eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series

Getty Images

What Cup drivers said after iRacing event at virtual Dover

Leave a comment

William Byron — Winner:

Christopher Bell — Finished 2nd: 

Timmy Hill – Finished 3rd:

Erik Jones — finished 4th:

Michael McDowell – Finished 5th:

Denny Hamlin — Finished 6th:

Ryan Blaney — Finished 7th:

Alex Bowman — Finished 8th:

Garrett Smithley – Finished 9th:

Cole Custer – Finished 12th:

Kyle Busch — Finished 15th: 

Kurt Busch — Finished 16th:

Ross Chastain — Finished 17th:

Kevin Harvick – Finished 18th:

Corey LaJoie — Finished 20th:

Joey Gase — Finished 24th:

Tyler Reddick — Finished 25th:

Ryan Preece — Finished 29th:

Regan Smith – Finished 31st:

Parker Kligerman — Finished 34th:

Matt DiBenedetto – Finished 36th:

Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola ready to dive in at virtual Talladega

Getty Images
Leave a comment

If iRacing was a lake, Kevin Harvick is ready to dive back in while Aric Almirola is about to get wet for the first time.

Harvick will be taking part in his second-ever iRacing event in this Sunday’s Geico 70 at a virtual Talladega Superspeedway. He finished 29th in his eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series debut last Sunday at a virtual Richmond Raceway.

Harvick is still lamenting how he finished next-to-last in the 30-car field, beating only his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer, who was dead last.

“The whole iRacing process is sort of overwhelming for me,” Harvick said in a media release. “I finally just said, ‘The heck with it. I’m going to go race.’

“It’s just like racing anything else – if you don’t go race, you just get further behind, because everyone is getting better. So, I decided to dive in at Richmond.”

Harvick qualified 17th at Richmond, but right after that is when things began to get discombobulated. Here’s how the driver of the No. 4 Ford Mustang continued his woeful tale (sorry, but you can’t help but laugh at what he went through):

“I was running fine, but you’ve got your spotter in one ear, and you’ve also got the engine noise from the car. Plus, I was on Skype because the team was broadcasting on Twitch.

“So, I’ve got my laptop on my left, my iPad on my right, and my phone on the floor, and I’ve got all this stuff going on in my ear. I’m at the point in my iRacing career where if something flashes on the screen or something is in my ear, it distracts me because I have to be so focused on what I’m doing because I don’t really know what I’m doing.

“So, I’m running along there and have passed a couple of cars and all of a sudden we’re having trouble with the laptop with FOX connecting. Before the race, I sent them my other Skype account and said use this one because it’s on my iPad. Then in the race, I hit the car on the left side of me, and then I hit the guy on the right side of me and I brake checked the guy behind me. Well, it was because my iPad rings into my headset, so I don’t hear the engine noise, my spotter, nothing, because it’s that crazy Skype ring.

“I jerk the wheel to the right and to the left. I’m reaching over trying to shut the iPad off. I’m trying to hit send, but the facial recognition says use your passcode. So, I’m trying to reach over to grab the iPad and, meanwhile, I’m hitting everyone who is around me. From that point, it kind of spiraled out of control.”

Harvick vows to redeem himself this Sunday at what is arguably NASCAR’s hardest track. In 38 career starts at the 2.6-mile high-banked superspeedway in real life, Harvick has just one win (10 years ago in 2010), along with seven top-five and 15 top-10 finishes.

As for Almirola, he has a great deal of confidence coming to ‘Dega. But you can potentially chalk that up to youthful exuberance or naiveté, as Sunday will be his iRacing rookie debut.

“Well, I’ve won at Talladega before (fall 2018), so it shouldn’t be that hard, right?” the driver of the No. 10 Ford quipped in a media release. “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.”

But that doesn’t mean Almirola is totally pessimistic about his chances. Just like in real life, success at ‘Dega oftentimes comes down to being in the right place at the right time – like the last lap.

“It’ll be interesting to make my Pro Invitational debut at Talladega where we’ll just have to survive,” said Almirola, who has a record of one win, four top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 20 career starts at the real-life superspeedway. “Who knows, maybe I’ll be one of the last guys standing and have a shot at it.

“Whether we wreck on the first lap or have a decent day, this is just a lot of fun for race fans, my fans, and to get back on track – even a virtual track.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Results from eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at Richmond

Getty Images
Leave a comment

William Byron became the first driver to win two races in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, holding off a late challenge by Timmy Hill to capture Sunday’s event at a virtual Richmond Raceway.

Byron led the final 95 laps to take his second consecutive checkered flag, having won the previous race, held two weeks ago at a virtual Bristol Motor Speedway. Others winning before him were Denny Hamlin (Homestead) and Hill (Texas).

Hill had tapped Byron to win at Texas and tried to repeat the move at Richmond but couldn’t get close enough to do so after the final restart with three laps to go.

Click here for full results from Sunday’s race.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

William Byron wins Richmond to claim 2nd straight iRacing Cup win

Getty Images
Leave a comment

William Byron made it back-to-back victories, capturing Sunday’s Toyota Owners 150 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series event at a virtual Richmond Raceway.

There were only two leaders in the 150-lap race: Ryan Preece led the first 59 laps, while Byron set the pace for the final 95 laps.

Timmy Hill finished second, continuing his run of success in the series as the only driver to have top-three finishes in each of the first four races, including a win at Texas three weeks back.

Hill couldn’t get close enough to Byron to do a bump-and-run on the last lap as he did to win at virtual Texas.

Finishing third through fifth were NASCAR On NBC analyst Parker Kligerman, Landon Cassill and Kyle Busch.

Sixth through 10th were Homestead winner Denny Hamlin. Erik Jones, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bubba Wallace and Brad Keselowski.

MORE:  Race results

Even a late caution with three laps left following a significant crash that included Ryan Blaney and several other drivers did not rattle Byron, who is one of the most successful drivers on the iRacing platforms.

Byron got a great jump on the restart and held on to take the checkered flag.

“Probably not, honestly,” Byron told FOX Sports when asked if he’d even be in NASCAR if it hadn’t been for all his iRacing experience. “I wasn’t in a racing family growing up, so this was really the avenue to cut my teeth in, obviously a much different way than most guys.”

After originally announcing a field of 26 drivers, the lineup was expanded and a last chance qualifier was added Sunday. Transferring to the main event were NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Labonte (substituting for Martin Truex Jr.), Dale Earnhardt Jr., Landon Cassill and Daniel Suarez.

While appreciative of being able to keep his skills sharp on the iRacing format, Byron is optimistic that real-life racing will return soon. NASCAR has stated it plans on running all 32 remaining Cup races. Sunday, five North Carolina senators urged the Gov. Roy Cooper to allow NASCAR to race at Charlotte Motor Speedway without fans. The next scheduled Cup races are the All-Star Race on May 16 and Coca-Cola 600 on May 24 at Charlotte.

NASCAR has also said it hopes to continue competition on the iRacing format even after real-life racing returns. Byron said he’d like to also see it, particularly during off-season.

“I think it’ll be interesting for sure,” Byron said. “Right now, this is working well, so we’ll just continue doing it until we get back

“It’d be cool to (continue online racing) during the offseason. There’s a lot of cool things we can do. I would enjoy doing that in the future, whether it’s NASCAR or whatever. Hopefully that will continue.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

NASCAR iRacing returns this weekend at virtual Richmond Raceway

Getty Images
Leave a comment

UPDATE: NASCAR and iRacing announced Thursday that they will increase the field to 30 drivers for Sunday’s eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series. Two will come from a qualifying race, which has been added (and will be held at 10:30 a.m. ET Sunday – no TV, no streaming) and two provisionals chosen by Fox. Qualifying race will be 25 laps, no yellows  and no resets. Qualifying race is open to all Cup drivers. The feature race will be 150 laps.

After an off weekend, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series gets back on track Sunday at virtual Richmond Raceway.

A smaller field of 26 current and former NASCAR Cup drivers – down from fields of 35 drivers at Homestead and Texas and 32 at Bristol — will take to the .750-mile virtual track in the Toyota Owners 150. Drivers not on the preliminary entry list for Sunday’s race include Dale Earnhardt Jr., Landon Cassill, Bobby Labonte, Daniel Suarez, Michael McDowell and the suspended Kyle Larson.

Bubba Wallace, who was criticized for prematurely quitting the race at a virtual Bristol Motor Speedway on April 5, is back in the preliminary entry list for Sunday’s race.

There will be one scheduled reset period for repairs during the 150-lap virtual race, which will be televised on FOX, FS1 and the FOX Sports App at 1 p.m. ET. Mike Joy, Jeff Gordon and Larry McReynolds will call the action, with Cup regular Clint Bowyer serving as in-race contributor.

Due to the smaller car count, there will be no qualifying races or heat races to set the field for the main event.

Denny Hamlin won the first virtual race on March 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, followed by Timmy Hill (March 29 at Texas Motor Speedway) and William Byron (April 5 at Bristol Motor Speedway).

Sunday’s main event will be preceded a day earlier by the second edition of Saturday Night Thunder.

NASCAR Cup drivers not competing in Sunday’s race, as well as drivers from the Xfinity, Trucks and ARCA series, are among those eligible to take part. All drivers will compete in virtual Xfinity Series cars.

The Saturday Night Thunder race will be televised on NASCAR’s YouTube channel and eNASCAR.com/live at 8 p.m. ET.

Here is the preliminary entry list for Sunday’s Toyota Owners 150:

No. Driver Affiliation
1 Kurt Busch Chip Ganassi Racing
2 Brad Keselowski Team Penske
3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing
4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing
6 Ross Chastain Roush Fenway Racing
9 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports
11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing
12 Ryan Blaney Team Penske
13 Ty Dillon Germain Racing
14 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing
17 Chris Buescher Roush Fenway Racing
18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing
20 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing
21 Matt DiBenedetto Wood Brothers Racing
22 Joey Logano Team Penske
24 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports
31 Tyler Reddick Richard Childress Racing
37 Ryan Preece JTG Daugherty Racing
38 John Hunter Nemechek Front Row Motorsports
43 Bubba Wallace Richard Petty Motorsports
48 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports
51 Garrett Smithley Invitational
66 Timmy Hill Invitational
77 Parker Kligerman Invitational
88 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports
95 Christopher Bell Leavine Family Racing

Follow @JerryBonkowski