The stars of the NTT IndyCar Series will be back on track tomorrow, driving virtually. There are 25 drivers on the entry list for the American Red Cross Grand Prix, which is the first race of the inaugural IndyCar iRacing Challenge. Most of this year’s field will participate, along with driving talent from other forms of motorsport.
The American Red Cross Grand Prix will take place on Watkins Glen International road course. Fans voted on the venue for the first race, which narrowly edged out Michigan International Speedway. There will be a 10-minute qualifying session to set the field before the green flag flies for the 45-lap race on Saturday. The event will be streamed on IndyCar’s YouTube and Facebook pages, as well as iRacing’s Twitch channel with commentary from NBC’s Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell, and Paul Tracy.
To level the playing field, iRacing will give all participants the same car setup. Teams had the ability to design the car livery they wanted, in order to make them more recognizable to viewers and to appease their real-life sponsors in the series.
There are 15 IndyCar teams represented in the race, with a field of drivers that have combined to win 140 IndyCar races and nine championships.
Some major names outside of IndyCar will be participating this weekend, including seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. The Californian was supposed to test at Barber on April 6 with Arrow McLaren SP, but those plans have been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson will be driving the No. 48 Chevrolet on Saturday.
Scott McLaughlin is expected to make his IndyCar debut sometime this season, most likely at the rescheduled IndyCar Grand Prix on the IMS road course on July 4. The Team Penske driver will be in a fourth car alongside Josef Newgarden, Will Power, and Simon Pagenaud. Kyle Kaiser is entered in the No. 11 Juncos Racing Chevrolet.
Andretti Autosport will be well represented, with full-time drivers Alexander Rossi and Zach Veach participating. James Hinchcliffe will be in the race with his No. 29 Genysys Honda, which was revealed this week. Young phenom Kyle Kirkwood will drive Ryan Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 DHL car. Scott Speed will be driving Marco Andretti’s No. 98 Honda machine.
Sage Karam won an iRacing event at Watkins Glen last week, and will be one of the favorites in the field. Power, McLaughlin, and Speed are also considered to be the favorites going into the event. Tony Kanaan, Sebastien Bourdais, and Dalton Kellett are all sharing the No. 14 AJ Foyt Chevrolet this season, but each driver will have their own car for this race.
Saturday’s event is the first in a six-race series that will be held every Saturdays through May 2. The next virtual race will be Barber Motorsports Park on April 4. The April 11 race will be a “Driver’s Choice” track and a “Random Draw” track will be done for the April 18 event. Circuit of The Americas will host the penultimate race on April 25 and a non-IndyCar “Dream” track will hold the final race of the series. The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will not crown an overall champion, but it will make a donation to one of its partner charities.