McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris overcame a costly spin and a pop-up window on his computer screen to storm back to victory in a stunning IndyCar iRacing Challenge debut at the Circuit of the Americas, in a team 1-2.
Norris scored pole by over three tenths and was completely comfortable in the first stint of the race, giving shout-outs to his Twitch followers and he even overcame a pop-up window on lap six to build a lead over three seconds.
He decided to pit one lap before the enforced caution period on lap 12, dropping back to sixth, although he knew he would need to stop again because he didn’t take on enough fuel during that first stop. “I need to get past them,” said Norris. “It’s a race!”
Will Power and Felix Rosenqvist stayed out until the caution from second and third, Rosenqvist always a factor on the iRacing road courses, while Power hasn’t finished outside of the top five in the five races prior.
But the race took on more interest when Norris made up two spots after the caution – and then spun at the last corner, dropping to 12th.
“I’m such an idiot,” he said. “No reason to do that.”
“Karma for talking too much on [Twitch] chat.”
Power looked to be the man to beat thereafter, but just a few laps later he spun on his out-lap, making it even more difficult to identify the favourite with varying strategies ongoing as Pato O’Ward led Scott McLaughlin and Norris with 12 laps to go.
McLaughlin pitted on lap 22, making it an O’Ward and Norris McLaren 1-2.
Norris’s F1 race engineer Andrew Jarvis said he should “do the opposite” to O’Ward, so Norris pitted with eight to go.
After Norris’s second stop he came out behind the one-stopping Rosenqvist, and began an attempt to hunt down the Swedish driver.
— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) April 25, 2020
O’Ward pitted with six to go to hand the lead to early spinner Alex Palou, who pitted with four to go.
Just after, Norris reached the back of Rosenqvist, who spun at the esses under pressure from Norris to hand the F1 driver the lead.
Thanks to that spin, O’Ward stormed past Rosenqvist to make it a one-two. He hunted down Norris and had more push to pass, but Norris held on to take victory in a bizarre, frenetic but fantastic race.
“You didn’t make it easy,” Jarvis told Norris.
HE’S ONLY GONE AND WON IT!
— #L4NDO (@TeamL4NDO) April 25, 2020
Behind O’Ward, Rosenqvist just held on to take third and another podium on a road course in the series after second at the opening round at Watkins Glen.
The last road course winner, McLaughlin at Barber Motorsports Park, took another top five in fourth, ahead of Santino Ferrucci and Will Power.
Rinus VeeKay was seventh on his roadcourse debut with ex-F1 driver Marcus Ericsson scoring another strong result in the series in eighth, ahead of Palou.
Josef Newgarden rounded out the top 10.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) April 25, 2020
The circuit for last round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge is to be chosen by drivers, and they have elected to return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The series has not announced if that will be on the road course or the oval, home of the Indianapolis 500.