It was going to happen at some point.
With four laps left to the scheduled distance in Sunday’s eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series event on a virtual Texas Motor Speedway, Timmy Hill performed a bump-and-run on William Byron that led to Hill’s win in the race.
It left Byron, an experienced iRacing driver like Hill, “pissed off” for about three hours after the event. Through the first two events of the Pro Invitational, Byron had led the most laps in both and failed to win.
“I was so mad,” Byron said on this week’s episode of the “Door Bumper Clear” podcast. “Everyone was like, ‘You’re taking it too serious!’ I’m like, ‘Everybody’s taking it serious, we’re racing.’ After about three hours of sitting on the couch, I was ‘Ok, I’m fine now.’ We’ll see what happens.”
Adding to Hill’s winning move, one that even temporarily angered a competitor, was the race that it preceded: Bristol Motor Speedway (1 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox and FS1).
Yes, the next digital track the Pro Invitational iRacing Series will visit is the half-mile track in “Thunder Valley.”
The track that, in real life, caused Ward Burton to throw his heel guards at Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car in 2002.
The track that saw Tony Stewart heave his helmet in anger at Matt Kenseth’s car in 2012.
“The damage model would kill my front end just like it would at Watkins Glen (where Byron tried to retaliate against Kyle Busch last year),” Byron said on “Door Bumper Clear.” “So I’m going to avoid that. I also got a little advice, don’t do it so obvious that (you) do it like Suarez did, where they kick you out of the race. I got to be careful about it. If (Hill’s) holding me up, I guess we’ll take care of it, I don’t know, we’ll see. He always races good.”
After his win, Hill said “(Byron will) probably still be mad probably for the next coming weeks. Even though this is iRacing, it is virtual, the feelings are real.”
Bubba Wallace thinks the tempers of drivers will “for sure” flare up as the digital series continues and competition ramps up.
“At the end of the day, we’re all competitors,” Wallace said Tuesday in a teleconference. “It’s funny, I can sit there and try to become third perspective for a second while I’m driving, and be like ‘Man, we’re taking it super serious’. But at the end of the day, I hope the next time we interact with somebody in real life, that’s not going to carry over. It would be like ‘Hey man, you wrecked me on iRacing’. But it’s like, ‘Cool bro, you had a reset button. Did you get hurt? Did it cost you any money?’. No, so at the end of the day, it’s a video game and there’s no blood, sweat or tears.”
Wallace did acknowledge that those who compete on iRacing “do put a lot of time into it” and that to have “somebody wreck you out or cost you a race is frustrating.”
While there might not be “blood, sweat or tears” in an iRacing event held on the high-banks of Bristol, Wallace explained it will have its share of challenges for competitors.
“Bristol is going to be tough,” Wallace said. “You can kind of get away with it in real life … you hit the wall, you’re cutting a tire quick. But (in iRacing), it depends on where you hit with the car, it really affects your performance pretty bad. So, it’s going to be tough. There are going to be a lot of close quarters racing. The guys on the bottom may have a little bit of an advantage because it’s so easy to get in contact. … There’s definitely going to have to be a lot of give and take.”