Karam the victor in opening INDYCAR iRacing Challenge round at Watkins Glen

By: Tanner Watkins
March 28, 2020 | 5:00 PM

In the first INDYCAR-sanctioned iRacing event of 2020, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver Sage Karam dominated to win the American Red Cross Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International on Sunday.

Karam, who led 43 of the 45 laps, bested Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist by 3.618 seconds. Team Penske’s Will Power rounded out the podium, finishing 11.416 seconds back of Karam.

The 25-car field opened the race with a slew of stars – all but a few of them were IndyCar regulars – though there was a bit of trouble early on.

James Hinchcliffe missed the race due to connectivity issues, and both Sebastien Bourdais and Tony Kanaan were involved in Lap 1 incidents.

Admitted sim racing newcomer Alexander Rossi’s race was shunted just a couple of laps later when he, Zach Veach, and Marcus Ericsson tangled entering the bus stop at Watkins Glen – though the accidents would calm as the race progressed.

As the laps wore down, the sim racing veterans made their climb to the top of the scoring pylon. The top four finishers – Karam, Rosenqvist, Power, and SuperCars champion Scott McLaughlin – are all recent regulars on the iRacing service.

In the closing stages of the race, Rosenqvist tried desperately to reel in Karam while lapped traffic kept things interesting, but the only danger to the Pennsylvania native’s victory chances were near-crashes with backmarkers.

With just a couple of laps remaining in the race, Karam was nearly collected in a self-spin accident with Kyle Kirkwood in Turn 10. Fortunately for Karam, Kirkwood’s car slid just off the racing line as the No. 24 Chevrolet arrived.

INDYCAR Challenge race results from Watkins Glen.

Today’s event – which was broadcast live on IndyCar.com – is the first of a multi-week series that will see IndyCar stars battle it out on iRacing each Saturday at 4:00 PM Eastern.

Next week’s race will be held from the virtual Barber Motorsports Park, with perhaps more drivers and surprises around the corner on the entry list.

Make sure to check out the 2020 Open-Wheels 500 Mile Race, to be held this November! The Open-Wheels 500 is the premier 500-mile race held on iRacing, featuring all the traditions and competition found each May in Indianapolis.

Header image by Tanner Watkins/Open-Wheels.com.

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