Round four of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series takes place today in the Toyota Owners 150 at a virtual Richmond Raceway.
Unlike Homestead and Texas, which had 35 entries, and Bristol, which had 32 entries, Richmond has only 30 current or former NASCAR Cup drivers entered.
William Byron won the most recent race, two weeks ago at a virtual Bristol Motor Speedway.
Here is the information on today’s virtual race:
(All times are Eastern)
DIGNITARIES: Country music stars Rascal Flatts will sing the National Anthem. Actor Kelsey Grammer will give the command to start engines. NASCAR Hall of Famer and owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, Joe Gibbs, will give the invocation.
FORMAT: The feature will be 150 laps (112.5 miles) around the .750-mile D-shaped oval. Green flag will be at 1:13 p.m. Drivers will get no resets in the feature race to repair damage. The cars have fixed setups. There will up to three attempts at a green/white/checkered finish. Qualifying will take place at 12:50 p.m.
SCHEDULE: There will be a 25-lap qualifying race comprised of 13 drivers at 10:33 a.m. ET (will not be on TV or online). The top two finishing drivers, as well as two other drivers chosen by FOX will be given provisional starts to fill out the 30-car field. There will be no caution flags or resets in the qualifier.
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.
CUP DRIVERS SCHEDULED TO COMPETE: Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, 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, Ryan Preece, John Hunter Nemechek, Bubba Wallace, Jimmie Johnson, Garrett Smithley, Timmy Hill, Alex Bowman and Christopher Bell.
ALSO RACING: Parker Kligerman.
DRIVERS IN QUALIFYING RACE: Quin Houff, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brennan Poole, Bobby Labonte, Corey LaJoie, Michael McDowell, Cole Custer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chad Finchum, JJ Yeley, Joey Gase, Landon Cassill and Daniel Suarez.
WHAT DRIVERS ARE SAYING:
DENNY HAMLIN: “Obviously, iRacing isn’t exactly the same as being behind the wheel of our real FedEx Camry, but it’s about as close as you can get using simulations. We’ve got one win already in this iRacing series, so I definitely think we can do it again.”
KYLE BUSCH: “It’s definitely getting more serious because I’m working to try and get better with our M&M’S Camry. I struggled in qualifying the first few races and was able to work my way back up front each time, so qualifying has been a struggle point for me so far. I got back into the top-10 each race, but I’ve been caught up in a wreck each time that has not allowed me to finish very well. It’s still fun, but there are those moments of getting crashed that I know I’ve put in a lot of work trying to get better and I just want to finish well and it can be frustrating still.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON: “It brought a little bit of structure for me; more than I anticipated honestly, because I was just so far behind in the sim experience. But to see the viewership numbers and understand how much fun the fans are having watching it, it has motivated me and has me highly interested to keep it going,” Johnson said. “As we look around and see other sports try to figure out how to virtually offer something for their fans, we were one of the first, if not the first, to do it and do it well and break all kinds of records in the process. So, hats off to everybody to pull it though and our partners on the television-side to allow this to happen.
JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK: “It’s fun to be back this weekend. I came close at Bristol and the feeling is the same as it is in the real car- you want to win. … This is as realistic as we can make it without actually being at the track and in the car. It’s different, but it’s still exciting and I’m racing to win and represent all our partners.”
KEVIN HARVICK: “I’ve been trying to practice one hour a day. I’ve got Busch Light on my Ford Mustang and I’m going to have fun with it. I did win a street stock race this week (on iRacing)…after I wrecked in the first four. I won a Legends race by default because the whole field crashed. But those are really my only two iRacing wins. They’re not pretty. I did wreck the whole field in a Legends race the other day after starting on the front row on lap one. So, that was high entertainment. I figure the whole iRacing thing is really something that’s supposed to be fun for everybody, supposed to be filler for a gap in time during this crazy pandemic. The whole iRacing thing has introduced me to a whole new network of people and it’s opened my eyes to a whole new group of racers. It’s a different culture, but it’s still a racing culture.”
CLINT BOWYER: “iRacing is extremely realistic. You’re using the same mechanics, the same forces, and the same movements you use in real life to make your car go fast, and that includes your hand-eye coordination and your feet. You drive these things so much with the pedals, with the gas, the brake, the steering input. All of those inputs in your mind are the exact same thing we use to put our car to the front of the field on any given Sunday. That being said, the only sense that you don’ t have in a simulator is the feel from the seat of your pants. We kind of call it the ‘butt dyno’. You balance a racecar kind of like if you put a plate on the end of an ink pen. That’s how you balance a racecar. That thing wants to go on all four different axis’, whether it’s the right-front, left-front, right-rear, left-rear, you can feel all those things, and that’s how you balance a car is through the seat of your pants. In iRacing, you don’t have that. All you have is your visuals, so once you have the hang of that and your mind finally catches on, it’s kind of like riding a bike. It’s a struggle for a little while, but once you catch on to that and realize what’s going on with the movements of your car and the movements of the track and things like that – when to pick up the gas, your timing – once you get all that set, it’s exactly like what we do in real life with our PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze Ford Mustang.”
ERIK JONES: “I’m looking forward to Richmond. I’ve got a new Sim setup for this weekend, so I think that will go really well. Richmond has been a pretty good track to me in the past in the Cup Series and in the Xfinity Series as well. I hope that we can go and have a good run and get out there and contend in the top 10, top five and have a good shot at it. I’ve been putting in some good time this week on the sim trying to figure out the track and continue to improve. Hopefully it all pays off this Sunday when we get racing.”
AUSTIN DILLON: “Richmond is a short track to me. I love that place and the way the tires fall off. In the past, it’s been a place that I circled as the worst track for me, but my perspective has changed over time. Virtually, the track is very similar to how we race on it in real life. I always try to do the opposite of what I think when I get to Richmond Raceway and it helps because the track seems to mysteriously do things that you wouldn’t obviously think affect the car as the rubber lays down.”
TYLER REDDICK: “Richmond is a tough one that I always feel challenged by, both in real life and virtually. To me, it’s all about treating your tires right for the first 10-laps of a run to have a decent fall-off rate, but with the speeds we carry and how much dirty air can affect your car and its brakes, it can be tough on how you get around the race track. It takes a short-track mentality to get around Richmond, and you have to be very disciplined around the bottom of the racetrack.”