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

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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 ADVANCING FROM QUALIFYING RACE: Bobby Labonte (winner), Landon Cassill (second place), Daniel Suarez (third place) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fourth place).

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.”

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Daytona road course entry lists

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NASCAR’s national series will make their debuts on the Daytona road course this weekend. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck events will be held without any practice or qualifying.

NASCAR is prohibiting drivers from competing in more than one series this weekend on the Daytona road course in an effort to get extra track time. NASCAR states that is to make the event fair for everyone.

Sunday’s Cup race will be broadcast on NBC.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for the races at the Daytona road course 

Cup – Go Bowling 235 (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC)

Thirty-nine drivers are entered for the race at the Daytona road course.

JJ Yeley is in the No. 27 for Rick Ware Racing.

Joey Gase is in the No. 51 for Petty Ware Racing.

Gray Gaulding is in the No. 53 for Rick Ware Racing.

Brendan Gaughan is in the No. 62 for Beard Motorsports.

Timmy Hill is in the No. 66 for Motorsports Business Management.

Reed Sorenson is in the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports.

Click here for Cup entry list

 

Xfinity – UNOH 188 (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-eight cars are entered.

Andy Lally is back in the No. 02 Our Motorsports car after finishing fifth last week at Road America.

AJ Allmendinger, who finished second last week at Road America, is in the No. 16 for Kaulig Racing.

IMSA driver Earl Bamber will make his Xfinity debut this weekend in the No. 21 for Richard Childress Racing.

Brandon Gdovic will make his second start of the season, driving the No. 26 for Sam Hunt Racing.

Click here for Xfinity entry list

 

Truck – Sunoco 159 (Noon ET Sunday on FS1)

Thirty-nine trucks are entered in the race that will be held before the Cup event on Sunday on the Daytona road course.

Alex Tagliani will drive the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Click here for Truck entry list

Silly Season Scorecard: Christopher Bell moves back to JGR

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No surprise that Christopher Bell moves over to the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing next season with Leavine Family Racing being sold and Erik Jones not remaining with JGR beyond this season. Joe Gibbs Racing made the announcement Monday.

While JGR lets the 24-year-old Jones, who has 133 Cup starts go, it brings in the 25-year-old Bell who has made 22 career Cup starts. Jones said before Sunday’s race he was “blindsided a little bit” by JGR’s move.

It’s part of the building momentum of Silly Season. In the last week, Team Penske signed Brad Keselowski to a reported one-year extension and Bubba Wallace said he has an offer for next year not only from Richard Petty Motorsports but also Chip Ganassi Racing.

Here’s how the Cup Silly Season scorecard looks as of Aug. 10.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2021

No. 00: Quin Houff enters the second year of his two-year deal with StarCom Racing.

No. 1: Kurt Busch enters the second year of a multi-year contract that Chip Ganassi Racing announced last season.

No. 2: Brad Keselowski and Team Penske announced a contract extension Aug. 3.

No. 4: Kevin Harvick signed a contract extension in February that will keep him at Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2023 season.

No. 8: Tyler Reddick said in a press conference Aug. 7 that he will be back with Richard Childress Racing next season.

No. 9: Chase Elliott is under contract with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2022 season.

No. 11: Denny Hamlin is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 12: Ryan Blaney and Team Penske announced a multi-year extension earlier this season.

No. 18: Kyle Busch is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 20: Christopher Bell moves from Leavine Family Racing to take over this ride in 2021.

No. 22: Joey Logano is tied to Team Penske “through the 2022 season and beyond.”

No. 24: William Byron is under contact with Hendrick Motorsports through at least 2021.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. enters the second year of a multi-year deal with JTG Daugherty Racing.

No. 88: Alex Bowman will race for Hendrick Motorsports under a one-year contract extension announced earlier this year.

 

Available/possibly available rides

No. 10: Aric Almirola is in a contract year at Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon is in a contract year at Germain Racing.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer is in a contract year to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto is in a contract year at Wood Brothers Racing. He said after the Aug. 9 Michigan race: “I haven’t really talked about that stuff for next year yet, but we’ve just been so focused and head down on digging and trying to make the playoffs and run well. We haven’t even really talked about it, so, hopefully, I stay here for a very long time to come and that’s what they had expressed to me when I came over here.”

No. 32: Corey LaJoie is in a contract year at Go Fas Racing.

No. 42: Matt Kenseth told NBC Sports on Aug. 8 in regards to talks with Chip Ganassi Racing for next year: “We really haven’t had any very meaningful discussions really about any of that to be honest with you.

No. 43: Bubba Wallace said Aug. 9 he has an offer from Richard Petty Motorsports and an offer from Chip Ganassi Racing to drive the No. 42 car next season.

No. 48: With Jimmie Johnson retiring from full-time competition, Hendrick Motorsports has this seat to fill.

No. 95: Leavine Family Racing announced it was selling its assets earlier this week. The buyer has not been announced. Christopher Bell will move to the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team for 2021.

Christopher Bell to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2021

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Christopher Bell will drive for the No. 20 next season for Joe Gibbs Racing, the team announced Monday, a decision that was expected with Erik Jones’ contract expiring after this season and it not being renewed. 

“I’m so appreciative of the opportunity I have this year with LFR and I want to finish this season strong for Bob (Leavine) and everyone there,” Bell said in a statement from the team. “At the same time, I’m extremely excited to return to Joe Gibbs Racing starting in 2021. It’s an organization I’m very comfortable with and have had a lot of success with.”

Said car owner Joe Gibbs: “We are excited to bring Christopher into our Cup Series program starting in 2021. He obviously had tremendous success in the Xfinity Series with us and we look forward to his return to JGR.”

Bell drove for JGR in in the Xfinity Series in 2018 and 2019, winning 15 races, before moving to the Cup Series and Leavine Family Racing this season. Leavine Family Racing announced last week that it has been sold.

Entering Sunday’s race at the Daytona International Speedway road course (3 p.m. ET on NBC), Bell is 19th in points. His best finish this season is fourth at the first Pocono race in late June.

Xfinity playoff grid after Road America

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Brandon Brown extended his hold on the final spot in the Xfinity playoff grid last weekend at Road America after struggles early in the race.

Brown needed to be pushed back to pit road before the field took the green because of a mechanical issue. He fell a lap down as his crew diagnosed the issue, got his lap back, scored four stage points in the second stage and finished 12th, one spot off his best career finish on a road course.

MORE: Brandon Brown wants to reward father with a special celebration

MORE: Austin Cindric wins at Road America 

Brown’s effort and Jeremy Clements misfortune in being collected in a crash to finish 29th led to Brown extending his lead on Clements for the final spot in the Xfinity playoff grid to 53 points. Myatt Snider is 73 points behind Brown. Eight races remain until the Xfinity playoffs begin Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Here is a look at the playoff grid. Drivers shaded in green are locked in the playoffs. Those shaded in yellow are in a playoff spot based on their point total. Drivers shaded in red are outside a spot in the Xfinity playoff grid.