No Fuel-ish Moves: Karam Wins Round 2 of INDYCAR iRacing Challenge

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Sage Karam used a mix of skill and strategy to win Round 2 of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge on Thursday night on the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway oval, as his gamble to stop just once for fuel paid off in the No. 98 Andretti Autosport Honda.

Karam, who started fifth, took the lead with 12 laps to go in the 100-lap race when leader RC Enerson dove into the pits for his second stop in the No. 75 Top Gun Racing Dallara. Enerson grabbed the lead on Lap 20 when pole sitter Enzo Fittipaldi made his second pit stop in the No. 52 Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda.

“We did it!” Karam said. “Eight of us did it on one stop. Man, that was crazy, literally saving (fuel) from the beginning. And we saved enough fuel to do donuts.”

Conor Daly finished second in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, 15.327 seconds behind Karam, after also stopping only once in the caution-free race. He ran out of fuel on his cooldown lap on the 1.5-mile oval, unable to join Karam in celebratory donuts at the start-finish line.

“I’m going to go out here and do some donuts with old SK Money (Karam) – oh, wait: I have no fuel,” Daly said, smiling. “How do you have enough fuel to do donuts? This isn’t even fair!”

Said Karam, laughing, “I’m two laps to the good!”

Fittipaldi finished third after charging from 12th over the last 20 laps after his final pit stop. He led 68 of the 100 laps.

Brazilian Fittipaldi, 19, will race in Indy Pro 2000 Championship presented by Cooper Tires in the Road to Indy ladder system this season. He is the younger brother of NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver Pietro Fittipaldi and grandson of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and two-time Formula One World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi.

Experienced sim racer Karam tucked in behind fellow competitors as often as possible to save fuel during the race, a strategy he committed to from the green flag. It paid off with his second victory in INDYCAR iRacing Challenge competition, as he won Round 1 of the 2020 season at Watkins Glen.

Ed Carpenter Racing teammates Daly and Ed Carpenter followed the same tactics tonight with help from team performance engineer Stan Sandoval.

But neither Carpenter nor Daly were optimistic about the fuel-ish plan just past the halfway point of the race, especially as the race stayed clean and green.

“I’m not going to make it if the pace stays the same,” said Carpenter, who finished on one stop and ended up sixth in the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.

Said Daly: “Are we stooges? … If you’re into math, this is the race for you.”

Alex Palou, winner of Race 1 last week at virtual Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, finished 10th in the No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda in the 18-car field.

Round 3 will start at 6:30 p.m. (ET) Thursday, April 1 at Sebring International Raceway. Fans selected the famous road course in south-central Florida for the series finale in an online vote.

The race will be streamed live on INDYCAR.com, along with INDYCAR’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, and iRacing’s YouTube channel. Secondary channels also will be available from NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers’ personal accounts.

Kellett Takes Control with Homemade Wheel

AJ Foyt Racing driver Dalton Kellett raced tonight with a unique rig, steering his No. 4 Chevrolet with a prototype cardboard wheel that he built as part of his work with iNSL, a group that promotes STEM education.

iNSL worked with iRacing to provide a platform for engineering and science lessons for middle and high school students, with an online series based around the construction of a prototype sim racing rig in place of its regular radio-controlled car competition.

Canadian Kellett, a graduate of Queen’s University in Ontario with a degree in engineering physics, designed a challenge in which teams built prototypes from readily available materials. Kellett's wheel was made from layers of cardboard and epoxy, a wooden dowel for a steering column and provided electronic parts as a sample for students to follow before they compete online with the wheels they built.

Kellett finished 12th.

Dude, That’s My Car

When Race 1 winner Alex Palou logged on to iRacing to practice earlier today, he noticed that Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Tony Kanaan was turning laps in a No. 48 car with the same black NTT DATA livery as Palou’s No. 10.

Palou asked NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion and Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Kanaan, “Why are you using my scheme?”

Kanaan then informed Palou that he drove the No. 10 NTT DATA car in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES earlier this decade for Ganassi. Palou, ever the polite gentleman, replied, “Thank you for letting me use your scheme!”

Mullet Matters

Ed Carpenter Racing driver Conor Daly took INDYCAR Content Day and social media by storm earlier this month when he debuted a coiffured mullet hairstyle. The “business in front, party in back” hairdo continues to be popular with fans, which was a topic of conversation with Daly on Twitch during pre-race practice.

“The only photos that are getting any traction on Instagram are photos of the mullet,” Daly said while turning laps. “So, therefore I think only from now on I will be posting mullet photos on the internet.”

Be Like Mike

Basketball legend Michael Jordan was renowned for sometimes hanging his tongue out while slashing to the hoop, pulling up for a jump shot or performing one his awe-inspiring aerial dunks.

Well, it appears pole sitter Enzo Fittipaldi wants to be like Mike, as part of his tongue hung out of the side of his mouth during most of tonight’s race in the No. 52 Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda.

Radio Chatter

Travel delays from Indianapolis prevented Team Penske driver Scott McLaughlin, who finished third in Race 1 last Thursday at Montreal, from getting home in time to Charlotte, North Carolina, to compete tonight … Chip Ganassi Racing driver Tony Kanaan wasted no time preparing for the series finale Thursday, April 1, jumping into a sports car moments after the checkered flag tonight to turn laps on the famous Florida circuit … Kanaan showed off his multilingual skills during practice and the race tonight, speaking in English, his native Portuguese and Spanish. That prompted Charlie Kimball to joke, “This is an English-speaking series, Tony. English speaking, please.” Kanaan replied with a laugh, “No hablo Ingles!” … Kimball streamed his sim racing live on YouTube for the first time tonight … Ed Carpenter Racing driver Conor Daly and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Takuma Sato battled side by side for fifth early in the race, with Sato pulling ahead on sliding attempt to pass that ended up with the position but wall contact. “Ah, the little slide jibber didn’t work out!” Daly said on Twitch with a smile … Sato damaged his car after passing Daly, causing a dilemma whether to pit for repairs or stay out. “We can stay out and learn,” Sato said in conversation with his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing data engineer Hayden Sharretts, who served as his strategist tonight … The usually mild-mannered Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan driver Ed Jones elicited laughs from the field last week when he called a fellow competitor a “wanker” for an error during practice for Round 1 at Montreal. Team Penske’s Will Power was the first driver tonight to use apparently the choice insult of this year’s series, calling another driver a “wanker” early in the race.

From the fans