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(Photo: IndyCar Media)

Scott McLaughlin Wins IndyCar iRacing at Virtual Indianapolis

In one of the wildest finishes in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge Series, Scott McLaughlin came out on top to win the First Responder 175 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Saturday (May 2).

The Round 2 winner at virtual Barber Motorsports Park had some front-wing damage and knew his chances were slim on the final lap. He didn’t count on the leaders going three-wide, though. Marcus Ericsson went around Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew in turn 3 but was tagged by O’Ward coming out of turn 4. Then, in a controversial move just before the line, Santino Ferrucci turned into Askew, lifting him into the outside catchfence. Pole winner McLaughlin snuck past them and won the race.

“I was hoping there was going to be one wreck, and there was two,” McLaughlin told the IndyCar on NBC broadcast. “I thought we were going to get third. We were in the right place at the right time.”

Conor Daly, who switched to Carlin Racing for just this IndyCar iRacing event, finished second behind McLaughlin.

“Quite a day on the internet today,” Daly said after the event. “It was an electric factory of a race, I think our strategy was awesome and hilarious at the same time because I think we were involved in three different accidents. It was fun, what a day!”

Ferrucci finished third, Askew crossed the line fourth and O’Ward rounded out the top five.

After the race, Ferrucci apologized and took the blame for the wild incident that scrambled the final running order.

“It was a long race,” Ferrucci said. “We came from the back, did really well with strategies there and had to do a lot of fuel-saving. Coming to the line, I was just trying to get really close to [Askew]. I don’t know why but I went through him trying to get close to him, trying to steer a little closer to him because I knew the drag race would be tight. I just didn’t expect the cars to go sideways.”

Sebastien Bourdais came in sixth, while Ryan Hunter-Reay took seventh place. Zach Veach, Felix Rosenqvist and Scott Dixon completed spots eight through 10.

The race began relatively clean, considering how past oval events in this series began. However, soon after on lap 5 the caution flag waved for an incident involving Tony Kanaan and Jack Harvey. Alex Palou attempted to get inside Sage Karam and Lando Norris on the frontstretch, which boggled up the inside line going into the turn. Harvey ended up tumbling after contact with Kanaan, and Kanaan’s day was done as a result.

The race went back to green on lap 9 and stayed caution free until about 30 laps to go. Just prior to the caution coming out, Karam — Round 1 victor at Watkins Glen International — locked the brakes and spun while on pit road. His front wing and suspension was damaged, putting him out of contention for the victory.

Soon after, the yellow flag came out for this incident. James Davison, Stefan Wilson and Scott Speed were racing together when Speed clipped Wilson. Davison and Wilson were sent spinning and wrecking into the inside wall as a result.

The race went back to green with 14 laps to go but was quickly halted one lap later when a major wreck occurred, featuring a flying Karam. Josef Newgarden, RC Enerson and Palou were among several drivers also involved in this melee.

After the race restarted with eight laps remaining, 2019 Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud, Graham Rahal and Norris were fighting for the lead when Rahal tagged him coming off turn 2. Pagenaud’s hopes for a virtual Indy title were done when he spun and crashed into the wall.

The race stayed green the rest of the way, even after Norris crashed out a few laps later, before the epic last-lap crash.

In the end, McLaughlin took advantage of all the spins and wrecks to win his second virtual IndyCar event.

IndyCar iRacing FIRST RESPONDER 175 RESULTS

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge was scheduled as a reprieve for fans from the COVID-19 pandemic. INDYCAR will make a donation to one of its partner charities after the event; they did not crown a series champion for the half-dozen races.

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About Joy Tomlinson

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