• Gimme Five: The five most watched esports events in U.S. television history are as follows…
1. March 29 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race from virtual Texas Motor Speedway with 1.34 million viewers.
2. April 26 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race from virtual Talladega Superspeedway with 1.24 million viewers.
3. April 5 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race from virtual Bristol Motor Speedway with 1.179 million viewers.
4. April 19 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race from virtual Richmond Raceway with 971,000 viewers.
5. March 22 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race from virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway with 903,000 viewers.
• Trivia Time: Prior to the debut of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, what was the most watched esports event in U.S. television history? Mortal Kombat when it aired on The CW in 2016. That was four years ago, seemingly the equivalent of the time period between March 13 and April 30, 2020, and roughly six times longer than Han Solo was frozen in carbonite.
• 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.
• The iRacing undercard event the day prior to Sunday’s headlining eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race is the Saturday Night Thunder race where drivers compete in virtual NASCAR Xfinity Series cars. The Thunder event complements the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Xfinity Series driver, Chase Briscoe, will compete in Saturday Night Thunder.
• The livestream of Saturday Night Thunder begins at 8 p.m. EDT on eNASCAR.com/live. Single-car qualifying begins at 8:05 p.m., which sets the lineup for four, 10-lap heat races, with each heat race including as many as 20 drivers. Six cars advance from each heat to the feature, with the final two spots in the 26-car field coming from the top-two finishers of a 15-lap consolation race, which takes place after the heat races and is comprised of drivers who have not yet qualified. The 125-lap feature race then follows.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang:
“Probably the biggest difference in iRacing is the motion. They’ve done a really good job of developing their racetracks with the signs and cracks and bumps and the different things that go with them, but with iRacing, I have it all turned off on my Busch Light Ford Mustang. You can feel it a little bit in the pedals and the steering wheel, but for me, with the more you turn off on iRacing, the better it is.”
• This is Harvick’s third eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race.
• Harvick started 24th and finished 12th in the previous eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at Talladega.
• In actual NASCAR Cup Series racing at Dover, Harvick has two wins, eight top-five and 19 top-10 finishes with 1,443 laps led in 38 career starts.
• Harvick’s Dover victories came in October 2015 and May 2018.
Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang:
“Dover is one of my favorite tracks in real life, but after iRacing last weekend at Talladega in my Smithfield Ford Mustang, I know it’s an entirely different feel. We finished 18th last weekend after knocking some rust off. It’s going to be tough to get up to speed with a lot of these guys with the limited amount of practice I’ll have. Being a homeschool teacher and dad during the week doesn’t free up much time, so the young guys have even more of an advantage on us. I’m looking forward to iRacing at a track like Dover where we’re up on the wheel the entire race. It will be fun for me to try a new track style and, as always, fun for the fans watching again.”
• This is Almirola’s second eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race.
• Almirola started 21st and finished 18th in his eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series debut last Sunday at Talladega.
• In actual NASCAR Cup Series racing at Dover, Almirola has two top-five and three top-10 finishes with 64 laps led in 15 career starts.
• Almirola’s best Dover finish is fifth, earned twice (May 2015 and October 2015).
Cole Custer, driver of the No. 41 Haas Tooling Ford Mustang:
“Things from real life definitely apply to iRacing, but you also have to learn all the other little things that are unique to iRacing. This time has definitely opened my mind to iRacing. I think in the future I’ll want to try and use it a little more for races coming up in my Haas Tooling Ford Mustang, because it can be a good tool to just knock the rust off before going somewhere. I’m looking forward to Dover because I’ve done well there in the past, but I know there’s going to be things to learn. When I won Dover I knew I was always going to have that trophy out somewhere in my house. It’s in my bedroom right now. It’s a trophy that’s so unique and awesome that everyone wants it and has it circled on the schedule.”
• This is Custer’s second eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race.
• Custer started 23rd and finished 26th in his eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series debut last Sunday at Talladega.
• In actual racing, Custer has made a total of six Xfinity Series starts at Dover. He has four top-five and five top-10 finishes with a total of 224 laps led, highlighted by a win last October. He is a NASCAR Cup Series rookie and has yet to make a Cup Series start at Dover.
• Custer also has three NASCAR Gander Outdoors & RV Truck Series starts at Dover, with a best finish of fifth in May 2016.
• Before Custer advanced to the Truck Series, he raced in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, making two starts at Dover with a best finish of 14th in September 2013.
Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 98 Production Alliance GroupFord Mustang:
“I’m really looking forward to Saturday’s race at Dover and being back in the Production Alliance Group Ford Mustang. Dover is a track I was really excited to get to before the season was put on hold, and this paint scheme is one of my favorites. I know everyone from Production Alliance Group has been following along each week, so hopefully I can put it in victory lane for them on Saturday.”
• This is Briscoe’s third Saturday Night Thunder race. In his last outing at Talladega, he won his heat race and started second in the feature before finishing 34th.
• Briscoe is an iRacing regular, with most of his races coming in the Xfinity Series.
• 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 made a total of four starts at Dover – three in the Xfinity Series (best finish is fifth, earned twice, May 2019 and October 2019, where he started from the pole), and one in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors & RV Truck Series (finished 12th after starting from the pole in June 2017).