Sage Karam dominates IndyCar iRacing Challenge at The Glen

Photo by Justin Mellilo / The Racing Experts / iRacing

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

The first NTT IndyCar Series iRacing event, the American Red Cross Grand Prix at the virtual Watkins Glen International was dominated by Sage Karam.

Karam started from the pole in the No. 24 Wix Filters/Mecum Auctions Chevrolet. The Dreyer and Reinbold Racing driver jumped to over a one second ahead of Felix Rosenqvist at the start. Karam increased his lead to two seconds before it stabilized.

At that point, Karam used two rounds of green flag pit stops to increase his lead. First to three seconds, and then to just under four seconds. Lapped traffic, especially in the form of Santino Ferrucci, was the only challenge that the veteran iRacer faced.

Ferrucci fought hard to keep his No. 18 Seal Master/Sports Clips/GEICO Honda on the lead lap. The move cost Karam just over four tenths over Rosenqvist with under five laps to go. The DRR driver took it in stride as he increased his lead over Rosenqvist to 3.618 seconds by the checkered flag.

The 25-year-old from Nazareth, PA’s main concern was that the fans enjoyed the event:

“Man, I wish this was the real thing, but I’ll take this for now. Hopefully this can lead to something. I just really hope the fans enjoyed it and the sponsors are happy about it. It was a good show because we had a lot of fun with it and I’m already excited for the next one.

“It was a dominant performance for sure. I’m happy that I got the win for Wix and Dreyer and Reinbold Racing. The car looks pretty good up front. Hopefully when we get back to real racing we can replicate what we did today.”

Will Power, the only other driver to lead a lap, and the only Team Penske driver to finish without incident took the checkered flag in the final podium position. Scott McLaughlin was fourth despite an accident and a fuel miscue. Oliver Askew rounded out the top-five.

Two major accidents changed the complexion of the race for those mid-pack. On lap one, Alexander Rossi slammed into the inside wall entering the bus stop. He collected several other cars in the process.

On lap seven, contact between McLaughlin and Askew collected Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud. While the defending SuperCars Champion continued relatively undamaged, the other three were forced to use one of their two quick repairs.

In addition to McLaughlin and Askew’s recoveries, Pagenaud rebounded to finish sixth with Newgarden seventh.

NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson also took part in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. In his first virtual IndyCar race, Johnson had one incident, spinning into the wall exiting the bus stop late in the race. He took the checkered flag in 16th.

IndyCar was the latest sanctioning body to sanction an iRacing event, the IndyCar iRacing Challenge, due to postponements as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational debuted last week with the World of Outlaws, WEC, and others debuting throughout the week.

The next race for the IndyCar iRacing Challenge is at the virtual Barber Motorsports Park.

The Finish

Sage Karam, Felix Rosenqvist, Will Power, Scott McLaughlin, Oliver Askew, Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden, Santino Ferrucci, Kyle Kirkwood, Conor Daly, Dalton Kellett, Kyle Kaiser, Patricio O’Ward, Graham Rahal, Felipe Nasr, Jimmie Johnson, Alexander Rossi, Marcus Ericsson, Zack Veach, Alex Palou, Scott Speed, Colton Herta, Sebastien Bourdais, Tony Kanaan, James Hinchcliffe.

Lead Changes: Four among two drivers

Lap Leaders: Sage Karam 1-15, Will Power 16, Sage Karam 17-31, Will Power 32, Sage Karam 33-45.

Laps Led: Sage Karam 43, Will Power 2.

Cautions: None for 0 laps.

Margin of Victory: 3.618 seconds

Average Speed: 139.430 mph

Fastest Lap: #12 – Will Power, 1:25.623 (142.952 mph).

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