The phrase “To finish first, you must first finish” was evident in Saturday’s iRacing INDYCAR Challenge at eCircuit of the Americas, as Lando Norris claimed victory ahead of others who, like him, had spun out in the race.
The 2019 F1 rookie started on the pole and led 14 laps, including the opening 11 laps and closing three laps, but it wasn’t smooth sailing in his first iRacing INDYCAR Challenge race. Norris pitted on Lap 11, as a part of his team’s planned two-stop strategy, but then spun on the restart after a Lap 12 competition caution.
Will Power had taken the lead from Norris on Lap 12 and pitted on Lap 18, but spun on his out-lap. The spin gave control of the race to Norris’s McLaren teammate, Pato O’Ward. O’Ward ran a clean race and led until five laps to go when he pitted for the second and final time of the race.
The lead cycled around to Felix Rosenqvist who, like Power, ran a one-stop race, but Rosenqvist wouldn’t hold it for long. Rosenqvist spun with four to go, which dropped him back to third, giving way to a McLaren 1-2 with Norris and O’Ward.
With three to go, O’Ward appeared to have an advantage over Norris, given his four push-to-passes topped Norris’s one push-to-pass. However, Norris was able to execute three perfect laps and earned his first iRacing INDYCAR Challenge win, besting O’Ward by just over a second at eCircuit of the Americas.
The full top 10 finishers were as follows: Lando Norris, Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist, Scott McLaughlin, Santino Ferrucci, Will Power, Rinus Veekay, Marcus Ericsson, Alex Palou, Josef Newgarden.
The race’s lap leaders were as follows: Lando Norris (led 14 laps), Pato O’Ward (led 10 laps), Will Power (led 7 laps) and Felix Rosenqvist (led 1 lap).
The only major incident of the race came early on when multiple drivers, including Robert Wickens, spun in turn 1. However, no full-course caution was thrown for the incident and the Lap 12 competition caution would be the lone full-course caution of the race.
Next week, the iRacing IndyCar Challenge heads to virtual Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a 75-lap, 175-mile race around the historic 2.5-mile speedway. Coverage begins at 2:30pm EST on NBCSN.