The IndyCar iRacing Challenge looks set to get wilder during Round 3 on Saturday, April 11. That’s because the virtual racing series featuring stars of the NTT IndyCar Series and some invited guests is moving to an oval track — the super-fast, wide, 2-mile Michigan International Speedway. The Chevrolet 275, an 85-lap race around the virtual MIS on the iRacing Esports platform, starts at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday and airs live on NBCSN
Drivers in the six-round virtual series, which runs every Saturday through May 2, use identical car setups provided by iRacing. At Michigan, that will place a premium on slipstreaming in packs for position and managing tire wear as fuel loads drop.
Among new additions to the field this week is NASCAR veteran Dale Earnhardt Jr., making his virtual IndyCar debut in a No. 3 entry running in the colors of Nationwide Insurance (pictured above alongside Josef Newgarden’s No. 1 Team Penske entry). Also joining the series for the first time this week in the virtual equivalents of their regular IndyCar rides are Marco Andretti in the No. 98 U.S. Concrete/Curb car and Ryan Hunter-Reay in his No. 28 DHL car, along with Carlin Racing’s Max Chilton and James Davison in a No. 33 entry attributed to Byrd/Petry/Belardi.
The newcomers will make for a 31-car field, the largest field yet for the IndyCar iRacing Challenge.
The fuel window for this race is expected to be approximately 37 green flag laps, slightly less than half of the race distance. So, depending on the number of caution periods, drivers and their team strategists could decide on two stops for service or try to stretch fuel to finish the race on one stop, creating even more strategic elements. There will be no competition caution to bunch the field Saturday, unlike Round 2 at Barber Motorsports Park.
The starting line-up will be set through a 10-minute qualifying session prior to the event.