Round five of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series takes place today with drivers competing at a virtual Talladega Superspeedway.
William Byron has won the past two events but a new rule means he will start today’s race last. Can he come from the rear to make it three in a row?
Or will Jeff Gordon, making his first Pro Invitational Series start, steal the show?
Here is the information on today’s virtual race:
(All times are Eastern)
DIGNITARIES: Actor Tim Allen will be the grand marshal and give the command. Randy Owen of the group Alabama will perform the national anthem. Bryson Byrnes, son of the late Fox broadcaster Steve Byrnes, will give the invocation.
FORMAT: One hour of practice begins at noon. Qualifying begins at 12:50 p.m. The session will be four minuets and set the field. The top 10 qualifiers will be inverted. Also, last week’s top-three finishers (William Byron, Timmy Hill and Parker Kligerman) will start at the back of the field.
RACE: The GEICO 70 is scheduled to begin at 1:14 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is 70 laps (186.2 miles) around the virtual 2.66-mile oval.
RULES: Drivers will be allowed one reset to repair damage. Cautions will be determined by race officials. There will be a maximum of three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish.
TV: The race can be seen on FOX (where available), FS1 and the Fox Sports App. Coverage begins at 1 p.m.
DRIVERS SCHEDULED TO COMPETE (subject to change):
#1 Kurt Busch
#2 Brad Keselowski
#3 Austin Dillon
#4 Kevin Harvick
#6 Ross Chastain
#8 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
#9 Chase Elliott
#10 Aric Almirola
#11 Denny Hamlin
#12 Ryan Blaney
#13 Ty Dillon
#14 Clint Bowyer
#17 Chris Buescher
#18 Kyle Busch
#19 Bobby Labonte
#20 Erik Jones
#21 Matt DiBenedetto
#22 Joey Logano
#24 William Byron
#24 Jeff Gordon
#31 Tyler Reddick
#32 Corey LaJoie
#34 Michael McDowell
#37 Ryan Preece
#38 John Hunter Nemechek
#41 Cole Custer
#47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
#48 Jimmie Johnson
#49 Chad Finchum
#51 Garrett Smithley
#52 JJ Yeley
#53 Joey Gase
#66 Timmy Hill
#77 Parker Kligerman
#88 Alex Bowman
#89 Landon Cassill
#95 Christopher Bell
#96 Daniel Suarez
WHAT DRIVERS ARE SAYING:
Aric Almirola: “Well, I’ve won at Talladega before, so it shouldn’t be that hard, right? In all seriousness, I’ve seen these veteran drivers and champions of the sport practice for hours and still struggle to finish the race, so the expectation for myself is low. It’ll be interesting to make my Pro Invitational debut at Talladega where we’ll just have to survive. Who knows, maybe I’ll be one of the last guys standing and have a shot at it.”
Clint Bowyer: “I finished last Sunday at Richmond, so I can only get better this week at Talladega.”
Kyle Busch: “I got a chance to run in the Replacements race on Tuesday night, so that was my first taste of Talladega in iRacing. It had a lot of the same factors that you deal with running the real thing. You just have to try and stay out of trouble and put yourself in a position to have a shot toward the end of the race. The biggest difference is, obviously, there’s a lot less consequences and no torn-up equipment like the real thing.”
Cole Custer: “Going into Talladega, I’m hoping we can just get to the end of the race.”
Matt DiBenedetto: “I would guess (the race is) going to be great entertainment. I’m kind of curious to see if everyone goes all out or plays it safe.”
Austin Dillon: “I really enjoy superspeedway races like Talladega. I feel like as a whole at Richard Childress Racing, we’ve been really close to winning. It’s a very cool track so it will be interesting to experience it virtually. The key is going to be avoiding the melee.”
Kevin Harvick: “The whole iRacing process is sort of overwhelming for me. I finally just said, ‘The heck with it. I’m going to go race.’ And it’s just like racing anything else – if you don’t go race, you just get further behind, because everyone is getting better.”
Erik Jones: “Talladega is always a pretty crazy race and I expect in iRacing for it to be no different, if not crazier. Should be interesting. I’m sure some guys will put in some practice this week, probably not quite as much as what was done for the races we’ve done this years, but guys will be learning how to draft and how all that works in iRacing compared to the real world. I’m excited and hopefully we stay out of trouble and can go up and contend. I think this is our best shot at a win.”
Tyler Reddick: “Talladega Superspeedway is wild, both in real life and virtually. It’s a big, wide track that lends itself to being a little bit more aggressive than you can be at Daytona International Speedway.”
Daniel Suarez: “I have no idea what to expect, to be honest. I don’t know if there’s anything different we can do to prepare for this one. The real races on the superspeedways are already unpredictable. I think you can say, for sure, that this one will be even more unpredictable after some of the crazy things we have seen happen on the short tracks the last few weeks. The key to winning on the superspeedway is always about being smart and patient, so that will need to happen this week, for sure.”
Bubba Wallace will not race today:
I can't sit at the rig all day and burn laps, I'd go crazy. Before this pandemic, I hadn't turned on my racing rig in atleast 6-8 months. So I decided to opt out of this one and watch the madness. Y'all have fun🤘🏾
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) April 25, 2020