The second race of the INDYCAR Challenge on iRacing saw another caution-free battle in as many races, this time won by Sage Karam.
Karam utilised a single pit stop strategy to win at Homestead-Miami Speedway, his second career INDYCAR Challenge victory having also won at Watkins Glen International to open the series last season.
“That was crazy,” Karam said. “Literally saving from the beginning and we saved enough fuel to do donuts.”
Enzo Fittipaldi was the dominant driver all race, but was forced to pit a second time. Most drivers made that second pit stop, with only a handful of drivers opting to try for a single stop from the start.
Through it all, there were six lead changes among three drivers, with Fittipaldi leading the most laps from the pole position.
IT ALL CAME DOWN TO FUEL SAVING
iRacing allows drivers to fiddle with engine mapping settings as well as weight jacker adjustments during Dallara-IR18 events that have a fixed setup. Knowing this, some drivers were able to implement fuel strategy from the beginning, sacrificing straight-line speed for extra fuel mileage, and that was the difference for Karam.
Karam exited the pits on his lap 53 and having fresher tires, one would have thought that he was waiting late to pit in order to use the newer rubber in the latter stages. With his lap times still slower than Fittipaldi’s, however, Karam was still losing a couple of tenths per lap, which seemed off until realising his fuel-saving strategy.
With under 20 laps to go, both Fittipaldi and RC Enerson took their second pit stops, and that handed the lead over to Karam for the final time. Fittipaldi was quick enough to be within half a lap to the eventual winner, but speed didn’t win on Thursday night.
CAUTION FREE, BUT NOT WITHOUT INCIDENT
During the drivers meeting, drivers were informed that cautions would be manually thrown by iRacing officials, and that smaller incidents wouldn’t trigger any slowdowns. As a result, the race went flag to flag without any yellows, but there were a few incidents that caused drivers to fall out of contention.
Felix Rosenqvist got loose on lap 10, sliding off of the final corner in front of last week’s winner Alex Palou. Palou attempted to avoid while maintaining speed but was unsuccessful, and the two made contact. The result for both was a trip to the pits and the loss of laps. Palou fought back to finish 10th while Rosenqvist struggled home to a 15th place effort.
Ed Jones, Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball all had hard contact with the wall and ended up losing laps limping their broken suspensions back to the pits for a fast repair. The iRacing Dallara-IR18 utilizes the “New Damage Model”, which makes wall contact as detrimental as it is in real life.
NTT INDYCAR Series champion Will Power had his slew of troubles through the race. He vocally pleaded for some sort of caution at times to keep the race from being completely boring, but his pleas were ignored.
At least he didn’t get his chat removed again…
INDYCAR CHALLENGE FINALE TO BE AT SEBRING
The INDYCAR Challenge wraps up next week at the virtual Sebring International Raceway. A fan vote between Sebring and Kentucky Speedway swung in favour of the 3.74-mile road course.
In the real world, IMSA just wrapped up their 12 hours at Sebring this past weekend. IMSA will also have their iRacing invitational series return next month on 8th April, and will also compete at the virtual Sebring to kick off their series. A fitting transition.
RACE 2 – HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY RESULTS
- 98 Sage Karam – Andretti Autosport 100 LAPS
- 20 Conor Daly – Ed Carpenter Racing +15.327
- 52 Enzo Fittipaldi – Dale Coyne Racing w/RWR +16.847
- 30 Takuma Sato – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing +17.641
- 17 Braden Eves – Road to Indy +20.856
- 21 Ed Carpenter -Ed Carpenter Racing +22.051
- 8 Marcus Ericsson – Chip Ganassi Racing +34.664
- 59 Max Chilton – Carlin +1 LAP
- 75 RC Enerson – Top Gun Racing +1 LAP
- 10 Alex Palou – Chip Ganassi Racing +1 LAP
- 53 James Davison – Dale Coyne Racing w/RWR +1 LAP
- 4 Dalton Kellett – A.J. Foyt Enterprises +1 LAP
- 12 Will Power – Team Penske +2 LAPS
- 22 Simon Pagenaud – Team Penske +2 LAPS
- 7 Felix Rosenqvist – Arrow McLaren SP +3 LAPS
- 18 Ed Jones – Dale Coyne Racing w/Vasser Sullivan +3 LAPS
- 48 Tony Kanaan – Chip Ganassi Racing +4 LAPS
- 11 Charlie Kimball – A.J. Foyt Enterprises +17 LAPS