By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Simon Pagenaud won the virtual Chevrolet 275 on Saturday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. He had the best fuel strategy to hold off the field for the win.
Since the IndyCar field has ventured into iRacing three weeks ago due to the coronavirus pandemic, this is Pagenaud’s best finish in the six-week series. He previously had 4th and 5th place finishes in the first two events.
While this is Pagenaud’s first virtual win, he is a multi-time winner in the IndyCar series. He won three events in 2019 — and has 14 wins since his debut in 2011.
“All credit to [strategist] Ben Bretzman and my virtual team behind me,” Pagenaud said. “We worked hard to understand this kind of racing. It’s a pleasure to bring the DXC car into Victory Lane this year. We were just saving fuel, trying to stay out of trouble.
“At the start of the race, everybody piled up (in a crash). We were trying to avoid it. We didn’t have the pace in qualifying. We qualified toward the back and decided to use option B, which was saving fuel and conserve tires.”
Scott McLaughlin had a difficult situation, despite his second-place finish. McLaughlin — who lives in Australia — had to get up around 3 am Australian time to compete in the race.
This was his second-straight podium, as he won the virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama last Saturday.
in his IndyCar iRacing debut, Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the podium with his third-place finish.
“It was a lot of fun,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “We got a little damage in that wreck on the front straightaway at the start of the race. I had a real bad push in the car, so I couldn’t really run with the lead pack. A lot of those guys were really ticked off about how the strategy worked out for them with that wreck on the front straightaway to start.
“It took a bunch of guys down pit road and put a bunch of us in fuel-milage mode. The fastest cars didn’t win, the best sim racer [on Saturday] probably didn’t win, but this is the closest I’ll probably get to the real thing. That’s why I like it.”
Pagenaud led just five laps to get the win. He was one of two drivers, who led just five laps in the race, with Marcus Ericsson being the other.
Sage Karam, the Nazareth, Pennsylvania driver, led the most laps, as he led six times for 49 laps. Will Power also led six times; however, he led just 13 laps.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alex Palou, Alexander Rossi, Zach Veach, and Felipe Nasr also led throughout the race.
There was only one caution in the race, which happened early on between lap 1-5, involving several cars in the front stretch.