Pagenaud defeats Penske teammates to win another virtual race


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A second consecutive virtual race victory for Simon Pagenaud and Team Penske, and the temperament was hot at the end of it.

Pagenaud, the reigning Indianapolis 500 winner, competed in his wetsuit and captured the IndyCar race on Saturday in a simulated Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. A frantic 10-lap final decided on the iRacing event.

Essentially, Penske pilots Will Power and Scott McLaughlin each ran her for the head – and possibly the win – when they ran into Oliver Askew’s lapped car which caused Power to hit McLaughlin’s car.

McLaughlin, the Australian V8 SuperCars champion and winner of the virtual race three weeks ago at Barber Motorsports Park, was sent into the wall and out of dispute.

McLaughlin was livid and actively trying to calm down on his simulator in Brisbane, where he woke up at 2 a.m. to prepare for the series.

“It’s a video game, it’s a video game,” said McLaughlin. “I know it’s a game, but I’m still (crazy). “

Power sent an angry text to Askew and then shared the content in a Zoom Runners Podium videoconference.

“I had three signs of clapping …” the two leaders pulled out a few laps from the finish. A huge disrespect for the drivers who worked hard to be there in the race for victory in the end, which you will be at some point, ”said Power. “This is what I sent to Askew. “

Pagenaud then ran Power behind the wheel and the cars seemed to touch before Pagenaud took the lead. He still had to postpone Scott Dixon’s last lap attempt to overtake him for the win.

“It was very hectic with Will at one point, then Dixon at the end,” said Pagenuad. “I work hard all week to be competitive and I think I can do it. “

Pagenaud also won last week at the Michigan International Virtual Speedway, and with McLaughlin’s victory, the Penske drivers won three of the four IndyCar iRaces.

The Frenchman says he spends about five hours a day practicing on his simulator

“It has taken me a lot of hours to keep up with people like Will, for example. They are very fast on iRacing, very competitive, “said Pagenaud. “In the end, it got a little crazy. What’s fun for me is that you are running exactly the same guys as usual, exactly the same movements as you would in real life. You keep spinning your wheels in your head.

“Right now, we don’t run, so we run on weekends. It gives me a lot of joy. Adrenaline was definitely at the maximum level at the end of the race. “

Pagenaud slowed down after taking the checkered flag and Dixon ran into the back of his car – contact who sent him to spin in Helio Castroneves’ lapped car. Dixon and Castroneves almost flew away after arrival.

“I was running there for a spectacular finish. I didn’t know it was the last round. I thought we were still racing, man, “said Dixon, the five-time IndyCar champion who entered the iRacing series in his second race when it became clear how beneficial it is for sponsors during the stoppage .

“It’s great for our sponsors. PNC Bank was very interested in how this program would unfold. Well done of course to the NTT IndyCar series and iRacing – iRacing has so much to do at the moment with so many different series. Honestly, it went very well from their point of view. ”

Dixon finished second, Power finished third and Marcus Ericsson, Dixon’s new teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing, finished fourth.

iRacing has become a success for IndyCar, NASCAR, IMSA and even some Formula One competitors who have participated in events that can be found on TV or streaming every day of the week. But NASCAR hit a few speed bumps in the first month, and Kyle Larson this week was fired by Ganassi for using a racial slur during a race. Bubba Wallace lost a sponsor for “rage to quit” the game, and there was an uproar this week when lesser-known drivers were kicked out of NASCAR on Sunday in an effort to have a cleaner race on TV national.

IndyCar raced at the Virtual Twin Ring Motegi, a track the series last visited in 2011, but was selected by a fan vote because the circuit for the fourth round in the iRacing series began when sports were first introduced. arrested due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kyle Busch, who made no secret of his desire to race in the Indianapolis 500, its IndyCar debut practically via a league invitation to the reigning NASCAR double champion. Busch finished 13th – better than any finish to date in NASCAR virtual racing. He is a newcomer to iRacing but is rapidly improving his simulator.

Busch was joined by newcomers Castroneves, three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, and Takuma Sato, also winner of the Indianapolis 500, as the peloton included 33 top-of-the-line drivers.

Broadcast on NBC Sports, analyst Paul Tracy caused virtual laughter when Sato dived and Tracy noted the crowded stands.

“Look at all the fans in the stands. They’re here to watch Sato, ”snapped Tracy.

Robert Wickens started on the post after qualifying s and James Hinchcliffe’s iRacing difficulties continued when technical difficulties put him out of the race for another race despite the fact that he had spent many hours on his simulator.

“A little problem kicked me out of today’s race! He posted on Twitter. “Super disappointed because the training went well and we thought we could have had a good one. Use my new free time to really go out. See the sun. Breathe the fresh air. ”


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