Watch: Formula 1 star beats Scott McLaughlin in virtual IndyCar battle
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Scott McLaughlin has once again starred in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge; finishing fourth in this morning's race at Circuit of the Americas.
The defending Supercars champ was pipped by Pato O'Ward in second and Felix Rosenqvist in third, while victory went to Formula 1 McLaren driver Lando Norris. The former Castrol Toyota Racing Series champ was dominant early and scintillating in the end, having had to recover from a mid-race spin.
Watch the full race below:
Once the race had restarted from its lap 13 competition caution, the order was Power, Felix Rosenqvist, Rinus Veekay, and Santino Ferruci. The order was mixed between different strategies, with most eyes on Norris in sixth place.
He had been the quickest driver of the race, and had made his main pit stop. Ahead of him was Scott Dixon, and five spots behind him was McLaughlin in 11th. A problematic race for Chaz Mostert, meanwhile, meant he would restart down in 31st.
Everyone in front of Norris needed to make their main stop, while Norris and beyond were primed for a splash and dash in the closing laps. Norris immediately kicked off the restart by getting by Dixon and Ferruci, but the race turned upside down for the Brit when he spun out of the final corner by himself on lap 15.
This dropped him outside the top 10, promoting McLaughlin to 10th as the fourth driver in the queue to make his pit-stop (Pato O'Ward being the leading stopper in fifth). McLaughlin then gained another place, when Power spun by himself too on his pit-lane out lap.
The first cycle of stops was complete by lap 19, with O'Ward cycling to first over Alex Palau. McLaughlin sat third, with Marcus Ericsson and Norris in behind. McLaughlin soon found himself up to second, after Palau became the next driver to make an unforced error spin.
Having passed Ericsson, Norris was soon pressuring McLaughlin for second. Norris got him on lap 21, only for McLaughlin to peel in for his second pit stop at the end of the lap. It was much earlier than most had forecast the 'splash and dash' stops to happen, but appeared likely to deliver an undercut return. He returned to the circuit in eighth; passing Veekay for seventh shortly after.
Norris, meanwhile, made his stop with nine laps to go. Despite McLaughlin's earlier stop, Norris was able to maintain his spot over the Kiwi. Norris' main rival as the race approached its finish was Rosenqvist, who looked likely to attempt to complete the race on a single pit-stop. O'Ward stopped with five laps to go, returning to the track just ahead of McLaughlin. Palau stopped on the following lap, handing McLaughlin fourth place.
It looked like a dramatic finish was on the cards for first as Norris closed on Rosenqvist. But, the Ganassi Racing driver threw away any chance of a grandstand defence when he spun by himself with four laps to go through the turn two and three esses. Somehow, Norris was able to avoid Rosenqvist as he twirled in front of him. Norris snuck by, leaving Rosenqvist to battle O'Ward.
This left Norris to collect the win by just over a second. O'Ward took second to make for an Arrow McLaren SP 1-2 finish, with third going to Rosenqvist. McLaughlin was best of the rest, finishing fourth and gathering good points for his championship challenge. Ferruci, Power, Veekay, Ericsson, Palou, and Josef Newgarden completed the top 10.
Dixon wound up finishing one spot shy of the top 10 in 11th, while Mostert ended up salvaging 20th on his virtual IndyCar debut for Andretti Autosports.
The series will head to Indianapolis for next weekend's 175-mile event, with all former Indy 500 champions invited to join the series regulars.
IndyCar iRacing Challenge, Circuit of the Americas
1. Lando Norris
2. Pato O'Ward
3. Felix Rosenqvist
4. Scott McLaughlin
5. Santino Ferruci
6. Will Power
7. Rinus Veekay
8. Marcus Ericsson
9. Alex Palou
10. Josef Newgarden
11. Scott Dixon
12. Felipe Nasr
13. Colton Herta
14. Simon Pagenaud
15. Alexander Rossi
16. Jack Harvey
17. Graham Rahal
18. Dalton Kellett
19. James Hinchcliffe
20. Chaz Mostert