• Race: O’Reilly Auto Parts 125 (Round 2)
• Series: eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series
• Time/Date: 1 p.m. EDT on Sunday, March 29
• Location: Virtual Texas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
• Distance: 125 laps (187.5 miles)
Where to Watch:
• FOX network
• Announcers: Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds, with in-race commentary from Clint Bowyer.
• FS1 (DIRECTV Channel 219 and Dish Channel 150)
• FOX Sports Racing for fans in Canada
• Last Sunday’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway was the single most-watched esports event in U.S. history. The race drew 903,000 viewers on FS1, besting the previous high of 770,000 viewers when Mortal Kombat aired on The CW in 2016.
• The race was the highest-rated broadcast on FS1 since mass postponements of sporting events began on March 15.
• During the race, the #ProInvitationalSeries was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter in the United States.
• The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series is an exhibition esports series featuring a collection of actual racecar drivers from the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.
• The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series kicked off last Sunday at Homestead and it is a multi-week series emulating the original 2020 NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
• With the sports world on a necessary hiatus to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series exists in place of actual NASCAR events.
• Each race in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series consists of 35 drivers and all races are broadcast by FOX Sports.
Clint Bowyer, Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang:
“We’ve had a partnership with iRacing on our dirt late model team for several years and we’ve run an iRacing team since last year. I've always jumped on it from time to time even though a lot of people don’t know that. My favorite thing to do on iRacing is not my day job. I came from dirt racing, so I love to get on there and burn laps on a dirt late model, a sprint car or midget. Heck, I’ve even done off-road truck racing. Those are my favorite things to do. A lot of my fans and peers get on and run Cup races and tracks we race on every week. For me, iRacing gives me a chance to drive something I’ve always wanted to drive, but never had the chance. That’s why I love iRacing, and I love the fact that this Pro Invitational Series has made more people aware of iRacing. Now, that means more eyeballs on us this Sunday, so I need to step up my game and put my Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang up front.”
• Bowyer started 11th and finished 16th in last week’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at Homestead.
• Bowyer considers himself a hobby iRacer. Last Sunday’s race at Homestead was his first official iRacing start in a virtual NASCAR Cup Series race.
• Bowyer’s eponymous iRacing team competes in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series with drivers Brandon Kettelle and Brian Schoenberg, and Bowyer’s dirt late model team has been sponsored by iRacing for several years.
• In actual NASCAR Cup Series racing at Texas, Bowyer has four top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 28 career starts.
• Bowyer’s best Texas finish is second, earned twice (April 2011 and March 2019).
• Anheuser-Busch, the country’s largest sponsor of live sports and entertainment, is redirecting it sports and entertainment investments to its non-profit partners to respond to the coronavirus public health crisis. As part of a $5 million donation to the American Red Cross, Anheuser-Busch, alongside its sports partners, will identify available arenas and stadiums to be used for temporary blood drive centers. As part of the donation, Anheuser-Busch is donating media air time to the Red Cross in support of its public service announcements. To learn more about how to attend a blood drive, visit RedCross.org. Additionally, Anheuser-Busch is using its supply and logistics network to produce and distribute bottles of hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer will be utilized at Red Cross blood donation centers and to support emergency shelters for future relief efforts.
Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 98 Ford Performance Racing School/HighPoint.com Ford Mustang:
“It obviously hasn’t been the greatest time for anybody right now, so it’s cool to have a way to keep your mind off of it. There isn’t really anything on TV and there are no other sporting events going on, so to be the only sport that can still continue, it’s been really cool to see everybody embrace it. When the idea first came out to run iRacing on FOX, I think people were curious to see how it was going to go and concerned that it wouldn’t be like ‘real life’, but it’s as close as we can get to it. It fills that void for the racing we don’t have right now, and it’s an awesome way to keep us occupied, keep the fans involved, and the sponsors as well. And maybe we’re opening the sport up to people that normally wouldn’t pay attention. It’s been really cool to see how many fans have gotten behind it.
“It’s been quite a bit different going from the Xfinity car to the Cup car, even though it’s iRacing. It’s realistic enough that even in simulation the cars don’t drive similarly at all. In the Cup Series car, there’s a lot more on throttle time and a lot less brake, so Texas will be a lot of the same. We’ll be on the gas a lot and drafting down the straightaway. They’re different, but it still takes the same characteristics to go fast and win, and I got that part figured out last weekend at Homestead. Texas is kind of an unknown to me. iRacing just updated the track a few weeks ago with the repaved surface and changes to the banking, so I don’t even have any laps around there. It’ll be a learning curve for sure, and it isn’t the best feeling to know I have to race my way into the main event. We saw last weekend that anything can happen to keep some of the better guys from being in the race. That being said, I feel good about our chances to run up front again with the Ford Performance Racing School/HighPoint.com Mustang.”
• Briscoe started sixth and finished fourth in last week’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at Homestead.
• Briscoe is a regular iRacer, but mainly in the Xfinity Series. Prior to Homestead, The Replacements 100 March 17 at the virtual Atlanta Motor Speedway was Briscoe’s most recent iRacing start in a virtual NASCAR Cup Series race.
• In actual racing, Briscoe has never competed in the NASCAR Cup Series. He is currently in his second full season of Xfinity Series racing.
• Briscoe has three Xfinity Series starts at Texas with a best finish of fourth, earned last March.
• Briscoe also has two Truck Series starts at Texas with a best finish of second, earned in June 2017. And when the Truck Series returned to Texas that November, Briscoe finished fourth.
About Stewart-Haas eSports:
NASCAR is the ultimate test of driver acumen and mechanical know-how, where teams scrutinize every detail in a never-ending quest for speed. Stewart-Haas Racing has thrived in this environment, winning races and championships to firmly establish its presence in NASCAR. Stewart-Haas eSports emulates these efforts in the virtual world, where sim technology provides a visceral experience that amplifies the grit and determination of NASCAR drivers in the real world. Stewart-Haas eSports is a natural extension of Stewart-Haas Racing, where competition and simulation are one. For more information, please visit us online at www.StewartHaasRacing.com and follow on Twitter @SHR_eSports.