would say, for two days. I think the great thing about this was we had a two-day test, which was fantastic. You got to have this warmup; this preseason build. That was the biggest positive for me, is that we were here, we were running cars. It was a great facility to do it at.

IndyCar Thermal Club test
Josef Newgarden said his No. 2 team (which has a new lead engineer) used The Thermal Club test as an opportunity for building cohesion (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).
Indycar Series Test - Day 2
Josef Newgarden (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

“I think the track was a lot more fun than we anticipated. It was challenging, definitely technical. I don’t know how relevant it is. For us, it wasn’t really relevant to anywhere we’re going, but that’s OK.”

But even though the track has no sector particularly similar to any road or street course on the schedule, there still were benefits.

“In a lot of ways, it is relevant,” Newgarden said. “For us it was relevant for building the team up, trying to work in a competitive environment, be competitive together. That’s everything. So regardless of is the setup going to apply to a certain track or another, (it) doesn’t really matter.

“For us, it was applying the principles of how we’re going to work together. From that standpoint, it was very productive for everybody. Raceability-wise, it’s hard to say. It was chewing tires up. Big drop-off from run one to two. I think from a race standpoint, that would be quite positive. You’d have big tire deg here.

“You’d have to do more work on runoff areas if we wanted to race here, but it’s possible. I don’t think it would take much effort to do the things to run an actual race.”


Indycar Series Test - Day 1
Will Power (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Kirkwood found speed in his Andretti Autosport machine, but he used the test to create a smooth working relationship with his new crew.

“I wouldn’t say that we found something here that is going to translate to anywhere, right?” the 2021 Indy Lights champion said. “This is a very unique track, although it was a lot of fun to drive, and it kind of surprised me in the amount of grip that it actually produced.

“It was quite a bit faster than what we expected.”

Many of the NTT IndyCar Series teams will test later this month at Sebring, Florida, as they prepare for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to kick off the season March 5.

“It’s a very nice facility, a nice area, it’s pretty cool to have two days of testing here with a lot of high-profile people,” two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Will Power of Team Penske told NBC Sports. “It’s a very technical, tough track.

“It’s pretty good.”

Indycar Series Test - Day 2
IndyCar drivers turns laps on the second day of testing at The Thermal Club, which is nestled in the Coachella Valley that is ringed by mountains in Southern California (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

The Thermal Club received rave reviews, welcomed IndyCar and provided exposure to the movers and shakers of the business community that own the luxury villas and homes in this ultra-rich community.

Could it be a venue of the future for a series that sells lifestyle as much as on-track competition?

“This is a fantastic facility and the circuit is a fast circuit,” team owner Bobby Rahal told NBC Sports. “It’s pretty exciting to watch the cars run around here. I think it would be attractive to people.

“I’ll leave that up to Mark Miles and (IndyCar President) Jay Frye and everybody else whether we have a race here, but why not?

“It’s a great place.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500