NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge

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Watch Short Track iRacing Challenge finale at Martinsville at 7 p.m. ET

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After three days of preliminary races, NBC’s eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge comes to its big conclusion today.

Following dual heat races on the digital versions of Rockingham, Lucas Oil Raceway and Myrtle Beach, the series concludes on a virtual Martinsville Speedway at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

A field of 10 drivers, made up of winners of the heat races and recipients of Peacock Provisionals, will go for the win in a 90-lap race.

Drivers competing are Dale Earnhardt Jr., William Byron, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, Chase Briscoe, Parker Kligerman, Ryan Preece and Landon Cassill.

Preece, Cassill win at Myrtle Beach to reach Short Track Challenge title race

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Ryan Preece and Landon Cassill won the two final qualifying heat races Wednesday in the NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge at a virtual Myrtle Beach Speedway.

The two advance to Thursday night’s 90-lap championship race at a virtual Martinsville Speedway. They join William Byron, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and Peacock provisional Denny Hamlin.

Three other drivers were added by NBC Sports NASCAR analyst Steve Letarte to Thursday’s race to make it a 10-car field: Chase Briscoe, Parker Kligerman and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“Oh, am i in?” Earnhardt asked Letarte when told the news. “That’s easy. I’ll do it for dinner.”

The field was inverted for the second race, with Myatt Snider starting on the pole after finishing last in the first race.

Using a strategy that backfired, Snider almost immediately dropped to the back of the six-car field, opening the way for Cassill to take the lead. That was according to Cassill’s strategy, as he wanted to take the lead early and be leading by the halfway point of the 45-lap race.

“I felt in that first race they oversaved (tires) a little bit,” Cassill said. “I looked at my tire wear after the race and they were actually really reasonable, so I thought I could push a lot harder for the entire race instead of wait. That was my plan and I did it.”

Earnhardt overtook Matt DiBenedetto to move into third with 13 laps to go and had Cassill and Timmy Hill in front. But DiBenedetto regained the third spot with seven laps to go.

The finishing order in the second race was: Cassill, Hill, DiBenedetto, Preece, Earnhardt and Snider.

In the first race, Preece took the lead with 17 laps to go and held off a challenge by Earnhardt, who finished runner-up.

“You don’t want to show your poker hand, you have to play it the way you want,” Preece said. “That was pretty cool. I’m sweating right now.”

The finish of the first race was: Preece, Earnhardt, DiBenedetto, Cassill, Hill and Snider.

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Short Track Challenge moves to virtual Myrtle Beach 7 pm ET on NBCSN

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The two final qualifying heat races for the NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge take place tonight at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

The races will be held at a virtual Myrtle Beach Speedway.

Drivers competing are Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt DiBenedetto, Landon Cassill, Timmy Hill, Ryan Preece and Myatt Snider.

The winner of each race advances to Thursday night’s 90-lap championship race at a virtual Martinsville Speedway. NASCAR on NBC analyst Steve Letarte also can choose a Peacock Provisional to advance to the title race.

Drivers that have advanced to Thursday’s deciding race are William Byron, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell, as well as Peacock provisional Denny Hamlin.

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Stewart-Haas trio remembers final Myrtle Beach Xfinity race

Kevin Harvick
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You never know when you’ll cross paths with people you’ll later win a NASCAR Cup Series title with.

But that happened on June 17, 2000 for Kevin Harvick and his future crew chief Rodney Childers and spotter Tim Fedewa.

Their personal narratives intertwined for a weekend at Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina, the track the third round of the NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge will occur at 7 p.m. ET today

Fourteen years before they were paired on the No. 4 Cup car, they raced against each other in the final Xfinity (Busch) Series race on the .538-mile track.

Harvick was in the middle of his rookie year driving Richard Childress Racing’s No. 2 Chevrolet.

Childers, a veteran winner on the late model circuit, made his first and only Xfinity Series start. He did it in the No. 49 car owned by future Premium Motorsports owner Jay Robinson.

Tim Fedewa was making one of his 333 career Xfinity starts.

They barely knew each other.

“I did not know anything about Rodney Childers at that particular time,” Harvick said in a media release.

“I knew of Rodney, but I didn’t know him,” Fedewa said in the media release. “But I remember talking with him at Myrtle Beach that weekend. I think that was the first time I ever talked with him.”

“I knew who they were,” Childers recalled in the media release. “About that time, Kevin was going to be moving up to run some Cup races and they needed somebody to run the races he couldn’t run, and I was actually trying to talk to them about running those races.”

They each have varying recollections of the race weekend, but Childers said he remembers “everything about it.”

“I started driving for (Robinson) that year and we were racing in what is now called the CARS tour. We went to the first six races and won all of them.”

After being asked to leave the series due to their dominance, Robinson eyed the Busch Series and purchased a car at an auction.

Their team that showed up at Myrtle Beach team consisted of only three people.

“We went out for qualifying and there were (47 cars) there for the race,” Childers recalled. “Everybody had been picking up on their second lap, so I was going to take it easy on my first lap and get after it on my second lap. Well, my first lap, I was actually quick enough for 30th out of 57. My second lap, I buried it in the corner and got loose. Threw the lap away.”

It wasn’t far into the 250-lap race that Childers discovered his car wasn’t up to snuff.

“About Lap 10, I found out I didn’t have any brakes,” Childers said. “But we were just riding around there and Randy LaJoie and Jeff Purvis got together in Turn 1. Everyone was checking up and Blaise Alexander was in front of me and he turned down into my right front because someone turned into him. I jerked the wheel to the left, but got hit and the next thing I knew I was nosed into the inside wall in Turn 1.”

Childers would finish last in his only Xfinity start, but he doesn’t mind.

“To be able to make the race with that many cars was actually a huge accomplishment,” Childers said. “There were a lot of people back then that were missing Busch races.”

Not among those missing races were Fedewa and Harvick.

For Fedewa, he was competing in his eighth Myrtle Beach race.

“You forget the level of competition,” Fedewa said of the 2000 race. “I ran between 13th and 10th and I can’t believe how hard it was to even get to 10th.”

Fedewa was involved in two wrecks. The last, a one-car incident, took him out on Lap 197. He finished 38th.

“You probably had 45 good teams that were just racing in the Busch Series,” Fedewa said. “Maybe they didn’t run all of them, but they ran most of them. The short tracks, it was doable for a late model team to buy a car and compete. Because we didn’t have wind tunnel time, a short track team could buy a car or build a car, go to Myrtle Beach and make the show.”

As for Harvick, he started on the front row with Jeff Green and would lead the initial 25 laps in his first and only visit to the track.

“Going there for the first time, I didn’t have the right concept of what I was supposed to be doing with saving tires and stuff like that. I was hammer down all the time,” Harvick said.

The only other thing that Harvick remembers is “I jacked (Green) up at one point just trying the mess with him because that’s just what we did back in those days. Jeff and I went back and forth during the 2000 and 2001 time period. He was sort of the guy at that point, and I wanted to be the guy. I thought running into him was the best way to get the most attention. Obviously, in the today’s world, you realize that beating him would’ve been much better.”

Harvick finished second to Green, who claimed one of his six victories on the way to a championship.

It’s WednesDale today on NBCSN starting at 1 p.m. ET

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NBCSN’s Racing Week in America continues today with “WednesDale,” a day of Dale Earnhardt Jr.-themed content starting at 1 p.m. ET.

The day’s programming is highlighted at 8 p.m. ET by a broadcast of the July 2001 Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway, where Earnhardt won in the Cup Series’ first visit to the track after his father was killed on the last lap of the Daytona 500 earlier in February.

It was the first of four points wins for Earnhardt at Daytona.

At 7 p.m. ET is the third round of NBC’s eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge, which will hold two heat races on a digital Myrtle Beach Speedway. Earnhardt will join current NASCAR drivers Timmy Hill, Myatt Snider, Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Preece and Landon Cassill.

“WednesDale” comes the day after Earnhardt was announced as a nominee for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Wednesday morning Earnhardt announced he had accepted an invitation to participate in Saturday’s IndyCar iRacing Challenge event at Michigan International Speedway.

 

COVERAGE

TIME (ET)

NETWORK

NASCAR – Talladega Superspeedway 2019

1 p.m.

NBCSN

NASCAR – Chicagoland Speedway 2018

3 p.m.

NBCSN

NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge – Myrtle Beach

7 p.m.

NBCSN

NASCAR – Daytona International Speedway, July 2001

8 p.m.

NBCSN

NASCAR – Talladega Superspeedway 2017

10 p.m.

NBCSN

NASCAR – Martinsville Speedway 2005

12 a.m.

NBCSN

The Dale Jr. Download

2 a.m.

NBCSN