Pagenaud climbs from rear of field to win virtual Chevrolet 275 at Michigan; Daly 13th
Simon Pagenaud used a combination of smarts, speed and strategy to win Round 3 of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge on Saturday, the Chevrolet 275 at Michigan International Speedway. Car #20 Conor Daly finished 13th for the US Air Force/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.
Reigning Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Pagenaud beat Team Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin by 13.409 seconds – a deceptively large margin in a thrilling race that featured nine leaders and 18 lead changes. It was his first victory in the virtual racing series, in which NTT INDYCAR SERIES athletes and special guests compete in the iRacing computer racing simulation.
Pagenaud pitted later than the early lead group and stretched the fuel in his No. 22 DXC Team Penske Chevrolet to the finish, making only one pit stop in the 85-lap race.
2016 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Pagenaud averaged 189.463 mph for victory after starting 22nd in the 31-car field. The Chevrolet 275 was slowed by only one caution period due to a multi-car crash on the front straightaway as the field took the green flag to start the race. That pileup shifted race strategists’ minds into overdrive, trying to figure the best fuel strategy.
Commenting before the virtual experience Conor said: “I’m really excited to get back to oval racing in an Indy car – or a virtual Indy car, that is! Michigan is going to be a lot of fun. Even the practice laps with the INDYCAR Challenge league have been entertaining. It looks like the cars are going to race well there. It may be tough for people to get their heads in the game and there’s the potential for stupidity, but that’s the hilarious part of sim racing! Hopefully, we can put on a good show for the U.S. Air Force and all the people at Ed Carpenter Racing.”