Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest

William Byron adds his name to the record books by taking his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet to victory lane in the Food City Showdown at virtual Bristol Motor Speedway, the third race of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.
 
With the postponement of all NASCAR on-track activity through May 3rd, NASCAR and iRacing joined forces to start the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. The sim racing series features competitors from the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, and other NASCAR dignitaries. The 150-lap simulation race virtually took place at the half-mile oval of Bristol Motor Speedway, where the NASCAR Cup series was scheduled to be in-action this weekend.
 
Byron won heat number one in dominating fashion, leading all fifty laps and securing the pole position for the main event. Leading 116 of 150 laps in the main event, Byron’s victory adds to his impressive career iRacing stats, now totaling 309 wins. “It was a lot of fun. We had to work through some track position and really just keep ourselves up towards the top-five. Luckily, we were able to do that and make the pass on Chris Buescher, and really just manage the restarts,” says Byron.
 
Ryan Preece finished sixth in his No. 37 Bush’s Beans Chevrolet, Tyler Reddick finished eighth in his No. 31 Alsco Chevrolet, and Garrett Smithley finished ninth in his No. 51 Petty Ware Racing Chevrolet to give Team Chevy four of the top-10 finishing spots.
 
John H. Nemechek (Ford) was second, Timmy Hill (Toyota) was third, Denny Hamlin (Toyota) was fourth and Matt DiBenedetto (Ford) rounded out the top-five finishers of the race.
 
Live coverage of the remaining eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series season can be found on FOX, FS1, and the FOX Sports app.
 
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET TRANSCRIPT:
 
THE MODERATOR: Thank you to all of you for joining us. We are now joined by William Byron, driver of the No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet and the winner of today's Food City Showdown at the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway. William, congratulations. Tell us a little bit about those final laps.
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I appreciate it. I thought we had a pretty solid race. Obviously, there was a lot to kind of decipher through and try to get through, but I thought we stayed up close to the front. We had the one tire strategy call that got us back to the top 5 and then we just had to work through the top 5 methodically after that. Was really proud of how we kind of did things, and thankful for Nick Ottinger, who kind of helps me on my esports team, and AXALTA for letting us run this cool paint scheme. It looks awesome. Hopefully we can it run it sometime in the real Cup car. I had a lot of fun.
 
           Q. I'd like to start with a question about the aggressiveness on the track and kind of an overview of the race that we saw. The cautions and the parking and the drivers being really aggressive, did you expect all that?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I kind of expected it a little bit. You know, considering what guys were good and what guys were maybe not as experienced, racing on there is the same, but it really comes down to how you value how you race others, and I treat it like I would ‑‑ I race others the same way I would in the real car, and that's kind of what it takes to be good on there.
           I think you just saw some guys that weren't maybe as experienced at it maybe in the back, but I'd say the top five or ten guys really know what they're doing, and those were the guys I was worried about racing the whole time.
 
           Q. How frustrated were you last week after getting punted out of the way, and what does this win mean to you on the virtual side of things? You've been so strong on the virtual racing and obviously a very good sim racer. What does it mean to you, and were you frustrated at all during the week?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, you know, it's for fun, so I get that part of it. But like I said, I treat it ‑‑ for me mentally, I try to treat it as a race when the race is going on. After that obviously ‑‑ during the week I wasn't worried about Texas. I got over it pretty quick. But I think that it was just frustrating because we hadn't closed one yet and we had led the most laps, so to finally close the deal this week was really awesome, and yeah, I think it just is cool to see the hard work kind of pay off from obviously myself but the guys behind the scenes that are working with my esports team and stuff like that. It's cool and it's great for AXALTA and gives me some confidence, so I like that.
 
           Q. It's interesting seeing how this has sort of taken on a new intensity at times. I don't know if it's just Bristol or the fact that this has gone on a few weeks, but you had Bubba quitting in the middle of today and Larson and Suárez both getting booted. Is that something that is sort of easier to have happen in this virtual environment? Like have you ever rage quit something, or is it a sign of just the intensity of this picking up? What do you attribute all that to?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I think the easy excuse is to say, oh, it's a game and all that, but at the end of the day, everyone is racing, and seeing how much time some guys have put in, I know that it means something to them.
           You've got to race. It's race craft, and I feel like race craft is the same no matter what you're racing; whether it's on a computer or at the dirt track or at an asphalt race, it's the same. I think that's what I try to do, just stay patient, really race the top seven or eight guys. Denny is really good on here, Timmy Hill is pretty good, and John Hunter Nemechek seems pretty fast. So just try to worry about those guys.
           But yeah, obviously some of the guys further back were obviously causing some wrecks and stuff. So, you just have to get through that and try to keep yourself clean through the race.
 
           Q. A young guy like you that has time to practice, put the hours in, it's kind of not surprising that you would get up to speed in a quick way. For guys like the Busch brothers who this is their third race, how long is it going to take before we see those guys get more into the mix in the future?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I think Kyle was pretty fast this week, Busch. I thought he was ‑‑ in the practice races, I did a couple on Friday I guess it was, and Denny was really good and Kyle was pretty fast, too. I think the people that have strengths at certain racetracks are going to show up, and ultimately, it's just about kind of knowing the little nuances that are going to make you faster.
           Yeah, it's just ‑‑ I wish we would have a little bit longer runs because I think you would have seen the guys who really had it figured out. I think Kyle and Denny and some of those guys would have come to the front. But unfortunately, it's kind of a short‑run race, but really, I think those guys are starting to get it. Hopefully if I can give them some tips or whatever, then get them rolling with some of the little nuances here and there.
 
           Q. And just kind of curious, what are you doing to entertain yourself in addition to iRacing these days?
           WILLIAM BYRON: I mean, honestly, just kind of trying to have a somewhat normal routine. I stay at home, obviously, I try not to be around a bunch of people, but my family is in town. My sister, she lives in New York, but she's been in town for a few weeks now, so I've been having fun with that, just kind of seeing my sister, and that's been great.
           I feel fresh, and I feel like when we do go back racing, I'm excited for it because I use iRacing as just kind of a mental training, and I feel like I'm excited for when we do go back because we have fast cars there, too.
 
           Q. I know you talked about it being for fun and everything, but do you think you feel any more pressure to win these races because everybody knows your history in iRacing?
           WILLIAM BYRON: A little bit, yeah. I think that like the first week, I was I feel like the most nervous, and I think everyone gets nervous when they iRace just because you don't have the sound of the engine and some of those little adrenaline things that actually kick the nervousness down in the real car. So that is a little bit there, nerves for everybody, but I'd say so, yeah, just because people are like, oh, well, this is your thing and all that. Yeah, I think the first week that kind of showed. I was a little bit overaggressive knowing who I was going to race, and then this week I just tried to be patient, and it worked out pretty good.
 
           Q. You mentioned Nick Ottinger, and I know he's been a big part of what you've done with establishing William Byron Esports. What kind of things were you leaning on him for and working with him on, and do you think anything that you guys are working on together will be able to translate for those guys when they go back and compete in the Coca‑Cola Series?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I think that those guys have helped me a lot. John is a great sim racer, too, and really, I've kind of built that relationship with Nick to learn from him. He's a cool guy. I like the way he thinks. Honestly the way he thinks is similar ‑‑ we think similarly, I guess.
           When I watch him drive, I feel like I'm watching somewhat of the same things that I would do, and obviously he's really good. Yeah, I think that I just try to watch him on Tuesdays when they run the Coke Series, but hopefully ‑‑ I think he's like sixth or seventh in points right now. He finished second in the first race, so hopefully he can get a win here soon.
 
           Q. And in regards to your race, if they'd had a late‑race caution ‑‑ you had been getting away pretty good on the restarts. Were there any nerves if you'd had one more caution to worry about?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, we were just worried about the tires because I had been out there for 60 or 70 laps on the same tires, so I was a little worried that I didn't have a lot of tire left, so I just tried to keep saving until really the last two laps. But I think the tire strategy worked out perfectly. We were able to pit there about halfway, cut the race in half, which is what we wanted to do, and a couple guys stayed out but we were able to methodically work our way back to the top 5 from ninth, I think, so that was great.
 
           Q. You mentioned on your interview with the TV booth I think a few minutes ago that when you generally do iRacing these days, it's to learn or kind of improve your race craft, and you talked about how different it is to being in a competition with a much different group of guys. Could you just explain a little bit the differences between what you normally experience when you decide to do iRacing and what the last three weekends have been like?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Well, I think that you're basically ‑‑ how iRacing works is there's a rating for each driver, and that goes from like 1,000 to basically 9,000, so I'm like a 6,300 rating, so I usually race with guys that are around that range or better, and so you'll have less cautions or you'll have more quality of like race craft, and I feel like when we put our race together, it's a wide variety of experience levels, so I think that's just tough to kind of manage.
           But yeah, I try to use iRacing because it improves my race craft, and I feel like we've been doing a good job of promoting it the right way. We just have to make sure that everyone understands that there's races that you can do on there, and I try to do those races and not just run laps of practice by myself. The races that you can practice on kind of help improve my race craft, and that's why I use it to try to help me on the real car.
 
           Q. You mentioned how you race people the way you want to be raced; do you get to see that in the same sort of fashion during the iRacing as you do ‑‑ maybe not the same way, but do you see some of the same traits that you would when you are racing someone on a real track?
           WILLIAM BYRON: I think so, yeah. Definitely the tracks that you can maybe move someone out of the way or bump them out of the way are very similar. Last week obviously getting moved out of the way, I learned something there and kind of applied that towards this week. I got a little bit more aggressive with some of my moves during the week and tried to do that back to the guys so that I can kind of establish position on them.
           So, I think, yeah, really that stuff is the same. You just ‑‑ it's just a matter of kind of understanding the little nuances that are obviously going to be different than a real car. You know, you don't have the sense of smell and noise and maybe feel, but you have vision, and your vision is really critical in there.
 
           Q. Have the mid‑week practice races legitimately helped you get ready for Sunday's races, and if so, in what ways?
           WILLIAM BYRON: I think so. I think what really helps me a lot is running ‑‑ they have these races that are called A‑fixed races, and it's Class A, which is the Cup cars, so I run those. I probably ran a handful of them, less than 10 this week, but somewhere around that number. They're very similar length of race to what we just ran, so I feel like those help me. Knowing the competition, knowing who's good and fast, and Denny Hamlin was obviously my biggest threat today I feel like, so I was kind of looking out for him and what he was doing through the week.
           Yeah, I think those races are what help me kind of get better.
 
           Q. And then how much did shifting to the single‑file restarts change the race for you, if at all? Do you feel like that was a benefit for you in the late restarts?
           WILLIAM BYRON: It was tough. I mean, I think that double‑file restarts I think would have been a similar result. You know, if you were a bottom‑lane guy it's a little tough to get clear of the outside guys, so I would have had my hands full with second in a lot of instances if I didn't get a good jump. It just comes down to how good a restart you get. I feel like the single‑file restarts kind of brought the strength of certain guys to the front.
           I don't really know if it changed everything that much. It was just a little bit hard to time and try to figure out. It kind of was like running short‑track races.
 
           Q. What was going through your head there when you lost the lead for a little bit with the various pit strategies and everything because obviously it was a new position for you than the rest of the race after leading the first 73 laps. I know you had fresher tires, but it looked like once you were able to get a run on Smithley, you made pretty quick work of Bowman and DiBenedetto on the bottom, which isn't something we really saw today.
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, honestly the biggest heart‑stopping moment was when Landon Cassill cut spun or whatever and he was coming back up the track and I had to kind of go to the bottom and I was sideways for a bit. Luckily nobody was on my bumper and I was able to save it. Yeah, I'll probably look back at that moment as like the race‑winning moment, missing that and kind of able to work my way back through the field. I think I started ninth and Kurt Busch raced me really clean and Alex raced me pretty clean, and then once I got to like second I knew that all I had to do was just manage my tires to make them overcome the older tires that I had in front of me, so I just kind of hung out for a while and let Buescher, knowing that his tires were going to give up after 10 or 15 laps just because they were older, so yeah, then we had a restart there and I was able to get by him, and we ran side‑by‑side for a couple laps, so he raced me good there, too.
           Yeah, it was definitely ‑‑ things worked out to get back to the front. Luckily didn't ever really have to start in the back. I think the furthest back we were was ninth, so luckily it worked out on pit strategy.
 
           Q. Seeing more of the virtual world in racing and the talents that are displayed, how much of a recruiting tool or a development tool do you see this in the entrance into actual real‑world racing?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I think that for me, I used it obviously to get started in my racing career, and I feel like I did that because I saw guys like Dale Jr. promoting it. If I were a young kid right now and I was 10 or 12 years old and didn't have the money to get into a real race car or didn't know anybody that has a real race car, then I would definitely get into iRacing. I was a race fan that would watch NASCAR on TV, and we'd go iRace after the race was over to try to figure out what it's like to be those guys.
           I'm really fortunate that now I'm able to run the real race cars, but I definitely never forget about iRacing, kind of what it taught me.
 
           Q. The number of laps y'all are running, I noticed it went from 100 to 125 last week and then we had the heat races and the length of the race today. Do you think the number of laps is about right for driver attention span and viewer attention span?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I mean, I think it could be a little shorter. The heat races, we probably didn't really need those today. But I think that honestly it was good. I definitely would be a fan of like at Bristol there, it's obviously a 50‑lap heat race and then a 150‑lap race, that's a long time. If we ran maybe 50 laps in a heat laps and then 80 laps in the race, that would be probably good, too.
           Yeah, I think it's just a factor of the fact that it's Bristol and it's going to be a shorter race if it goes green.
 
           Q. Can you just kind of take me through the emotions and how different they are this week from last week and if it was even a case ‑‑ is this stuff so serious, how upset you got last week, and is it a case that you and Timmy actually had to talk?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I mean, I think that the biggest difference is the time that it takes for your mind to recover from what happens. I mean, obviously when the race is going, I think anybody would be dumb to tell you that they don't take it seriously because it's a race, but it took me probably an hour after the race to really cool off and realize that I was just racing on the computer and I could get over it.
           No, I didn't really think about Timmy all week. He actually sent me a message on Twitter on Thursday, and I was like, hey, it's all good. Granted, would I have raced him the same if he had been in front of me, for sure, because I kind of know the tone that he set with that move, but I wasn't worried about it after, I guess, Sunday night around 7:00.
 
           Q. You're involved in the Coca‑Cola Racing Series with your own team; at some point sports are going to come back. You guys are going to go back to racing, the focus is going to be what happens on the track. You're involved in this in the Coca‑Cola Racing, the iRacing team. How does this carry forward once sports return, because obviously there will be more focus on that? What do you guys do and how does that keep going and try to build this alternate audience?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I think what I like about this racing is that anybody can go do it, and I think that's similar to the appeal of golf and really everyone can go play golf or everyone can iRace at their own level. Like that's what I want the appeal of this to be. I want it for to be kids, and I want people that want to see what we're doing on Sundays to be able to go on there and race, and then ultimately what the Coke Series should be about is that those guys are the best at it, and I feel confident some of those guys would do well in a real car, too.
           I think that's understanding the skill level that they have, and that should hopefully bring an audience and the relatability that it has, the fact that anyone can go and try it.
 
           Q. What were your thoughts on the restarts going single file in the middle of the race both last night and today?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I think that it was kind of necessary just because of the wrecks that were going on. Bristol is a tough track, and I really think it just comes down to ‑‑ it takes some laps to kind of understand what's going on, so yeah, it's a tough track, so I didn't ‑‑ I wasn't surprised.
 
           Q. You mentioned Nick Ottinger and John Gorlinsky. How much time did you spend practicing with them this week?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, they were pretty helpful. They've been helpful since this deal got going a couple weeks ago, so it's been good to work with them. I feel like I've learned ‑‑ obviously I've raced on everything, but I've learned a lot about the little nuances that those guys do really well. I feel like that's what they've helped me with, and I've definitely grown an appreciation for how good they are.
 
           Q. How much of an advantage have they been compared to maybe some of the drivers who don't have the Coca‑Cola Series drivers to lean on?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I think really everyone has kind of found one of those guys to really reach out to. I know that Denny has a team and Austin Dillon has a team, so all those guys really know what's going on. That's the best resource that we all have is to use those guys, so I feel like everyone has figured that out pretty recently.
 
           Q. You spoke about your sim craft and mentioned earlier this week that Bristol wasn't your best track in sim and in real life. Can you talk a bit more in depth about what you can take away from today's race that may help you at Bristol later this season?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I think that honestly in Bristol recently, I've tried to work on the way that I drive the track, and I feel like the first time that I went there in the real car, everything from iRacing translated really well, and I did well, but then when I got into the Cup car I was a little bit lost. I worked on it a little bit this week, and I feel much better about it. I'm kind of excited to go back there here soon.
 
           Q. The restarts, wheel spin kind of is a big factor. What did you necessarily do to try and remedy that, especially when it came to single‑file restarts?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I think just working on them throughout the week to know what was going to happen and how it was going to feel. It really just comes down to having a clean launch. You get wheel spin at the top of the gear in second gear, so I just tried to keep my launch smooth and get through the gears well, so all that stuff worked really well, so definitely excited about how the restarts were, and hopefully can carry that over to the next race that we have.
 
           Q. When it comes to Bristol, in previous races the addition of PJ1 has been added to the bottom line, but what we noticed throughout the iRacing race, the outside line proved to be prevalent. Do you think that iRacing will eventually add that patch of PJ1 so there's a little bit more traction on that inside line?
           WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I think so. I think they'll learn that from this week. I was able to run the middle and make that work pretty well, so we just worked really hard on being able to run the middle throughout this week, and I'm fortunate that that paid off for us.
           THE MODERATOR: William, thank you again for joining us today.
           WILLIAM BYRON: No problem. Thank you.
           THE MODERATOR: And thank you to all the media for joining us, as well.
 
GM Racing PR

Details:

 

• Race:  Food City Showdown (Round 3)

• Series:  eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series

• Date:  Sunday, April 5

• Location:  Virtual Bristol Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)

• Winner:  William Byron of Hendrick Motorsports

 

Format:

 

• After a one-hour practice, drivers participated in single-car qualifying.

• Qualifying set the respective fields for the two heat races.

• Drivers who qualified in an odd position (first, third, fifth, etc.) were placed in Heat No. 1.

• Drivers who qualified in an even position (second, fourth, sixth, etc.) were placed in Heat No. 2.

• Each heat race was 50 laps, and each included 16 drivers.

• Heat races set the field for the 150-lap feature.

    • Heat No. 1 winner: William Byron of Hendrick Motorsports

    • Heat No. 2 winner: John Hunter Nemechek of Front Row Motorsports

 

Stewart-Haas eSports Results:

 

• 50-Lap Heat Race

    • Clint Bowyer (Started 15th, Finished 16th / Accident, completed 37 of 50 laps)

 

• 150-Lap Feature

    • Clint Bowyer (Started 32nd, Finished 11th / Running, completed 150 of 150 laps)

 

Clint Bowyer, Driver of the No. 14 Smithfield Ford Mustang:

 

“I’m worn out. I’m sweaty. I’m frustrated. I’m mad. But, man, it was still a lot of fun. Bristol is a very challenging racetrack, as it is in real life. I can’t wait to get back on a bigger track and, more importantly, back in real life. Bristol is such a fun track, such a fun weekend. I had people texting me all week saying what they would be doing at that particular moment. Cool track… not so cool virtually.”

 

Notes:

 

• 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 a necessary hiatus to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series exists in place of actual NASCAR events.

 

Next Up:

 

• Stewart-Haas eSports returns to action on Tuesday, April 14 in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series race at the virtual Richmond Raceway with drivers Justin Bolton and Dylan Duval.

 

• The race starts at 9 p.m. EDT with live coverage via:

    • eNASCAR.com/live

    • Facebook.com/NASCAR

    • YouTube.com/NASCAR

    • Twitch.tv/iRacing

 

• Bolton enters Richmond fresh off a 10th-place finish in the series’ last race March 31 at Bristol. It was Bolton’s first top-10 of the season and it bettered his previous best season result of 17th earned March 17 at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway. Duval’s best finish so far this year is 15th at Homestead.

 

TSC PR

Chris Buescher led 30 laps and Ross Chastain ran inside the top-10 in Sunday’s iRacing Pro Invitational Series event from the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway, before going on to finish 23rd and 16th, respectively.

Buescher, who has just three iRacing starts in his career, used virtual strategy to stay out at one point during the 150-lap race, and led 30 laps before getting caught up in an unfortunate incident late. Chastain, piloting the Coca-Cola/Nutrien Ag Solutions Ford, battled back from a lap down to get inside the top-10, before being shuffled back in the last 10 laps.

Buescher rolled off 28th in his SunnyD eMustang, and was caught up in a multi-car accident at lap 45. From there, he used one of his two allowed resets on the day, before getting back up to 15th by lap 60.

As a series of varying strategy played out, Buescher stayed out, grabbing the lead by lap 80. As the caution came out again at lap 102, Buescher maintained the point on 61-lap old tires, twice that of any car in the field, and was second with 30 laps left.

But, as the laps wound down, the No. 2 and No. 22 machines were caught up in a wreck towards the back of the pack, as Keselowski was facing backwards on track, and Buescher had nowhere to go, ending his run inside the top five. He used his final reset before going on to finish 23rd.

Chastain rolled off the grid 20th in the No. 6 machine, and fought his way through a series of early cautions. After going a lap down by lap 60 in the 25th position, he got back on the lead lap a few laps later, powering his way to 10th by lap 106.

After staying out under a yellow, also playing strategy, Chastain fired off 15th with 30 laps to go. He sat ninth with nine laps remaining, before being shuffled back on the final pair of restarts to finish 16th.

RFR PR

While Bristol Motor Speedway awaits a new date for its fan-favorite Food City 500 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) race, the eyes of the racing world will still be on The Last Great Colosseum on Sunday, April 5 as NASCAR’s top stars compete short-track style on a virtual replica of the famed half-mile all-concrete oval.

The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, created following the postponement of traditional NASCAR Cup Series competition due to the COVID-19 virus, will see NASCAR Cup Series drivers past and present take on the demanding high banks of Bristol during the Food City Showdown. Race action will feature two 50-lap heat races to determine the final starting lineup for the 150-lap main event and will air nationally on the FOX broadcast network (where available and subject to change), FS1 and the FOX Sports app and feature the FOX NASCAR broadcast team of Mike Joy, Jeff Gordon and Larry McReynolds. Green flag is set for shortly after 1 p.m. with the broadcast welcoming former New England Patriots great Rob Gronkowski and current WWE superstar Mojo Rawley as co-Grand Marshals.

"The NASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series has been a great way to keep fans engaged during a tough situation and we're thankful to NASCAR, iRacing and FOX for pushing forward," said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway. "It's going to be surreal to see some of NASCAR's biggest names compete on a virtual version of The Last Great Colosseum. Race fans get the best of both worlds: a virtual short track race providing some sense of normality during our originally scheduled race date as well as the opportunity to return to the track for the eventual running of the Food City 500."

iRacing is the world’s premier motorsports racing simulation, allowing competitors to experience NASCAR in a virtual format. iRacing is a fun, inexpensive and highly competitive way for race enthusiasts to experience the head-to-head challenges that professional racers experience in competition. Virtual Bristol Motor Speedway is sure to be a test for the stars of NASCAR.

“Bristol Motor Speedway on iRacing is going to be a wild race for sure, just like it is any other time we race there,” said William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Hendrick Motorsports in NCS and a longtime proponent of iRacing. “It’s a track that throws many challenges at you and I think this weekend will be no different even though we’re racing there virtually. The fast closing rates coming out of the corners, lap traffic, track position in the top lane, are all things that will come into play. Fans can also expect to see a lot of bumping and banging, that’s for sure. It’ll be entertaining for everyone involved and I’m excited to see how this Sunday’s race turns out.”

Along with the FOX NASCAR broadcast team in FOX’s Charlotte, N.C. studio, NASCAR Cup Series star Clint Bowyer will provide commentary as he drives in the virtual Food City Showdown. In addition to FOX coverage in the U.S., the Food City Showdown will be broadcast internationally, including on TSN and FOX Sports Racing (Canada), Motorvision/Sport 1 (Europe) and Fox Sports Australia (Australia) among other countries/territories.

The Food City Showdown will be the third event in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series following virtual races at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, but the first on a short track, meaning intensity will be at an all-time high for drivers. Denny Hamlin grabbed the inaugural win at Homestead, edging Dale Earnhardt Jr. on a last lap pass while Timmy Hill bumped William Byron out of the way to take the checkered flag at Texas. Both races smashed the previous record for the most-watched esports event in U.S. television history, with the TMS race earning 1.339 million viewers via FOX and FS1.

In addition to the Food City Showdown, drivers from other NASCAR national series, including the NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Gander Outdoors RV & Truck Series, ARCA, the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series and the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, will compete in a special exhibition this Saturday evening, April 4. Saturday Night Thunder will be broadcast on eNASCAR.com/live at 8 p.m.

Prior to Sunday’s Food City Showdown, Bristol Motor Speedway is pulling out all the stops to give race fans a true pre-race experience. The Colossus TV crew of Jose Castillo, Ashley Strohlein and Hannah Newhouse will do an Instagram Live on the BMS Instagram page at 10 a.m. to get viewers excited for the virtual racing action. Race fans will also want to stay tuned to BMS Instagram throughout the day as virtual Texas Motor Speedway race winner Timmy Hill takes you through his race day preparations.

Bristol Motor Speedway will then host a Sunday pre-race concert on all BMS social media pages featuring Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show, country group The Steel Woods and country singer Tennessee Jet. The 30-minute concert is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m.

Instead of a TweetUp at-track this weekend, The Athletic.com motorsports reporter Jeff Gluck will host an official Instagram Live session with special guests on his profile @jeff_gluck at Noon on Sunday.

NASCAR social channels also will provide a 30-minute pre-race show featuring country music singer Justin Moore, hosted by NASCAR.com personality Alex Weaver and NCS driver Austin Dillon. The NASCAR Pre-Race concert will air at 12:30 p.m. E.T. 

To celebrate the Food City Showdown, Bristol Motor Speedway is giving one lucky fan the chance to win the ultimate weekend getaway to The Last Great Colosseum. Fans can enter beginning Saturday by visiting https://www.bristolmotorspeedway.com/predict-and-win/ and selecting the driver they think will win the virtual race. Those who guess correctly will then be placed into a pool where one lucky fan will be randomly selected as the winner. The grand prize includes two weekend tickets for 2021 to either the Food City 500 or Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, one parking pass, two cold passes, a $25 Food City gift card and a $25 Bass Pro Shops gift card.  

Before the Food City Showdown begins, tag the BMS social channels with photos of your Food City homestyle tailgate using the hashtag #TuneInTailgate.

While watching the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway action, all are encouraged to participate in a virtual version of a Speedway Children’s Charities tradition: The Red Bucket Brigade. Normally during BMS NASCAR races, red buckets are passed out for fans to donate their loose change, which is then used to support SCC’s mission to help agencies that support children in need. During the Food City Showdown, race watchers are encouraged to visit https://www.speedwaycharities.org/redbucket/ and give a donation to the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. Funding is critical during this time for agencies on the frontline of child advocacy, so any donation to SCC-Bristol is greatly appreciated and will be used in the 18-county region surrounding the Speedway to support kids in need.

BMS PR

Food Country USA will be on the hood of the No. 77 Burton Kligerman esports Valvoline Camry in the NASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. In lieu of a traditional sponsorship, Food Country USA will be making a donation to the Ballad Health Foundation.

Kligerman has had Food Country USA on the hood of his Henderson Racing NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck several times throughout his career. The two time truck series winner stated, "Food Country USA and the Henderson family have become like family to me over the last couple years driving the No. 75 Food Country USA truck in the Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series. So when we saw Bristol on the iRacing Pro Invitational calendar, I knew they would want to be involved because Bristol is their hometrack.”

In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Kligerman and Food Country USA have teamed up to help the Ballad Health Foundation as they head to the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway. Parker continued, “I loved their idea of making a donation to help the local Bristol area healthcare workers as they battle through this tough time. We all hope this helps raise awareness that supporting America's healthcare workers is paramount to beating this virus. I also cannot thank Valvoline enough for their help and support in making this possible"

The Funds will benefit the Ballad Health Foundation’s Team Member Emergency Fund so we can directly support front-line nurses and healthcare workers in the Bristol area during the COVID-19 public health crisis. We know there is a national shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) so these funds will also help buy surgical masks from LACorp, a locally-owned manufacturer that is working with Ballad Health to provide masks to the front-line team.

For more information on Ballad Health: https://www.balladhealth.org/

Burton Kligerman esports PR

 

Scott McLaughlin made the most of working the night shift, winning the Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst on Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park, the second round of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge.

New Zealand native and two-time Virgin Australia Supercars champion McLaughlin held off Team Penske teammate Will Power by .4241 of a second to earn his first win in the virtual racing series while driving through the early-morning hours at his home in Brisbane, Australia. McLaughlin started practice at 2 a.m. in Australia and qualified eighth for the 45-lap race, taking the checkered flag around 5:40 a.m. local time.

McLaughlin, who started eighth, averaged 115.276 mph for the victory in the No. 2 Shell V-Power Team Penske Chevrolet. He finished fourth in the series debut March 28 at Watkins Glen International.

Click: Results | Transcript | Media Assets

"I'm really happy," McLaughlin said. "I actually brought in (via voice chat) the INDYCAR engineer I've been working with in the States, Jonathan Diuguid. I give him credit. He put me on an awesome strategy. It's a bit better than last week. I was playing with the fuel myself and trying to remember the numbers while I was driving. It was a bit easier this week."

2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Power earned his second consecutive podium, finishing second in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Three-time Global RallyCross champion Scott Speed finished third in the No. 98 Surgere/Curb Honda fielded by Andretti Herta with Marco Andretti & Curb-Agajanian.

NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie Alex Palou finished fourth in the No. 55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda, with 2016 series champion Simon Pagenaud rounding out the top five in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet.

Veteran sim racer McLaughlin passed Speed with six laps remaining, diving inside in Turn 2 of the rolling, challenging 2.38-mile road course at Barber, located in Birmingham, Alabama. The circuit was scheduled to host the second event of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season Sunday, April 5, but the event weekend was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Then the final six laps of the race crystalized into a compelling duel between New Zealand native McLaughlin, racing in the wee hours of the morning in Australia, and Australian native Power, racing from his home in North Carolina.

Power closed to within seven-tenths of a second of McLaughlin with three laps to go, that gap closing to .533 of a second with two laps remaining. Power appeared to have a chance to close on McLaughlin's gearbox as McLaughlin encountered the lapped car of five-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon, but Dixon moved out of the racing line on the final lap to let the leaders through in a sportsmanlike gesture in his series debut.

McLaughlin maintained the gap and his composure throughout the final lap until the final corner, when a puff of virtual smoke rose from his front Firestone tires due to locking his brakes. But he quickly recovered and held off Power for the win.

"When we pitted early, we pitted into a lot of traffic and lost a lot of seconds in that sequence," Power said. "I wasn't aware that Scott (McLaughlin) was on that strategy. I actually thought Sage (Karam) was still leading.

"My engineer just said, 'Just focus on your laps: We can still win this thing.' I thought he was just, 'Come on, don't worry about anything else,' but what he was saying was, 'You need to push out some laps.' So, I think we could have made that a little more tight (at the finish), but I'm still really happy with second."

The introduction of a competition caution to the series for the first time at this race bunched the field on Lap 15 and created many more strategic options than in the series debut Saturday, March 28 at Watkins Glen International.

McLaughlin, under direction from Team Penske lead engineer Jonathan Diuguid, made the bold move of pitting on Lap 14, just before the competition caution. McLaughlin was running ninth on Lap 21, two laps after the restart from the competition caution.

"It was crazy," McLaughlin said. "I was particularly nervous at the Safety Car restart after the caution. I had new tires, but a lot of people didn't in front. We got a good restart there, but it was a bit chaos."

Leader, pole sitter and Watkins Glen race winner Sage Karam pitted for the first time from the lead on Lap 25 in the No. 24 DRR WIX Filters Chevrolet, handing the top spot to 2019 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year Felix Rosenqvist in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Rosenqvist pitted on the next lap, and McLaughlin found himself in the lead due to his early stop.

"The biggest thing was lapped traffic, getting blocked by lap traffic," McLaughlin said. "That enabled us to get that jump in the pits because I was in clear air for a long time where others weren't. Credit to Jonathan and the strategy. He put me out in front and put me in some clear air, and I was able to bang lap times out lap after lap."

Meanwhile, Karam and Rosenqvist collided on track while dueling for position after Rosenqvist exited the pits. Karam eventually retired from the race after the collision and a subsequent tangle with a lapped car, placing 27th.

"We were looking pretty good after qualifying with another pole," Karam said. "The DRR WIX Filters Chevy was in good shape, and the pace was going our way. At the competition yellow, the car still felt good and I got good restart, too. I was stuck behind (Sebastien Bourdais) just before the pit stop and lost a lot of time. He was just blocking me. That screwed up my in lap and out lap from the pit stop. That's how Rosenqvist got in front of me after the pit stop.

"We were racing real hard and both being aggressive. He then overshot the corner. I couldn't tell if I hit him then. He was spinning, and we made contact. We were racing for the win."

McLaughlin led by 19.4 seconds on Lap 32 when he made his second and final pit stop, handing the lead to Speed. After that stop, McLaughlin had fresher Firestone tires than Speed and more than enough fuel to go the distance, so he stood on the throttle in pursuit.

By Lap 38, McLaughlin sliced Speed's lead to just 1.5 seconds before making the decisive pass for the lead on Lap 40.

The other star of the race, televised live on NBCSN, was 2018 series Rookie of the Year Robert Wickens, who finished an incredible and eventful eighth in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

This was Wickens' first racing competition of any kind since suffering serious injuries in a racing crash in August 2018 at Pocono Raceway. He only received his SimCraft simulator two days ago, equipped with special hand controls for throttle and brake since he has restricted use of his legs due to a spinal cord injury suffered in the crash.

Wickens spun in qualifying and started last in the 29-car field but wasted no time getting up to speed. He passed 10 cars in the opening seven laps and was up to 11th halfway through the race.

With 13 laps to go, Wickens spun into the gravel and suffered front wing damage but was able to continue from 11th place. Using a clutch paddle on his wheel for an accelerator and a separate lever for a hand brake, Wickens calmly continued to the finish for a strong top-10 result.

"It was a riot," Wickens said. "We made the bold strategy of trying to make it on one stop under yellow. That was going to be my best race, as when I was saving fuel, that was my best strategy for not spinning out. We did massive fuel save the entire time after that yellow flag, and we just made with 0.2 gallons left at the finish line. It was great teamwork.

"It was great to have the Arrow McLaren SP engineers in my ears the whole time. In a way, it felt like the real thing. I'm just excited."

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson finished 12th in the No. 48 Jimmie Johnson Racing Chevrolet. Dixon placed 16th in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda in his series debut.

Today's race was the second of six events to take place every Saturday through May 2. Future venues include the first oval event, on April 11 at Michigan International Speedway, a "Random Draw" track April 18, Circuit of the Americas on April 25 and a non-INDYCAR "Dream" track May 2. The series opened March 28 at Watkins Glen International.

The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge will not crown an overall champion but will add a special element where INDYCAR will make a donation to one of its partner charities.

IndyCar PR

eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series

Next Race: Food City Showdown

The Place: Virtual Bristol Motor Speedway

The Date: Sunday, April 5

The Time: 1 p.m. ET

TV: FOX (where available and subject to change), FS1 and FOX Sports App

Distance: Two heat races – 50 Laps (no elimination), Main Event – 150 Laps

 

Saturday Night Thunder 150

The Place: Virtual Bristol Motor Speedway

The Date: Saturday, April 4

The Time: 8 p.m. ET

Online: enascar.com/live

Distance: Four heat races – 20 Laps; Two Last Chance Qualifiers – 20 Laps; Main Event – 150 Laps

 

Gear up for the Food City Showdown at Bristol, baby!

While NASCAR’s on-track activity has been postponed through the weekend of May 3rd to align with CDC guidance, drivers and fans are turning to the virtual world to see some of the best racing competition around.

 

NASCAR, iRacing and FOX Sports teamed up to deliver the first-ever eNASCAR iRacing Pro invitational Series event the Dixie Vodka 150 at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway two weeks ago. Last week, FOX Sports committed to covering the remainder of the season, which began Sunday, March 29, at 1 p.m. ET from virtual Texas Motor Speedway with the O'Reilly Auto Parts 125.

 

Entitled FOX NASCAR iRacing, the races will be simulcast on the FOX broadcast network where available, FS1 and the FOX Sports app. Races will also be available in Canada through FOX Sports Racing.

 

The 130-lap virtual race event at Texas had various drivers fighting for the lead but was ultimately won by iRacing veteran and Cup Series underdog Timmy Hill, driver of the No. 66 Toyota. The win marked his 674th iRacing victory.

 

Ryan Preece, driver of the No. 37 finished second, Garrett Smithley, driver of the No. 51, finished third, Landon Cassill, driver of the No. 89, finished fourth and Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 88, rounded out the top five. The top four drivers don’t typically run in the front of the pack on non-virtual race weekends but iRacing has given them the chance to compete up front in the similar equipment as the rest of the field.

 

The series inaugural event on March 22, won by three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin, drew 903,000 viewers on FS1. Last weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, won by Hill, drew 1.3 million viewers. That was an increase since its viewership the weekend before at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway and broke its own Esport television ratings record. A total of 1,339,000 people watched the O’Reilly Auto Parts 125 across the FOX viewing platforms.

 

Fox Sports iRacing has been the most-watched telecast on FS1 since the pandemic-induced sports shutdown began on March 12 and Sunday’s most-watched sports telecast on cable television, as well as ranks as the highest-rated esports TV program in history.

 

Sunday’s Food City Showdown at Bristol Motor Speedway (1 p.m. ET on FOX, FS1, FOX Sports App) will once again feature FOX NASCAR broadcasters Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds calling the action.

 

Bristol introduces Saturday Night Thunder

This weekend marks the introduction of a new iRacing event, the Saturday Night Thunder 150, that uses ARCA cars and includes drivers from the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, ARCA Menards Series, NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series and NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. 

 

The format will be similar to short-track events and will feature multiple heat races and one main event. The event will be live streamed at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 4, at enascar.com/live.

 

The format will be as follows (all times ET):

 

7 p.m.: One-hour practice session goes live.

8:05 p.m.:   Two-lap single-car qualifying session. This will set the starting grid for the heats.

8:08 p.m.:   

  • Heat 1 starts. All heats will be 20 laps with no cautions and one reset. There will be four heats.
  • Heats will immediately be followed by two Last Chance Qualifiers. These will be 20 Laps with no cautions.
  • Heats will set the starting grid for 150 Lap Main Feature.
  • Main Feature Race will be 150 laps with manual cautions and one reset. There will also be three attempts at a Green/White/Checker finish.

 

NASCAR & Penn Interactive relaunch NASCAR Finish Line app for eNASCAR iRacing  

Earlier this year, NASCAR and Penn Interactive, a subsidiary of Penn National Gaming, Inc., announced a new multi-year partnership that led to the creation of a brand new, free-to-play, mobile game named NASCAR Finish Line, which offered users the chance to win a $50,000 jackpot every race.

 

Now, this weekend, the eNASCAR Finish Line mobile game is being relaunched and is available across iOS and Android phones and tablets and can be downloaded on the App Store and Google Play store. With the relaunch, players can win a $5,000 jackpot by accurately predicting the top two finishers and the highest finishers across six different groupings of four drivers. 

 

Denny Hamlin won the first eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway and Timmy Hill won the second event at virtual Texas Motor Speedway. Tune in this weekend to see the third eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series event of the year from virtual Bristol Motor Speedway, the Food City Showdown, being televised live at 1 p.m. ET on FOX, FS1 and the FOX Sports App. 

 

Sunday’s run of show and race format 

Sunday’s Food City Showdown has a different look this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. The format will consist of a two-lap qualifying effort to determine the lineup for the heat races.

 

  • Drivers who qualify in an odd position (1st, 3rd, 5th, etc.) will be placed in Heat 1.
  • Drivers who qualifying in an even position (2nd, 4th, 6th, etc.) will be placed in Heat 2.

 

There will be two heat races, 50 laps each, with no elimination. Every driver will advance to the main 150-lap event. The heat races set the grid for the main event and the winner of the first heat race will start on the pole. Cautions will be enabled during the heat races and drivers will receive two “resets” for their heat races, unused “resets” do not carry over to the main race.

 

Additionally:

 

  • Finishing order from Heat 1 will determine odd positions for the Main Event (1st, 3rd, 5th, etc.)
    • The Busch Pole will be awarded to the winner of Heat 1
  • Finishing order from Heat #2 will determine even grid positions for the Main Event (2nd, 4th, 6th, etc.)
  • No drivers will be eliminated in these races; all 32 competitors will advance.

 

Sunday’s Food City Showdown will consist of 150 laps with double-file restarts and lapped cars will go to the rear. There will be three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish, if necessary.

 

Drivers will be allowed two resets this week at virtual Bristol Motor Speedway. If a car is damaged, drivers must drive back to their pit stall and come to a complete stop. This will automatically apply the fast repair and give the driver a new car.

 

Over the airwaves

Last Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 125 from virtual Texas Motor Speedway earned a U.S. rating of 0.81 on FOX/FS1 (simulcast) and had an average viewer tune-in of 1.3 million.

 

This Sunday’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race from virtual Bristol Motor Speedway will be available to our international affiliates in 150 countries and territories, reaching over 280 million households.

 

Below is a lineup of broadcasters:

 

Bristol Motor Speedway - eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series

Arena Sport

Czech Republic, Slovakia

Astro

Malaysia

Automoto La Chaine

France, Belgium, Turkey

Charlton – Sport 1

Isreal

Discovery

India

ESPN LatAm

Argentina, Colombia, Chile

FOX Sports Australia

Australia

FOX Sports Mexico

Mexico

Hong Kong PCCW

Hong Kong

MatchTV

Russia

MAX Sport

Bulgaria

Motowizja

Poland

Premier Sports/FreeSports

UK

Sky NZ

New Zealand

Sport TV

Portugal

SuperSport Africa

Sub-Saharan and West Africa

Telcel

Mexico

Tencent

China

TSN

Canada

TV3 Spain

Spain

Ziggo Sport

Netherlands

 

 

Giving back

As it has since the onset of the worldwide COVID-19 Coronavirus, NASCAR remains a source of aid with The NASCAR Foundation as well as teams, drivers and associated companies donating to the worldwide relief efforts.

 

This week the Joey Logano Foundation announced a $1 million effort – in partnership with Elevation Outreach – to establish a COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. The money is targeted to address multiple needs in the community aiding educational access to medical supplies and food distribution in the Charlotte area and even beyond.

 

From the Wood Brothers Racing team to seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson to this year’s Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin and 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski, help is on the way.

The iconic Wood Brothers race team is raising money to purchase tablets for seniors – an effort to help keep the seniors in touch with family that may not be allowed to visit in their nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

 

Keselowski‘s Checkered Flag Foundation partnered with local groups to provide meals to healthcare workers. And his Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing company is helping get face shields so desperately needed by healthcare workers.

 

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Johnson is raising money for the Center for Disaster Philanthropy Inc. which will get the funds to groups helping in the fight against COVID-19. The effort is taking $25 donations from fans with each donation entering that person for a chance to win Johnson’s autographed race-worn shoes. This effort goes through April 6.

 

And of course, Hamlin made big news with his eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational inaugural win at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway two weeks ago. He pledged to donate $100 for every lap he led, plus $5,000 because he won the race to an effort headed by The NASCAR Foundation and Feed the Children working in the South Florida area. In all, Hamlin contributed $6,400 to the effort and his sponsor Coca-Cola matched the money, as did the Kevin Harvick Foundation.

 

The NASCAR Research & Development Center, located outside Charlotte, has turned its high-tech capabilities into real life medical assistance – manufacturing face shields with its 3D printers and even a prototype human head that Wake Forest doctors and scientists are using to research better treatment supply options.

 

CORE Autosport, a team in IMSA’s WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, is similarly committed to helping out. Its team shop is manufacturing thousands of facemasks for distribution across the country. Technique Inc., a Michigan-based company that normally supplies chassis components to NASCAR teams has similarly turned its efforts during this pause in racing to making face shields for medical distribution and has ramped up production to 20,000 shields per day.

 

And Roush Fenway Racing has developed a special prototype “aerosol box” that helps provide a safe, workable barrier between a COVID-19 patient and the many medical personnel treating them in hospital rooms and transporting them on hospital floors.

 

Statistical Notes

A wide range of drivers with various experience both at Bristol Motor Speedway and in iRacing will be contending in this Sunday’s Food City Showdown in the third race of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series (1 p.m. ET on FOX – where available and subject to change, FS1 and the FOX Sports app).

 

Below is a list of anticipated participants (listed numerically), their statistics, and career highlights, for the third race of the series. Please note, the participant list is subject to change.

 

Note on iRacing stats below:

The stats are cumulative lifetime stats for each driver in public oval events in stock car disciplines (ranging from top-level Cup cars to Legends) on iRacing. It doesn’t include stats from private leagues. Statistics for drivers who have starts in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series include those races run.

   

Entry list (list is subject to change and will be updated in the News & Notes on NASCARMedia.com if necessary):

 

#1 Kurt Busch

#2 Brad Keselowski

#3 Austin Dillon

#6 Ross Chastain

#9 Chase Elliott

#11 Denny Hamlin

#12 Ryan Blaney

#13 Ty Dillon

#14 Clint Bowyer

#17 Chris Buescher

#18 Kyle Busch

#19 Bobby Labonte

#20 Erik Jones

#21 Matt Dibenedetto

#22 Joey Logano

#24 William Byron

#31 Tyler Reddick

#34 Michael McDowell

#37 Ryan Preece

#38 John Hunter Nemechek

#42 Kyle Larson

#43 Bubba Wallace

#47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr

#48 Jimmie Johnson

#51 Garrett Smithley

#66 Timmy Hill

#77 Parker Kligerman

#88 Alex Bowman

#89 Landon Cassill

#95 Christopher Bell

  

Drivers listed in numerical order:

 

Kurt Busch – iRacing #1

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series – No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 38 starts, 6 wins, 12 top fives, 20 top 10s

NASCAR Xfinity Series: N/A

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: N/A

 

Highlights:

  • Made his national series track debut in 2001 in the NASCAR Cup Series.
  • Won his first Bristol Cup Series race in the spring of 2002, won three straight in sweeping 2003 races and winning the spring 2004 event. Most recent Bristol Cup win was fall of 2018.
  • 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion; winner of the inaugural NASCAR Playoffs
  • Has driven for many of NASCAR’s most iconic teams such as Roush-Fenway Racing, Team Penske, Furniture Row Racing, Stewart-Haas
  • Racing, and now Chip Ganassi Racing
  • Multiple winner in all three NASCAR national series
  • 2000 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Rookie of the Year and championship runner-up

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives and 0 poles
  • Finished 35th at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • Finished 10th at virtual Texas Motor Speedway last week

 

Brad Keselowski – iRacing #2

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series – No. 2 Team Penske Ford

 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 20 starts, 2 wins, 5 top fives, 6 top 10s

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 14 starts, 1 win, 6 top fives, 8 top 10s

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: 7 starts, 1 win, 1 top five, 3 top 10s

 

Highlights:

       Made his national series track debut in 2005 in the Gander Trucks.

       His two Cup Series wins came back-to-back in the fall of 2011 and in the spring of 2012.

       First win at the track was in fall, 2008 in the Xfinity Series. He also won in 2014 in the Gander Trucks – which was also his last Gander Trucks start at the track to date.

       Has 30 wins to his name with 116 top fives, 188 top 10s and 17 pole awards in the Cup Series

       His first Cup Series win came in his second Cup Series season at Talladega Superspeedway in 2009

       Won the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series Championship for Team Penske

       Won the 2010 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship and won the Most Popular Driver Award three years in a row (2008-2010)

       Made his national series debut in the Gander Trucks in 2004

 

Overall iRacing Stats

       32 starts, 7 wins, 19 top fives, 3 poles

  • Finished 25th at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway

 

 

Austin Dillon – iRacing #3

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Xfinity Series - No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 12 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 2 top 10s

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 9 starts, 1 win, 5 top fives, 5 top 10s

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s

 

Highlights:

  • Made his national series track debut in Bristol in the Gander Trucks in 2010
  • Won the fall Xfinity Series race at Bristol in 2016
  • Got his first Cup Series win in 2017 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • Won the 2018 Daytona 500
  • Won the 2013 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship
  • Won the Xfinity Series Rookie-of-the-Year Award n 2012
  • Is the 2011 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Champion as well as the Most Popular Driver
  • Won rookie of the year honors in Gander Trucks in 2010

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 2 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives and 0 poles
  • Finished 27th last week at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • Finished 29th at virtual Texas Motor Speedway last week

 

 

Ross Chastain – iRacing #6

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Xfinity Series – No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet

 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 4 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 9 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: 4 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 2 top 10s

 

Highlights:

  • His best finish at Bristol was third (twice - 2012, 2019) in the Gander Trucks
  • Chastain made his NASCAR national series track debut at Bristol in the Gander Trucks in 2011
  • This year, he has filled in for Ryan Newman in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford in the NASCAR Cup Series for three races
  • In 2019, he completed 19 races in the Xfinity Series and posted a win at Daytona with Kaulig Racing
  • In 2018, he made the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs and won his first career race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway racing for Chip Ganassi Racing
  • In 2011, he made his NASCAR national series debut in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series debut at Lucas Oil Raceway

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 539 starts, 67 wins, 196 top fives and 64 poles
  • Finished 14th last week at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • Finished 22nd at virtual Texas Motor Speedway last week

 

 

Chase Elliott – iRacing #9

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 8 starts, 0 wins, 3 top fives, 4 top 10s

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 5 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 5 top 10s

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: 1 start, 0 wins, 1 top five, 1 top 10

 

Highlights:

  • Made his national series track debut in 2013 in the Gander Trucks, starting on the pole and finishing fifth.
  • His best Cup Series finish came in the fall of 2018, finishing third. He also finished third in the Xfinity Series in the fall of 2014.
  • Got his first Cup Series win at Watkins Glen International in 2018, then went on to win two more times that season (Dover-2, Kanas-2)
  • Won three races in 2019 including the Charlotte Road Course
  • Won the Cup Series Most Popular Driver Award for the last two years (2018, 2019)
  • Won the Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year Award in 2016
  • Won Gander Trucks Most Popular Driver Award in 2015
  • 2014 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion and won rookie of the year and most popular driver in the same year

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 257 starts, 36 wins, 107 top fives, 31 poles
  • Finished 24th last weekend at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • Finished 20th at virtual Texas Motor Speedway last week

 

 

Denny Hamlin – iRacing #11

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series – No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 28 starts, 2 wins, 9 top fives, 14 top 10s

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 8 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 3 top 10s

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: N/A

 

Highlights:

 

  • Won the inaugural eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • Made his national series track debut in 2005 in the Xfinity Series and finished 9th in the spring race,
  • Won a pair of Cup Series races at Bristol, the first in the fall of 2012 and the second in the most recent race there last fall.
  • Won Cup Series Rookie of the Year Award in 2006
  • Has 38 Cup Series wins to his name and the first came in 2006 at Pocono Raceway
  • He has 162 top fives, 261 top 10s and 33 poles in the Cup Series
  • 2019 was a career-best season for him, winning six races and making it to the Championship 4
  • Won the Daytona 500 three times (2016, 2019, 2020)
  • Is already in the Playoffs this season with his season-opening win at Daytona

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 165 starts, 31 wins, 75 top fives, 31 poles
  • Won the first race at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway with a last-lap pass on Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • Finished 24th at virtual Texas Motor Speedway last week

 

 

Ryan Blaney – iRacing #12

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 12 Team Penske Ford

 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 9 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 4 top 10s

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 5 starts, 1 win, 3 top fives, 4 top 10s

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: 4 starts, 1 win, 2 top fives, 3 top 10s

 

Highlights:

  • Made his national series debut at Bristol in the Gander Trucks in 2012.
  • His Xfinity Series win at Bristol came in the fall of 2014. Won the 2015 Gander Trucks race at Bristol after starting second.
  • Has won a race and earned a Cup Series Playoff berth in each season from 2017-19 and has three total wins in the Cup Series.
  • Finished runner-up in 2014 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series standings, won most popular driver in the series
  • Won 2013 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award 

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 poles
  • Finished 27th at virtual Texas Motor Speedway last week

 

 

Ty Dillon – iRacing #13

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series – No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet

 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 7 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 5 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 3 top 10s

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: 3 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10s

 

Highlights:

  • Made his national series track debut in 2012 for the Gander Trucks.
  • Has a best finish of third at Bristol in the Xfinity Series in 2015.
  • In 2019, got his best Cup Series finish at the spring Daytona race in fourth place
  • Made his Cup Series debut in 2014 at Atlanta Motor Speedway
  • Won Most Popular Driver Award for Gander Trucks in 2013
  • In 2012, Dillon won Rookie-of-the-Year honors for the Gander Trucks

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives and 0 poles
  • Finished 19th last week at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • Finished 16th at virtual Texas Motor Speedway last week

 

 

Clint Bowyer – iRacing #14

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford

 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 28 starts, 0 wins, 7 top fives, 15 top 10s

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 12 starts, 1 win, 6 top fives, 9 top 10s

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: N/A

 

Highlights:

  • His best NASCAR Cup Series finish at Bristol was a runner-up result in the spring race in 2017.
  • Bowyer won the Xfinity Series race in the spring of 2008 at Bristol.
  • Bowyer made his NASCAR national series track debut at Bristol in the Xfinity Series in 2005.
  • In 2019, Bowyer qualified for the Playoffs on points and finished ninth in the series standing
  • Bowyer was the runner-up for the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series championship
  • He won the 2008 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship
  • Multiple winner in all three NASCAR national series. (10 NASCAR Cup Series, eight NASCAR Xfinity Series, 14 Gander Trucks wins)

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives and 0 poles
  • Finished 16th last week at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • Finished 11th at virtual Texas Motor Speedway last week

 

 

Chris Buescher – iRacing #17

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford

 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 9 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 1 top 10

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 5 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 3 top 10s

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: N/A

 

Highlights:

  • His best Cup Series finish at Bristol was fifth place in 2016
  • Got a best track finish of third at Bristol in the Xfinity Series in 2015
  • Buescher joined Roush-Fenway Racing for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season
  • In 2016, he won first NASCAR Cup Series race (Pocono-2) in his rookie season; first driver since Joey Logano (2009) to accomplish the feat
  • One of three drivers in NASCAR Cup Series history to make the Playoffs in their rookie season, joining Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin
  • Won the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in 2015
  • Was the 2012 ARCA Menards Series champion

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives and 0 poles
  • Finished 28th at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • Finished 18th at virtual Texas Motor Speedway

 

 

Kyle Busch – iRacing #18

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series – No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 29 starts, 8 wins, 12 top fives, 17 top 10s, 2 poles

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 27 starts, 9 wins, 17 top fives, 20 top 10s, 6 poles

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: 11 starts, 5 wins, 7 top fives, 8 top 10s, 4 poles

 

Highlights:

  • Has the most wins among any active Cup Series driver at Bristol
  • Won his first Cup Series race at Bristol in 2007, most recent win at the track was in 2019
  • Got his first Gander Trucks win at Bristol in 2008
  • Won three races in a row at the track in the Gander Trucks (2008-2010)
  • Won the pole award in the last three Gander Trucks events run at Bristol (2014, 2015, 2017)
  • Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, also won championship in 2015. One of two (Jimmie Johnson) active drivers with multiple Cup championships
  • Has made the Championship 4 in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs the last five consecutive seasons
  • Won the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in 2009
  • In 2010, set all-time single-season record with 24 victories across NASCAR’s three national series
  • Currently has most all-time NASCAR national series wins with 208 (56 Cup, 96 Xfinity, 57 Gander Trucks)
  • Record seven-time NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series owner champion (2010, ’13, ’14, ’15, ’16, ’17 and ‘19) and one driver championship (2015)

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives and 0 poles
  • Finished 29th at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • Finished 17th at Texas Motor Speedway

 

 

Bobby Labonte – iRacing #19

Current Series/Occupation: 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee

 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 42 starts, 0 wins, 3 top fives, 10 top 10s

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 12 starts, 1 win, 2 top fives, 6 top 10s

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: N/A

 

Highlights:

  • Best finish of third in the Cup Series at Bristol in 2003
  • Got his first track win in 1991 at Bristol starting from 21st
  • In his Xfinity Series debut at the track, Labonte started on the pole
  • Labonte was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2020. He joins his brother, Terry, with the prestigious honor
  • He won the 2000 NASCAR Cup Series championship
  • Labonte has 21 NASCAR Cup Series wins, 10 Xfinity Series and one Gander Trucks win
  • He is one of 27 drivers to have a win in all three of NASCAR’s national series

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 77 starts, 7 wins, 31 top fives, 5 poles
  • Finished 18th at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • Finished 13th last weekend at virtual Texas Motor Speedway

 

 

Erik Jones – iRacing #20

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 6 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 2 top 10s, 1 pole

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 6 starts, 2 wins, 3 top fives, 4 top 10s, 3 poles

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: 1 start – finished sixth in 2015

 

Highlights:

  • Finished runner-up at Bristol in the Cup Series in only his second start at the track in 2017
  • Got his first Xfinity Series win at the first Bristol race in 2016 and then went on to win the same race in 2017
  • Won three back-to-back pole positions in the Xfinity Series at Bristol (2015-2016)
  • Won his first NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway in July of 2018
  • 2017 NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year - becoming the first driver to earn the award in all three of NASCAR’s national series
  • 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year
  • 2015 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Champion and Sunoco Rookie of the Year - the youngest champion in series history

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 poles
  • Finished 10th at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • Finished 21st at virtual Texas Motor Speedway last weekend

 

 

Matt DiBenedetto – iRacing #21

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 10 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 2 top 10s

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 5 starts – best finish of 19th in 2014

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: N/A

 

Highlights:

  • Finished runner-up last season at Bristol, marking a career-best finish for him
  • Made his Xfinity Series debut at the track in 2013
  • Notched his first career top-five finish in 2019 at Sonoma Raceway
  • Signed with Wood Brothers Racing for the 2020 season after racing for Leavine Family Racing in 2019
  • His two career-best finishes were runner-up in Bristol Motor Speedway in 2019 and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2020
  • His best finish in the Xfinity Series was in 2010 at Iowa Speedway, where he finished ninth

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 312 starts, 77 wins, 204 top fives, 29 poles
  • Finished 11th at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • Finished 15th at virtual Texas Motor Speedway last weekend

 

 

Joey Logano – iRacing #22

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 22 Team Penske Ford

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 22 starts, 2 wins, 6 top fives, 10 top 10s, 1 pole

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 13 starts, 2 wins, 6 top fives, 10 top 10s, 1 pole

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: N/A

 

Highlights:

  • Got his first Cup Series win at Bristol in 2014; his most recent win at the track was in 2015
  • Won his first Xfinity Series race at Bristol in 2012 and went on to win again in 2015
  • Became youngest driver to win a NASCAR Cup pole on March 19, 2010, at Bristol
  • Won 2009 NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year, the youngest-ever winner of the award
  • Became youngest driver to win a NASCAR Cup race on June 28, 2009, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
  • Became youngest driver to win a NASCAR Xfinity Series race on June 14, 2008, at Kentucky

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 12 starts, 2 wins, 3 top fives and 4 poles
  • Finished 15th at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway

 

William Byron – iRacing #24

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series – No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 4 starts – best finish of 16th in 2019

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 2 starts – best finish of 12th in 2017

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: 1 start – finished fourth in 2016

 

Highlights:

  • Made his Cup Series debut at the track in 2018, finishing 18th
  • Finished fourth in his Gander Trucks debut at Bristol in 2016
  • Earned first career Playoff berth in 2019, finishing a career-high 11th in final standings
  • Won the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award; becoming just the second driver all-time to win Rookie of the Year honors in all three NASCAR national series; joining Erik Jones
  • Won the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award
  • Won the 2016 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series owner championship for Kyle Busch Motorsports and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, setting a series rookie record with seven victories
  • Won the 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 1,468 starts, 292 wins, 698 top fives and 250 poles
  • Finished 34th at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • Finished seventh at virtual Texas last weekend and started from the pole

 

 

Tyler Reddick – iRacing #31

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: N/A

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 5 starts, 1 win, 2 top fives, 4 top 10s

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10, 1 pole

 

Highlights:

  • Got his first Xfinity Series win at Bristol in 2019 after starting 38th, went on to win the championship in the same year
  • Won the pole award at Bristol in the Gander Trucks in 2016
  • Best finish of eighth in the Gander Trucks at Bristol in 2015
  • Back-to-Back NASCAR Xfinity Series champion (2018-2019), and first driver to do it with two different organizations (JR Motorsports 2018, Richard Childress Racing 2019).
  • 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year; just third driver in series history to win the title in his rookie season joining Chase Elliott (2014) and William Byron (2017).
  • In 2017, captured his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory, at Kentucky, while running a partial schedule.
  • In 2015, he competed full-time in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, winning his first race and finishing runner-up in the championship standings.

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 poles
  • Finished 28th at virtual Texas Motor Speedway last weekend

 

 

Michael McDowell – iRacing #34

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 19 starts, best finish of 18th in 2014

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 5 starts – best finish of 10th in 2009

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: N/A

 

Highlights:

  • Made his Cup Series debut at Bristol in 2010
  • McDowell is entering his 13th season in the NASCAR Cup Series
  • Finished a career-best 26th in the 2017 and 2018 NASCAR Cup Series standings
  • Earned his lone NASCAR Xfinity Series win in 2016 at Road America

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 102 starts, 25 wins, 45 top fives and 25 poles
  • Finished 23rd at virtual Homestead Miami Speedway
  • Finished 12th last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway

 

 

Ryan Preece – iRacing #37

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 37 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 2 starts – best finish of 18th in 2019

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 3 starts, 1 win, 1 top five, 1 top 10

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: N/A

 

Highlights:

  • Made his Cup Series track debut in 2019 and finished 18th in his second start that year
  • Won the Xfinity Series race at Bristol in 2018, his second career win
  • Finished runner-up in 2019 Sunoco Rookie of the Year battle in the NASCAR Cup Series
  • Won first career NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Iowa in 2017
  • In 2013, he was the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, youngest champion in series history

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 253 starts, 42 wins, 103 top fives and 14 poles
  • Finished 33rd at virtual Homestead Miami Speedway
  • Finished runner-up last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway

 

 

John Hunter Nemechek – iRacing #38

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: N/A

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 3 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 2 top 10s

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: 6 starts, 0 wins, 3 top fives, 5 top 10

 

Highlights:

  • Has posted a career-best Bristol finish of third in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the Gander Trucks.
  • 2020 is Nemechek’s first fulltime season in the NASCAR Cup Series.
  • Earned his first NASCAR Xfinity Series win in 2018 at Kansas while driving for Chip Ganassi Racing.
  • Won his first NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in 2015, driving for NEMCO Motorsports and has tallied six wins in the series.

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 290 starts, 29 wins, 97 top fives and 37 poles
  • Finished 30th at virtual Homestead Miami Speedway.
  • Finished eighth at virtual Texas Motor Speedway.

 

 

Kyle Larson – iRacing #42

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 12 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 7 top 10s, two poles

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 9 starts, 1 win (2018), 7 top fives, 8 top 10s, two poles

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: N/A

 

Highlights:

  • Won at Bristol Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2018.
  • He has made the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs four consecutive seasons (2016-2019).
  • Larson won a career-best four NASCAR Cup Series races in 2017.
  • 2014 NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year
  • 2013 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year
  • 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion and Rookie of the Year

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 305 starts, 57 wins, 143 top fives and 27 poles
  • Finished 33rd at virtual Homestead Miami Speedway.
  • Finished 9th at virtual Texas Motor Speedway. 

 

 

Bubba Wallace – iRacing #43

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet

 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 4 starts, best finish of 14th (2019)

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 5 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10s

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: 2 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five (runner-up finish)

 

Highlights:

  • Has competed in all three of NASCAR’s national series at Bristol Motor Speedway.
  • In 2018, Wallace finished in second in the Daytona 500 - the highest finish by a NASCAR Cup Series rookie to date. It was also the best finish by an African-American driver in the Great American Race.
  • Made NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs in 2016, finishing 11th in the driver standings.
  • Won his first NASCAR national series race in the Gander Trucks at Martinsville in 2013 and became the first African-American to win a NASCAR national touring series event since 1963.
  • Has six career wins in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series.

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 107 starts, 29 wins, 43 top fives and 32 poles
  • Finished 7th at virtual Homestead Miami Speedway.
  • Finished 25th at virtual Texas Motor Speedway.

 

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – iRacing #47

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 14 starts, 0 wins, 4 top fives, 6 top 10s

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 6 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 2 top 10s, one pole

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: N/A

 

Highlights:

  • Has finished in the top-five in the NASCAR Cup Series four times at Bristol.
  • Captured first two NASCAR Cup Series wins in 2017 (Talladega-1, Daytona-2),
  • 2013 NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
  • Two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion (2011, 2012).
  • 2010 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year.

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 66 starts, 6 wins, 26 top fives and 1 pole
  • Finished 21st at virtual Homestead Miami Speedway.
  • Finished 23rd at virtual Texas Motor Speedway.

 

 

Jimmie Johnson – iRacing #48

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 36 starts, 2 wins (2010, 2017), 12 top fives, 21 top 10s

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 4 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 1 top 10

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: N/A

 

Highlights:

  • Has won twice in the NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway (2010, 2017).
  • Tied with NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the NASCAR Cup Series most championships all-time with seven each.
  • First driver in series history to win five consecutive NASCAR Cup Series titles (2006-10).
  • Johnson ranks tied for sixth on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list, with 83 wins.
  • Has the series record with 15 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff berths.
  • 2009 Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 poles
  • Finished 31st at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.
  • Finished 25th at virtual Texas Motor Speedway.

 

 

Garrett Smithley – iRacing #51

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 51 Petty Ware Racing Chevrolet

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: N/A

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 8 starts, best finish of 16th (2018)

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: N/A

 

Highlights:

  • Has made eight starts at Bristol in the NASCAR Xfinity Series posting a best finish of 16th in 2018.
  • Finished a career-best 18th in the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series standings.
  • Has a NASCAR national series career-best finish of fifth at Daytona in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 1,227 starts, 146 wins, 537 top fives and 131 poles
  • Finished fifth at virtual Homestead Miami Speedway.
  • Finished third at virtual Texas Motor Speedway.

 

 

Timmy Hill – iRacing #66

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series – No. 66 Motorsports Business Management Toyota

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 5 starts, best finish of 28th (2018)

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 13 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: 1 start, finished 17th (2019)

 

Highlights:

  • Won last week’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at virtual Texas Motor Speedway.
  • Has competed in all three NASCAR national series at Bristol Motor Speedway. Posting a top-10 finish in NASCAR Xfinity Series.
  • Finished third in the 2020 Xfinity Series season-opener at Daytona, his career-best NASCAR national series finish.
  • Made his Cup Series debut in 2012 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
  • Owner of Hill Motorsports, fielding the No. 56 Chevrolet in the Gander Trucks.

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 1,677 starts, 674 wins, 1,205 top fives, 456 poles
  • Finished third at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.
  • Won the race at virtual Texas Motor Speedway.

 

 

Parker Kligerman – iRacing #77

Current Series/Occupation: NBC Sports TV Analyst and part-time NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series driver

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 1 start, finished 34th (2014)

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 4 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 3 top 10s

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: 6 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 4 top 10s

 

Highlights:

  • Has made starts in all three NASCAR national series at Bristol Motor Speedway.
  • Has made 28 NASCAR Cup Series starts since 2012.
  • Finished a career-best ninth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship standings in 2013.
  • Has posted a pair of wins in the Gander Trucks, both at Talladega (2012, 2017).
  • Finished a career-best fifth in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series championship points in 2012.

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 416 starts, 57 wins, 189 top fives and 11 poles
  • Finished 13th at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.
  • Finished 12th at virtual Texas Motor Speedway.

 

 

Alex Bowman – iRacing #88

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 8 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 2 top 10s

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 2 starts, best finish of 14th (2013)

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: N/A

 

Highlights:

  • Has finished in the top-five at Bristol Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series.
  • Bowman captured his second career NASCAR Cup Series win earlier this season at Auto Club Speedway. His first came last year at Chicagoland Speedway
  • Bowman filled in the No. 88 for 10 races in 2016 while Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sidelined with concussion symptoms. He took over the ride fulltime in 2018 following Earnhardt’s retirement.
  • He was the 2011 NASCAR Menards Series East and the 2012 ARCA Menards Series rookie of the year.

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 2 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five and 0 poles
  • Finished sixth at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.
  • Finished fifth at virtual Texas Motor Speedway.

 

 

Landon Cassill – iRacing #89

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Xfinity Series – No. 89 Shepherd Racing Chevrolet

 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 18 starts, best finish of 20th (twice: 2016, 2018)

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 7 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: N/A

 

Highlights:

  • Has made starts at Bristol Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series scoring a top-10 finish in the Xfinity Series in 2019.
  • In 2014, he scored a NASCAR Cup Series career-best fourth-place finish at Talladega.
  • In 2010, he made his NASCAR Cup Series debut at Michigan.
  • In 2008, he won the NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year award.

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 44 starts, 4 wins, 26 top fives and 2 poles
  • Finished 12th at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.
  • Finished fourth at virtual Texas Motor Speedway.

 

 

Christopher Bell – iRacing #95

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 96 Leavine Family Racing Toyota

 

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: N/A

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 4 starts, 1 win (2019), 2 top fives, 2 top 10s

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: 3 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s

 

Highlights:

  • Has made starts at Bristol Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.
  • He won the 2019 Xfinity Spring race at Bristol.
  • Has posted a total of 16 NASCAR Xfinity Series wins.
  • Set the rookie single season Xfinity Series wins record with seven victories in 2018.
  • 2017 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series champion
  • Has a total of seven Gander Truck wins.

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 1,028 starts, 237 wins, 556 top fives and 132 poles
  • Finished 27th at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.
  • Finished 34th at virtual Texas Motor Speedway. 

 

 

Daniel Suarez – iRacing #96

Current Series/Occupation: NASCAR Cup Series - No. 96 Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota

NASCAR National Series Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series: 6 starts, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s

NASCAR Xfinity Series: 6 starts, 4 top fives, 5 top 10s

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series: 2 starts, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s

 

Highlights:

  • Has a pair of runner-up finishes at Bristol in the Xfinity Series – in his national series track debut in the spring of 2015 and in the fall of 2017.
  • Finished eighth at Bristol in the two races there in 2019.
  • Competed in the NASCAR Cup Series for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018-2019; finished a career-best 17th in Cup points in ‘19.
  • Made NASCAR Cup Series debut for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2017, finished the season 20th in points
  • 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion -  the first Latin American, as well as the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate, to win a NASCAR national series title.
  • In 2016, he became the first Mexican driver to win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, claiming three victories at Michigan, Dover and the championship finale at Homestead-Miami.
  • 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year - the first Mexican driver to win the award.
  • In 2013, he finished third in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East final championship standings, the highest finish for an international driver in series history
  • 2010 NASCAR Mexico Series Rookie of the Year. 

 

Overall iRacing Stats

  • 1 start, 0 wins, 1 top five and 0 poles
  • Finished 33rd at virtual Texas Motor Speedway.

NASCAR PR

Singer/songwriter, actress and producer Rita Wilson and NASCAR’s Darrell and Stevie Waltrip serve as prerace dignitaries for Sunday’s FOX NASCAR iRACING event from virtual Bristol Motor Speedway via video from their respective homes.

Wilson, celebrated for her work as an actress, film producer, musical artist and philanthropist, will perform the national anthem Sunday, April 5, prior to the start of the eNASCAR iRACING Pro Invitational Series race (1:00 PM ET on FOX, FS1 and the FOX Sports app). Wilson has made an impressive mark as a musical artist over the last several years, touring and performing at festivals such as Stagecoach and CMA Fest among others, while releasing several albums including her latest,  Halfway to Home, with Rolling Stone praising the single “Throw Me A Party,” as “inspiring” and “evocative.”

NASCAR Hall of Fame driver and longtime FOX NASCAR analyst Darrell Waltrip is joined by his wife, Stevie, to offer the invocation prior to the start of the race in their home state of Tennessee. Waltrip holds the record for most NASCAR CUP SERIES wins at Bristol Motor Speedway. Previously announced as co-grand marshals for the event are FOX Sports analyst and WRESTLEMANIA host Rob Gronkowski and WWE Superstar Mojo Rawley.

The FOX NASCAR broadcast team of Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds calls the virtual Bristol action from FOX NASCAR studios in Charlotte, with NASCAR CUP SERIES driver Clint Bowyer providing “in-car” commentary. Michael Waltrip and Regan Smith serve as reporters. Last Sunday’s event from virtual Texas Motor Speedway drew 1,339,000 viewers across FOX and FS1, a record for eSports on linear television for the second consecutive week.

Sunday’s FOX NASCAR iRACING event marks the third consecutive televised by FOX Sports, which committed to coverage of the remainder of the season. All races are scheduled to be simulcast on the FOX broadcast network*, FS1 and the FOX Sports app. Races are available in Canada through FOX Sports Racing.

Fox Sports PR

While Bristol Motor Speedway awaits a new date for its fan-favorite Food City 500 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) race, the eyes of the racing world will still be on The Last Great Colosseum on Sunday, April 5 as NASCAR’s top stars compete short-track style on a virtual replica of the famed half-mile all-concrete oval.

The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, created following the postponement of traditional NASCAR Cup Series competition due to the COVID-19 virus, will see NASCAR Cup Series drivers past and present take on the demanding high banks of Bristol during the Food City Showdown. Race action will feature two 50-lap heat races to determine the final starting lineup for the 150-lap main event and will air nationally on the FOX broadcast network (where available and subject to change), FS1 and the FOX Sports app and feature the FOX NASCAR broadcast team of Mike Joy, Jeff Gordon and Larry McReynolds. Green flag is set for shortly after 1 p.m. with the broadcast welcoming former New England Patriots great Rob Gronkowski and current WWE superstar Mojo Rawley as co-Grand Marshals.

"The NASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series has been a great way to keep fans engaged during a tough situation and we're thankful to NASCAR, iRacing and FOX for pushing forward," said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway. "It's going to be surreal to see some of NASCAR's biggest names compete on a virtual version of The Last Great Colosseum. Race fans get the best of both worlds: a virtual short track race providing some sense of normality during our originally scheduled race date as well as the opportunity to return to the track for the eventual running of the Food City 500."

iRacing is the world’s premier motorsports racing simulation, allowing competitors to experience NASCAR in a virtual format. iRacing is a fun, inexpensive and highly competitive way for race enthusiasts to experience the head-to-head challenges that professional racers experience in competition. Virtual Bristol Motor Speedway is sure to be a test for the stars of NASCAR.

“Bristol Motor Speedway on iRacing is going to be a wild race for sure, just like it is any other time we race there,” said William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Hendrick Motorsports in NCS and a longtime proponent of iRacing. “It’s a track that throws many challenges at you and I think this weekend will be no different even though we’re racing there virtually. The fast closing rates coming out of the corners, lap traffic, track position in the top lane, are all things that will come into play. Fans can also expect to see a lot of bumping and banging, that’s for sure. It’ll be entertaining for everyone involved and I’m excited to see how this Sunday’s race turns out.”

Along with the FOX NASCAR broadcast team in FOX’s Charlotte, N.C. studio, NASCAR Cup Series star Clint Bowyer will provide commentary as he drives in the virtual Food City Showdown. In addition to FOX coverage in the U.S., the Food City Showdown will be broadcast internationally, including on TSN and FOX Sports Racing (Canada), Motorvision/Sport 1 (Europe) and Fox Sports Australia (Australia) among other countries/territories.

The Food City Showdown will be the third event in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series following virtual races at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, but the first on a short track, meaning intensity will be at an all-time high for drivers. Denny Hamlin grabbed the inaugural win at Homestead, edging Dale Earnhardt Jr. on a last lap pass while Timmy Hill bumped William Byron out of the way to take the checkered flag at Texas. Both races smashed the previous record for the most-watched esports event in U.S. television history, with the TMS race earning 1.339 million viewers via FOX and FS1.

In addition to the Food City Showdown, drivers from other NASCAR national series, including the NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Gander Outdoors RV & Truck Series, ARCA, the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series and the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, will compete in a special exhibition this Saturday evening, April 4. Saturday Night Thunder will be broadcast on eNASCAR.com/live at 8 p.m.

Prior to Sunday’s Food City Showdown, Bristol Motor Speedway is pulling out all the stops to give race fans a true pre-race experience. The Colossus TV crew of Jose Castillo, Ashley Strohlein and Hannah Newhouse will do an Instagram Live on the BMS Instagram page at 10 a.m. to get viewers excited for the virtual racing action. Race fans will also want to stay tuned to BMS Instagram throughout the day as virtual Texas Motor Speedway race winner Timmy Hill takes you through his race day preparations.

Bristol Motor Speedway will then host a Sunday pre-race concert on all BMS social media pages featuring Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show, country group The Steel Woods and country singer Tennessee Jet. The 30-minute concert is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m.

Instead of a TweetUp at-track this weekend, The Athletic.com motorsports reporter Jeff Gluck will host an official Instagram Live session with special guests on his profile @jeff_gluck at Noon on Sunday.

NASCAR social channels also will provide a 30-minute pre-race show featuring country music singer Justin Moore, hosted by NASCAR.com personality Alex Weaver and NCS driver Austin Dillon. The NASCAR Pre-Race concert will air at 12:30 p.m. E.T. 

To celebrate the Food City Showdown, Bristol Motor Speedway is giving one lucky fan the chance to win the ultimate weekend getaway to The Last Great Colosseum. Fans can enter beginning Saturday by visiting https://www.bristolmotorspeedway.com/predict-and-win/ and selecting the driver they think will win the virtual race. Those who guess correctly will then be placed into a pool where one lucky fan will be randomly selected as the winner. The grand prize includes two weekend tickets for 2021 to either the Food City 500 or Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, one parking pass, two cold passes, a $25 Food City gift card and a $25 Bass Pro Shops gift card.  

Before the Food City Showdown begins, tag the BMS social channels with photos of your Food City homestyle tailgate using the hashtag #TuneInTailgate.

While watching the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway action, all are encouraged to participate in a virtual version of a Speedway Children’s Charities tradition: The Red Bucket Brigade. Normally during BMS NASCAR races, red buckets are passed out for fans to donate their loose change, which is then used to support SCC’s mission to help agencies that support children in need. During the Food City Showdown, race watchers are encouraged to visit https://www.speedwaycharities.org/redbucket/ and give a donation to the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. Funding is critical during this time for agencies on the frontline of child advocacy, so any donation to SCC-Bristol is greatly appreciated and will be used in the 18-county region surrounding the Speedway to support kids in need.

BMS PR

The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, a virtual racing event featuring a full field of NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers, continues Saturday, April 4 with the Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET at Barber Motorsports Park.

The event, which will last approximately 60 minutes, will be broadcast live on NBCSN. The NBC broadcasting team of Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy will call the action. The pre-race activities will be highlighted by 2019 Miss Alabama Tiara Pennington singing the national anthem and NBA and Auburn University legend Charles Barkley giving the command to start engines.

Click: Entry List | Spotter Guide

The entry list of 29 drivers - up from 25 from the series opener March 28 at Watkins Glen International - includes series champions Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Sebastien Bourdais, Tony Kanaan, five Indianapolis 500 winners and collectively has registered 189 series victories.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson also is back this week after starting 19th and finishing 16th last Saturday at Watkins Glen in his first competition in an Indy car, albeit virtual.

The Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is the second of six events to be held weekly each Saturday through May 2. After this event, remaining races include a "Driver's Choice" track (April 11), a "Random Draw" track (April 18), Circuit of The Americas (April 25) and a non-INDYCAR "Dream" track (May 2).

Here are "5 Things To Look For..." heading into Saturday's Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama:

'New Faces'

The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge field grew to 29 drivers for the Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama this Saturday with the addition of five-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing), 2018 series Rookie of the Year Robert Wickens (Arrow McLaren SP), three-time Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge pole winner Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing) and Jack Harvey (Meyer Shank Racing).

All drivers in this week's field - including the four newcomers - will encounter a new strategic element, as a competition caution period will bunch the field on Lap 15. A single-file restart will follow the three-lap caution period.

'Welcome Back, Robert'

2018 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year Robert Wickens will return to competition this weekend as he makes his INDYCAR iRacing Challenge debut in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

Wickens, from Guelph, Ontario, suffered serious injuries in an accident during an INDYCAR race in July 2018 at Pocono Raceway. He will compete Saturday in a SimCraft simulator with special hand controls because of restricted use of his legs and feet due to a spinal cord injury suffered in the crash.

Former INDYCAR driver and current INDYCAR race steward Max Papis is helping Wickens' efforts to compete virtually. Papis' steering wheel company, Max Papis Innovations, designed and produced a custom wheel with hand controls for Wickens. The unit arrived at Wickens' home Thursday, April 2, but he didn't have enough time to get acclimated with it before Saturday's race, so he will use the MPI unit at future rounds of the virtual series.

While Wickens is excited to compete virtually, he sees the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge as another important step in his goal to return to real race cars. His journey also has included tireless hours of physical therapy and rehabilitation, which he has documented often and inspired millions with on social media.

"The biggest thing for me is although this is fun, I see this as the long-term project of getting me back into the race car," Wickens said. "I always knew through simulation was going to be the best way to trial different handbrake or paddle configurations. This is step one of a hundred to get me back into the NTT INDYCAR SERIES."

'Coach Karam'

Sage Karam , a veteran and successful iRacing competitor, so dominated the inaugural round of the series Saturday, March 28 that his rivals have sought his advice this week during preparation for the Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

NTT INDYCAR SERIES veteran Karam won the pole and led 43 of the 45 laps in his No. 24 WIX Filters DRR Chevrolet to beat Felix Rosenqvist of Chip Ganassi Racing to the checkered flag by 3.6174 seconds at Watkins Glen International.

Now that he's a marked man as the current king of INDYCAR iRacing, Karam is dispensing tips to his rivals - to a point.

"It's fun to help them get up to speed in iRacing," Karam said. "I just don't want to give them too much information as I am still competing against them each week from my home. If I can help make the overall product more competitive, it will be great for the racing on the screen and the racing fans."

'Carpenter Back on the Road'

Ed Carpenter is known and respected as one of the best oval racers in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. All three of his career series victories have come on circle tracks, and he also has won the pole for the Indianapolis 500 three times.

Road racing? Well, not so fast. Ed Carpenter Racing owner-driver Carpenter has driven only in oval events for the last six-plus years, with his last road-course start in the series coming Oct. 6, 2013 on the street course in Houston.

But the lure of competing against his friends and rivals in the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge was too much for Carpenter to resist. So, he's hitting the road and making his virtual series debut Sunday in the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet. Carpenter is using the No. 21 of ECR teammate Rinus VeeKay because ECR teammate Conor Daly already is using Carpenter's No. 20 virtual car, as Daly will compete in all real NTT INDYCAR SERIES road and street events this season in the No. 20.

"I am looking forward to finally getting some racing in on Saturday," Carpenter said. "It has been a long time since I competed in a road race. Both the cars and iRacing have changed quite a lot. I am a week late to the party, but hopefully I will be up to speed enough to give the 21 car a good ride! 

"I know my friends and family are excited to watch me, so no pressure! Hopefully everyone tunes into NBCSN and enjoys a little bit of relief from their quarantine."

'Turns for Troops'

United Rentals and NTT INDYCAR SERIES veteran Graham Rahal are teaming up to continue the Turns for Troops program during the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge. United Rentals has committed to donate $50 per lap that Rahal completes this season to the SoldierStrong program to help improve the lives of U.S. military veterans.

Through cutting-edge rehabilitation, recovery and scholarship programs, SoldierStrong transforms the lives of U.S. service members by empowering them to regain their mobility, freedom and overall sense of identity.

Fans can learn more about Turns for Troops and SoldierStrong by visiting turnsfortroops.ur.com.

IndyCar PR

Page 2 of 3837