Today’s iRacing Cup race at virtual Bristol: Start time and more

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Round three of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series takes place today with competitors racing at a virtual BristolMotor Speedway.

Timmy Hill won last weekend’s race at a virtual Texas Motor Speedway. The viewership set a record for an eSports event on TV.

Here is the information on today’s virtual race:

(All times are Eastern)

DIGNITARIES: Co-grand marshals are Fox Sports analyst and Wrestlemania host Rob Gronkowski and WWE Superstar Mojo Rawley. Singer/actress Rita Wilson will perform the National Anthem. Darrell and Stevie Waltrip will give the invocation.

FORMAT: One hour of practice begins at noon. Qualifying begins at 1:05 p.m. to set the lineups for both heat races. First heat is scheduled to begin at 1:08 p.m. Second heat is scheduled to begin at about 1:30 p.m. All drivers will transfer to the feature race. Heat race results will set the lineup for the feature race.

FEATURE RACE: Scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

DISTANCE: The Food City Showdown is 150 laps (79.95 miles) around the virtual .533-mile oval.

TV/RADIO: FOX and FS1 will televise the virtual race. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. The race also can be seen on the Fox Sports App.

RULES: Since it is an exhibition race, drivers will get two full resets in their heat race and the feature race to repair damage. No cautions in the heat races. The cars have fixed setups. There will up to three attempts at a green/white/checkered finish.

CUP DRIVERS SCHEDULED TO COMPETE: Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Ross Chastain, Chase  Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Ty Dillon, Clint Bowyer, Chris Buescher, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Matt DiBenedetto, Joey Logano, William Byron, Tyler Reddick, Michael McDowell, Ryan Preece, John Hunter Nemechek, Kyle Larson, Bubba Wallace, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Garrett Smithley, Timmy Hill, Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell and Daniel Suarez.

ALSO RACING: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bobby Labonte, Parker Kligerman and Landon Cassill.

WHAT DRIVERS ARE SAYING: 

Kyle Busch: “I’ve learned a little bit about (iRacing) but, overall, I felt like we were pretty good at Homestead coming from the back and picking off a few guys and passing some cars. Then the crashes would happen and I would never be able to slow up or check up quick enough. These cars online here, they bounce off the wall way faster than they do in real life, so trying to judge how they ricochet and what is going to happen is hard to do. Last week at Texas, we got caught up in that first wreck. I think being able to qualify up front and get some track position – that would be nice to start with and seems important. I’m sure it’s even more important at a place like Bristol, so we’ll see if we can get a good finish this weekend with our M&M’S Messages Camry.”

Clint Bowyer: “There are certain guys that when you get on the sim in any given week, whether it’s the day or the evening, that you look for because you know that they’ve got experience and track time and seat time in the sim and on iRacing. Parker Kligerman, Garrett Smithley, Timmy Hill, William Byron, Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr. – these are all guys that have a ton of experience. When they get on the racetrack, trust me, you need to get out there with them and learn as much as you can, follow them and everything else. You’ll see my Smithfield Ford Mustang behind them so I can figure out how to eventually get in front of them.”

Matt DiBenedetto: “Bristol is my best track in real life. But iRacing has a different feel to it. It takes a lot of practice to get more comfortable with it and to have the precision you need.”

Austin Dillon: “I’m really looking forward to racing at the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend because the real Bristol Motor Speedway is always a fun time for racers. It’s going to be interesting racing in the virtual race. I think it’s going to be a wreck-fest because it’s really hard to race on the track virtually. We’ve all been practicing a lot but it will be interesting to see what happens. … I’m really excited to compete in this race for Dow and plan to have some fun with it.”

Erik Jones: “Bristol should be good. It’s one of my favorite tracks in real life that we get to go to each year. It’s probably going to be a lot different than the last two weeks. It’ll be interesting to see where the preferred grove is with it being split between the top and the bottom in real life racing, so not sure what it’s going to be like in iRacing. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully we can run a little better than last week. I have more time this week to practice before the race now that I’m getting a little settled in to my house. Hopefully I can get on there, get some laps down and can go up front and contend for the win this week.”

Michael McDowell: “I think that this weekend’s Pro Invitational Series race from virtual Bristol Motor Speedway is going to require a lot of concentration and stamina. Some people might think that just because this is a virtual race, that it will be relatively easy to compete in. However, the fact of the matter is that it still takes a lot of focus to be able to push your car to its limits, while trying your best not to crash with 35 other cars all around you. Thankfully, to help me stay alert and on my game, I have CELSIUS Fitness Drinks coming on board this weekend. Not only will they be a primary sponsor of my virtual No. 34 Ford Mustang, but they have also been my go-to fitness drink for a long time. I drink a CELSIUS before every workout and on every race morning. Their drinks taste great and provide me with the energy that I need to perform any task.”

John Hunter Nemechek: “Bristol is already such a challenging track for us in person and it will be interesting to see what it’s like in a virtual race. The preferred line at Bristol tends to move around as the race goes on, and as we’ve seen over the last two weeks of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, anything can happen. That said, I’m feeling pretty good about our No. 38 Ford Mustang. I’m also really glad we are able to have our partners at YANMAR America with us on the car this weekend. I was just gutted for them after not being able to race at Atlanta. They’re such a great group of people and I’m thankful for their outpouring of support for Front Row Motorsports since last year. I’m excited that we get to have them ‘along for the ride’ this weekend and look forward to the day when we can see the No. 38 YANMAR Ford Mustang on track in person, too.”

Tyler Reddick: “So far, I’ve noticed that if you can run right next to the wall the track is really fast. … It’s going to be interesting to see what happens at virtual Bristol Motor Speedway this Sunday. I love the track and have had a lot of success there in the past so I’m looking forward to the race.”

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.