Three Things: Virtual COTA Edition

The IndyCar Challenge season reached its penultimate race Saturday as the drivers took on the Circuit of the Americas, and as had been the case of the previous four events, put on another great show.

Let’s review.

Is anybody “embarrassed”? I found it interesting that a motorsports journalist said that Formula One driver Lando Norris “embarrassed” the field in winning the race yesterday. Really? I thought is was great that IndyCar extended the invitation to Norris but the fact he won the race means absolutely nothing. Besides being an elite-level, real-life driver, the 20-year-old Norris is also an elite simracer. There are probably several of the best simracers in the world who could’ve done what he did Saturday. Besides, where was that kind of lede when Scott McLaughlin won a few weeks ago? It’s a video game, it’s fun. Let’s not make anything more of it than that.

Sim life vs. Real life. Pato O’Ward, Norris’ McLaren “teammate”, finished second Saturday, and showed that his success at COTA in 2019 translated into the virtual world as well. Running just the second IndyCar race of his career, O’Ward qualified his Carlin machine eighth after missing out on the Firestone Fast Six by just .09 seconds. That’s where he also finished on race day for the best finish to date of his IndyCar career. What does he have on store for real-life 2021?

See you in Indy! Dammit I wish that were true! With the iRacing series wrapping up and the calendar switching to May, the final race will be 175 miles of racing at the hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway next week. At first the idea was to go to a track where IndyCar doesn’t race — my pick would’ve been Monza — the choice to go to IMS is a smart one and I think will get a lot of people tuning in. Here’s something I wish they would do, though: race the road course before the broadcast window and show highlights during the race. With so many drivers streaming the race on social platforms, we would still be able to watch it. I know the drivers can only commit so a certain amount of time, but that would be fun. By the way, the race is open to all IndyCar teams plus race winners, so McLaughlin and Norris will be eligible to race Saturday.

I still hope they have something in store for the real race day on May 24. I still can’t believe we won’t be racing that day.

Photo credit: NBCSports/IndyCar Media

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