A second straight victory in virtual racing for Simon Pagenaud and Team Penske, and tempers were hot at the end of this one. Pagenaud, the reigning Indianapolis 500 winner, competed in his firesuit and captured IndyCar's race Saturday on a simulated Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. A frantic final 10 laps decided the iRacing event. Essentially, Penske drivers Will Power and Scott McLaughlin were racing each other for the lead -- and probably the win -- when they came upon the lapped car of Oliver Askew that caused Power to touch McLaughlin's car. McLaughlin, the Australian V8 SuperCars champion and winner of the virtual race three weeks ago at Barber Motorsports Park, was sent spinning into the wall and out of contention.
Quarantine Routine is a regular feature that asks political, business, sports and entertainment power brokers how their daily lives have changed -- and how they're still doing their jobs -- during the coronavirus crisis. The Team Penske driver has won two of the four virtual IndyCar iRacing Challenge series events that have been held so far this year to keep fans entertained while real racing is suspended due to the coronavirus. He's also featured in the new Quibi show "Iron Sharpens Iron" that was filmed before the pandemic and pairs world-class athletes from different disciplines as they share their training routines with each other. In it, Pagenaud shows pro skateboarder Nyjah Huston how to go really fast on four wheels in a Corvette. The IndyCar series won't be back on track until at least June 6, and the Frenchman will have to wait until Aug. 23 to defend his Indy 500 title, after that race was postponed from its traditional Memorial Day weekend slot.
Simon Pagenaud knew a win for Roger Penske was overdue, and he finally got one at Long Beach. Pagenaud, who entered Sunday's 42nd Toyota Grand Prix as the IndyCar points leader, used a controversial maneuver out of the pits to hold off Scott Dixon and eventually earn his first victory since joining Team Penske last season. "Compared to last year, we've [taken] a big step forward," Pagenaud said. "I believe there's more to come. It feels great . . .
Graham Rahal admits he is nervous about Saturday's race. He is a little leery about opening the IndyCar season at one of the series' trickiest tracks -- without testing, with limited practice time and revised tire rules. He is also curious how IndyCar's newest safety feature, the windscreen, will perform in its long-awaited and long-delayed debut. "This is going to be a first for us -- the glare, the pitting, does it get beat up on an oval, just the visibility standpoint, the heat, all of these things on an oval," Rahal said. "We just don't have any answers for that."
Simon Pagenaud knows what he should be doing right now. Friday's plan was to climb into the No. 22 Chevrolet for one final test session, mingle with fans and plot race strategy. Instead, he is spending the Memorial Day weekend quietly at home, far away from deafening engines and roaring crowds. He talks about the future -- IndyCar's season opener in Texas on June 6, the series' first July race at the Brickyard, the COVID-19 pandemic that caused this chaos -- and his hope that the rescheduled 500 weekend in August proves to be as festive and fun as he expected. "It really hit me on qualifying weekend. It was my birthday," Pagenaud said on a Zoom call Friday.