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Colton Herta, Lando Norris preview IndyCar iRacing Challenge at COTA

Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey - Qualifying

MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 21: Colton Herta #88 of United States and Capstone Turbine Honda reacts after winning the pole position during qualifying for the NTT IndyCar Series Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on September 21, 2019 in Monterey, California. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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IndyCar’s iRacing Challenge will continue Saturday (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or via streaming) with yet another star-studded field.

There are 33 drivers entered in the race at virtual Circuit of The Americas, highlighted by the addition of Formula One’s Lando Norris.

Also joining Norris as iRacing Challenge newcomers are Australian Supercars driver Chaz Mostert and IndyCar veteran Spencer Pigot.

ENTRY LIST: Who will be racing in round five

IndyCar made its real-life debut at COTA last year with an exciting weekend that saw Colton Herta become the youngest winner in series history at just shy of 19 years old.

Herta has been practicing and is hopeful that Saturday’s race will be just as exciting for fans. While Herta said he misses being at the real track, iRacing provides a somewhat realistic feeling of what it would be like.

“It still kind of keeps your mind sharp and gets you in the mindset of actually competing so it does help,” Herta told reporters Friday. “Even though it’s not the real thing, it’s the best thing we’ve got right now.”

Herta also said the simulation also does a fairly good job of emulating certain real-life aspects of the car and track.

“I think relative terms like the ‘dirty air’ and how the tires go off, it is really good,” Herta said. “I think if you hop on the sim for an hour or two before each race weekend, it’s good for learning the track, it’s good for knowing where the bumps are so you’re not wasting that time on actual race weekends trying to find out lines and stuff.”

Sim racing also has provided the opportunity for drivers from different disciplines to race against each other, which Norris appreciates.

“That’s one of the cool things about all of this, you’re getting all the different drivers from different sports but also from different categories of racing,” Norris said. “Everyone is coming from a different area.

“Sometimes you would maybe never get to race against these people in your career. Virtually you’re still racing against these people with different skills and attributes. Obviously, for me coming in and joining you in IndyCar, it’s an opportunity for me to race the IndyCar guys.”

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994