For the fourth round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge, a record field of 33 professional drivers will take on the virtual Twin Ring Motegi oval from the comfort of their living rooms.
Many of the drivers competing this weekend are familiar with the course, with IndyCar having visited the track in Tochigi Prefecture consistently for 14 years from 1998 through 2011. The circuit, which consists of both a road course and an oval, was built by Honda in the late nineties in an effort to help bring IndyCar to Japan and further promote their racing programs.
The field of drivers for the virtual challenge series is growing larger by the week, with Helio Castroneves, Takuma Sato, and Rinus VeeKay all trying their hand at virtual IndyCar racing for the first time. Castroneves has taken victory at the asymmetric oval twice and is the most recent winner, aside from 2011 when Scott Dixon took victory on Motegi’s road course due to earthquake damage on the oval.
“I feel like I have the edge for this weekend,” said Castroneves. “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.
“I also could not be more excited to be back in the virtual Pennzoil Chevy also known as the ‘Yellow Submarine.’ I’m excited to be back representing our great partners and our wonderful team.”
Kyle Busch also continues the trend of guest drivers from NASCAR hopping into a virtual IndyCar for the first time. The reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion has never made a secret of his desire to compete whenever he can, often racing in NASCAR’s feeder series even while racing in the top class, and taking part in this year’s 24 Hours of Daytona.
皇冠体育投注Busch, who just started practicing for the event on Thursday and will be running with sponsorship from his own energy drink company Rowdy Energy, will look to match the successes of Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr, who each held their own among a field of IndyCar regulars over the past few weeks. Earnhardt Jr. even managed to employ pit strategy in his favor to come away with a podium finish at last week’s contest at Michigan, so all is to play for Busch in his IndyCar debut.
皇冠体育投注As the iRacing Challenge series gets more traction, the series works closely with NBC Sports to produce full-featured television coverage, and the start of on-track action gets further and further delayed, drivers and sponsors are taking the virtual races more and more seriously. Multiple drivers have announced special sponsorship deals with new and existing partners for this weekend’s race.
皇冠体育投注One driver with a different paint scheme is Tony Kanaan, who will be running his classic green and white 7-Eleven livery this weekend. Kanaan had been running this year’s virtual races with ABC Supply colors up to this point. The veteran, who would be competing in his final IndyCar season this year, had already made plans to run with many of his classic sponsors throughout the season before it was pared down, and is now updating those agreements to include different promotions throughout the virtual racing series as well.
Kanaan, Castroneves, and other former Motegi winners will see if they can beat out this year’s iRacing Challenge winners Sage Karam, Scott McLaughlin, and Simon Pagenaud on the 1.549-mile asymmetric oval at Twin Ring Motegi this Saturday at 14:30 Eastern Time.
The race will be broadcast live on NBCSN and Sky Sports F1 with commentating provided by Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell, Paul Tracy, and Marty Snider.