IndyCar drivers Will Power and Graham Rahal are in agreement that iRacing’s realism is behind their virtual series’ success.

Many series’ have been running virtual races, but very few to the same avail as IndyCar. The American series has all but a few of their real-world drivers taking part, and viewership that rivals that of F1, despite the championship having a considerably smaller fanbase.

When looking at what is driving this success, Team Penske’s Power, and RLL’s Rahal both pointed to the realism of iRacing, particularly on the graphics front – an area that the sim platform is known for, when asked by to the IndyCar drivers.

“I think – for one – it’s because no one has anything to do right now is a big reason,” said Power. “We have big numbers as IndyCar declared. It would be awesome if that continued after everyone gets back to work. To be honest, the racing looks very real.

“The driving is very real. If you’re watching on TV, I mean, you could almost feel like you’re watching a real race. I think it’s good to watch, it’s a good competition. I think iRacing has done a great job of making a simulation that can be very close to the real world.

IndyCar rival Rahal agreed, but also gave more weight to the Kiwi’s previous point that many are bored in this time. “I think Will is right,” he said. “I think a lot of people are just dying for something to do, something to watch.

“The competitiveness in all of us wants to see some sort of sport. I know there are other buddies like hockey players that are watching it because they just want to watch something. They need something to do. So I think that’s a big part of it.

“I think it’s great that NBC Sports is covering it now other than just being online. I think it will be tremendous to see how that turns out. I agree, IndyCar iRacing is very realistic. When you see the cars on track, you watch a replay, see the photos, it’s eerily real looking.

“I did a race at St. Louis. It was extremely entertaining I think for the drivers that were participating. Other than 400 yellow flags, which happened early in the IndyCar race, it was really, really entertaining to be a part of.

“People who watched that race would have loved the show that they had been seeing. I think there’s a lot of realism to it. I think it’s also people just want something right now. The desire and the demand is there to log in and see something competitive on TV.

IndyCar ran its first race which had roughly 400,000 viewers – it was solely online. The second race moved out from social media as NBC Sports took over along with Sky Sports airing it in the UK, and while viewership for the latter network has not been released, NBC saw an average of 165,000 people watching every minute.

This number may seem smaller, but that’s due to the difference in how the figures were found, as the first IndyCar round’s numbers were calculated by adding up everyone who tuned in, regardless of whether it was for a substantial amount of time or not.

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