Norris spins, then wins IndyCar Challenge at COTA

Lando Norris rebounded from a mid-race spin to win his IndyCar Challenge debut at virtual Circuit of the Americas.

Norris, an experienced sim racer and McLaren Formula 1 driver, earned pole position after being invited to the fifth round of the IndyCar Challenge at virtual Circuit of the Americas.

He proved to have formidable pace through practice and qualifying and led Will Power after a clean start. In the early laps, Oliver Askew went around in Turn 1, collecting Robert Wickens and a couple others.

Norris pitted from the lead on Lap 11 just prior to the competition caution, handing control of the race over to Power.

Norris would restart sixth following the mandatory yellow, but made quick work of Scott Dixon and Santino Ferrucci to re-enter the top-five.

Soon after, calamity struck as Norris lost traction out of the final corner and spun. 

 

This was a huge break for Power, but it would soon be tossed away following a green-flag pit stop. He crossed over the curbs in the essess on his out lap, sending the No. 12 Team Penske machine spinning off track. He then went for a secondary spin, nearly colliding with teammate Scott McLaughlin as he tried to quickly regain control.

Pato O’Ward then inherited the race lead, but Norris was far from done. He made his final stop just as he caught the rear bumper of O’Ward with nine laps to go.

O’Ward would male his stop four laps later, briefly handing the lead over to Alex Palou before he pitted as well.

Rosenqvist then spun from the lead as he was trying to hang on with a one-stop strategy and Norris narrowly avoided a collision, retaking the lead in dramatic fashion.

 

O’Ward was charging with more push to passes available, but could not quite get to his Arrow McLaren SP teammate in the closing moments of the 32-lap race. Norris would claim the checkered flag in a remarkable comeback after spinning halfway through the event.

"Yeah was not easy at all, which was all done to myself," he told NBCSN. "Obviously the spin in the second stint, but yeah it was a touch race, especially with Pato closing down with the new tires at the end. I didn't think I was going to get back to the lead so I was gutted."

He added that a radio call from his engineer to "keep pushing" helped him regain focus and soon after, his main rival in Power spun from the lead as Norris charged back through the field. 

"That was a key, Will spinning, to allow me to get back up to P1."

O’Ward finished second, Rosenqvist third, Mclaughlin fourth and Ferrucci fifth.

 

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