IndyCar held its virtual take on the Indianapolis 500 this past Sunday, but the virtual, 175-mile race devolved into chaos in the closing laps as competitors began to wreck each other out of the race on purpose.
The most egregious offender was 2019 Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud. The Frenchman decided to take out Formula 1 star and adept sim racer Lando Norris while the British driver was leading the race with just three laps remaining, slowing down on the exit of Turn 4 and forcing the orange Arrow McLaren SP entry to slam into the back of his bright yellow Team Penske car. Pagenaud attempted to play the crash off as a mistake, but had previously expressed a desire to take Norris out of the race during his personal online stream.
Pagenaud’s disdain for Norris may have been tied to an earlier crash that occurred with just eight laps to go, when Norris, Pagenaud and Graham Rahal went three-wide for the lead – a risky maneuver that ended up with Pagenaud spinning backwards and hitting the outside wall. Fans also believe Pagenaud didn’t want a Formula 1 driver to win IndyCar’s premier online event and may have been frustrated after Norris whooped the IndyCar field in the series’ previous iRacing event at Circuit of the Americas.
America’s best open-wheel racers weren’t done embarrassing themselves yet, however. Norris and Pagenaud’s coming together handed the lead over to Arrow McLaren SP rookie Oliver Askew, who was leading Dale Doyne Racing’s Santino Ferrucci to the finish line on the final lap. Ferrucci then appeared to turn down on Askew on purpose, taking both drivers out and dashing Askew’s hopes at a virtual Indy victory.
New Zealand’s Scott McLaughlin then inherited the lead as Askew and Ferruci’s cars tumbled down the front straight, handing him the win. Andretti Autosport’s Conor Daly was second, while Ferrucci’s battered Seal Master-sponsored car was classified third.
Fans can re-watch the First Responder 175 via the YouTube video embedded below. IndyCar is currently hoping to host the real-world Indianapolis 500 on August 23rd, if the COVID-19 pandemic allows, of course.