• Race: GEICO 70 (Round 5)
• Series: eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series
• Time/Date: 1 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 26
• Location: Virtual Talladega Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval)
• Distance: 70 laps (186.2 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
• We Need a Bigger Podium: Last Sunday’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race from virtual Richmond Raceway had 971,000 viewers tune in to the simulcast on FOX and FS1, making it the third-most watched esports event in U.S. television history. The March 29 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race from virtual Texas Motor Speedway remains on the podium’s top step with 1.34 million viewers. The April 5 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race from virtual Bristol Motor Speedway takes the second step with 1.179 million viewers. The first eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race March 22 at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway earned 903,000 viewers on FS1 alone. And while the Texas race dwarfed that number by 47 percent, the Homestead race was, for at least one week, the most watched esports event in U.S. television history, having bested the previous record of 770,000 viewers when Mortal Kombat aired on The CW in 2016.
• iRacing’s Real-World Context: Last Sunday’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race from Richmond was the second-most watched sports event of the weekend. The most-watched sports event? Michael Jordan ‘The Last Dance’ documentary on ESPN.
• New Viewers Assimilate to Sim Racing: According to Nielsen, one million unique viewers who did not watch any of the four real-life NASCAR Cup Series races prior to the sports industry’s necessary hiatus to combat the spread of the coronavirus did tune in to one of the four eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series races held thus far.
• Kind of a Big Deal: A total of 5.4 million unique viewers have watched at least one eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race via FOX, FS1 and the FOX Sports app.
• Bet On It: The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series has been cleared and approved by the Nevada Gaming Control Board for wagering. Two types of bets are allowed for the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series: winner of the race and head-to-head winner between drivers. Provisions for licensing the event includes a posting of the official rules for the tournament organizer and that all bets must cease once a race has started. Additionally, each bookmaker is allowed to create its own odds.
Daniel Suárez, Driver of the No. 96 CommScope Toyota Camry:
“It’s our first race on a superspeedway after racing on the short tracks the last two weeks. 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. It would be great to have a really good finish with our CommScope Toyota.”
• This is Suárez’s fourth eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race.
• Suárez started sixth and finished 18th in the previous eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race – the Toyota Owners 150 at Richmond.
• In actual NASCAR Cup Series racing at Talladega, Suárez has six career starts with a best finish of 10th (April 2018).
• Outside of the NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega, Suárez has three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts (best finish is seventh in April 2016) and one NASCAR Gander Outdoors & RV Truck Series start (finished 15th in October 2014).
• The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series is an exhibition esports series featuring a collection of past and present racecar drivers from the NASCAR Cup Series.
• The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series is a multi-week series emulating the original 2020 NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
• With the sports world on hiatus due to the coronavirus, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series exists in place of actual NASCAR events.