Scott McLaughlin put a late move on Alex Palou three laps from home to win the final race of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Sebring.
Qualifying sixth, McLaughlin was ensconced soundly inside the top-five for the opening half of the 26-lapper.
Winner of round two Sage Karam had usurped polesitter Palou on lap one and commanded the first portion of the race.
Karam would then opt for an early pitstop, cycling the lane on lap 13.
He would rejoin the track in clean air but was caught out by the lack of grip on his cold tyres and spun into tyre barrier moments later.
With the race favourite eliminated on the spot, several drivers decided to play out unique strategies to try and gain the upper hand.
McLaughlin and Indy Pro 2000 racer Enzo Fittipaldi would be the last to make their stops, coming in on lap 15.
“I wasn’t confident on an older set of tyres,” McLaughlin said post-race. “So, I went as long as I could on the older set and short fuelled it at the stop.”
The Kiwi exited the lane in third, but within striking distance of race leader Palou and second place RC Enerson.
Using his push-to-pass wisely, McLaughlin quickly reeled in and overtook Enerson for second.
Moments later, McLaughlin rattled off the fastest lap of the race and was hunting down Palou for the win.
The switch of position would come with three laps to go when McLaughlin placed his Penske racer on the inside line of Palou at the final corner.
Palou would attempt the switch back along the main straight, and temporarily had re-claimed the race lead.
However, McLaughlin’s move at the pervious corner had set himself on the ideal line for turn one. He shut the door on Palou and cemented himself at the head of the field.
Ultimately, McLaughlin would lead Palou over the line by 0.895 seconds.
The Kiwi has now won one third of all IndyCar iRacing Challenge events since the concept’s launch last year.
“I was very surprised to win that,” he said. “I didn’t think I was going to win tonight, so it was nice.
“I sort of was thinking of just showing my nose [on Palou], but then instincts kicked in and I just went for it.”
The IndyCar iRacing Challenge series is now brought to an end, with round one of the real-life IndyCar Series set to start in just over a fortnight.
“I’m really excited to get on with it,” McLaughlin said. “I’m sick of driving my simulator, for now. I just want to get into the real stuff.”