Field Looks To Stop Karam In IndyCar iRacing Challenge

Karam Controls IndyCar iRacing
Sage Karam celebrates with a burnout after winning last Saturday's IndyCar iRacing Challenge event at Watkins Glen Int'l. (Justin Melillo photo)

INDIANAPOLIS – Who can stop Sage Karam?

That’s the big question Saturday, April 4 as the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, a virtual racing event featuring a full field of NTT IndyCar Series drivers, continues at 2:30 p.m. (ET) with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst at virtual Barber Motorsports Park.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver Sage Karam won the pole and led 43 of 45 laps Saturday, March 28 in the No. 24 DRR Wix Filters Chevrolet to win the inaugural event of the virtual racing series, the American Red Cross Grand Prix at Watkins Glen Int’l. Karam beat runner-up Felix Rosenqvist of Chip Ganassi Racing to the finish by 3.6174 seconds, with Will Power of Team Penske placing third.

There will be an exciting new addition to the second round of the series Saturday: a live broadcast on NBCSN, including the NBC broadcasting team of Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.

Karam will lead a growing field of 29 drivers in the race Saturday, up from 25 drivers for the opener. New additions include 2018 NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Robert Wickens, five-time series champion Scott Dixon, three-time Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge pole winner Ed Carpenter and Jack Harvey.

The entry list represents 15 different teams or organizations competing in the NTT IndyCar Series and a field of drivers that has amassed 189 NTT IndyCar Series victories and 14 series championships. Dixon will boost a lineup of series champions that includes Team Penske teammates Josef Newgarden, Power and Simon Pagenaud, along with Sebastien Bourdais and Tony Kanaan of A.J. Foyt Racing.

Other NTT IndyCar Series race winners entered in the race Saturday include Graham Rahal, Alexander Rossi, James Hinchcliffe and Colton Herta.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson also will continue his exploration of the NTT IndyCar Series by racing in round two. He placed 16th after starting 19th last Saturday in his virtual IndyCar debut at Watkins Glen, running at the finish.

The field will race for 45 laps over a virtual version of the rolling, challenging 2.38-mile road course at Barber, located in Birmingham, Alabama. The circuit was scheduled to host the second event of the NTT IndyCar Series season Sunday, April 5, but the event weekend was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

All drivers will work with an additional competitive element Saturday, a planned competition caution period that will bunch the field after the round of pit stops is completed, sometime between laps 28 and 31, and will consist of three laps. A single-file restart will follow this caution period.

The event, which will last approximately 60 minutes, will be televised live on NBCSN and will be streamed through for fans to enjoy the virtual action. The event also will be available on INDYCAR’s YouTube and Facebook as well as iRacing’s Twitch.

The starting lineup will be set through a 10-minute qualifying session prior to the event. In the interest of fairness, iRacing will give all participants the same car setups.