Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Details:

 

• Event: O’Reilly Auto Parts 125 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series
• Time/Date: 1 p.m. EDT on Sunday, March 29
• Location: Virtual Texas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
• Distance: 125 laps (187.5 miles)

 

Where to Watch:

 

• FOX network

    •  Announcers: Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds, with in-race commentary from Clint Bowyer.

• FS1 (DIRECTV Channel 219 and Dish Channel 150)

• FOX Sports Go app

• FOX Sports Racing for fans in Canada

 

Overview:

 

• The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series is an exhibition esports series featuring a collection of actual racecar drivers from the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.


• The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series kicked off last Sunday at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway. Texas Motor Speedway serves as the second race of the series. The Pro Invitational Series is designed to emulate emulating the original 2020 NASCAR Cup Series schedule from week to week.


• With the sports world on a necessary hiatus to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series exists for the drivers to have a bit of fun until the resumption of their respective series schedules.


• Each race in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series will consist of 35 drivers.

 

 

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Camry in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series:

How was your first iRacing experience last week?

“It was quite interesting last week. Ty Gibbs offered me up his rig because I did not have one and I was over at his place last weekend running on his rig. I made some phone calls this week to see who had one since I’m hoping after maybe six weeks we can get back to the racetrack and do what we do each week and I won’t really need to have one. So I’m going on the borrowed train right now for my rig.”

 

Who has been helping you out and what are you using for a rig?

“I got the sim guys over to my house to set one up. Last week, I had to drive 45 minutes over to Ty’s to practice and then 45 minutes back. So now, after we put Brexton (Busch, son) to bed, I can go down there and start working on getting better. Texas seems like it’s going to be a heck of a lot more simple than Homestead was as far as the driving aspect. You just have to hit your marks in turns one and two and get back to the gas and turns three and four, which are going to be wide open. Happy to have Interstate Batteries on board with us this week. They have been a part of iRacing since the beginning with Joe Gibbs Racing, so they’ve been a big supporter of JGR’s regular eNASCAR team. Everyone’s doing it – it’s the hot thing to do – and it was certainly fun to do last weekend to help everyone forget about everything that is happening in the real world. Everyone seems to enjoy it. A lot of guys are getting a little more serious about it and everyone is spending more time, so I figured if I’m going to stop running 30th, I’m going to need to get some more laps (laughing).”

 

Busch Homestead Invitational Notes:

• This will be Busch’s second ever iRacing start in a virtual NASCAR Cup Series race.

 

• This is not Interstate Batteries’ first foray into the world of eNASCAR, as the company was the first partner to join Joe Gibbs Racing’s eSports effort last year in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series. For 2020, Interstate Batteries is a weekly sponsor on the No. 18 Toyota driven by Graham Bolin in the regular iRacing Series. Not only was Interstate Batteries the founding sponsor of JGR back in 1992, it was the first to join JGR’s iRacing and NASCAR Heat teams beginning in its inaugural season in 2019.

 

 • In addition to Interstate’s extensive involvement in iRacing, Busch’s Rowdy Energy Drink is a sponsor on the No. 51 Toyota driven by Malik Ray in the weekly eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series for JGR.  

 

• Last weekend, ARCA Menards Series driver Ty Gibbs helped Busch get up to speed in his iRacing rig as Busch had never tried iRacing until practice the day prior to the first iRacing Pro Invitational race last Sunday at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway. This week, Busch has had a rig brought to his house and has been busy practicing for Sunday at virtual Texas. William Hartman, Busch’s engineer on his regular No. 18 Toyota Camry Cup Series car, also helped Busch last weekend and will serve as crew chief for this weekend. In addition to Hartman, Busch’s real-life spotter Tony Hirschman is setting up to spot Busch on Sunday from his home in Pennsylvania.

 

• In actual NASCAR Cup Series racing on the 1.5-mile Texas oval, Busch has three wins, 12 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s in 28 starts.

 

TSC PR

iRacing Means WeRacing

Thursday, Mar 26

Matt DiBenedetto and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang will return to competition on network TV this weekend as the sport’s iRacing wing steps up to deliver live content to a sports world starved for entertainment due to the coronavirus.

Sunday’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at virtual Texas Motor Speedway is the second event held this season featuring mostly Cup drivers but the first to be carried on FOX. Last week’s race at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway was broadcast on FOX Sports 1, which also is airing this week’s race.

The Invitational races might seem on the surface like a hastily assembled affair, but they are made possible by iRacing’s infrastructure already in place.

Drivers participate via computers in their own homes, with their consoles varying from $40,000 rigs to some costing just a few hundred dollars.

The Wood Brothers, with backing from the dockless electric scooter rental company Spin, a Ford Motor Co. property, already were involved in on-line racing and fielded four drivers last year.

Two competed in the 18-race NASCAR Peak iRacing League, and two more in the 16-race season for the NASCAR Heat Pro League.
 
Jon Wood, senior vice president and co-owner of the Wood Brothers team, said the foundation already laid by iRacing is the reason NASCAR fans can watch Cup drivers in action even though the traditional cars are idled indefinitely. 

 “iRacing took a chance before anyone else in being a NASCAR eSports league,” Wood said, giving much of the credit to iRacing Executive Vice President and Executive Producer Steve Myers, and to Otto Szebeni, who is iRacing’s director of sales and marketing. “We met them at Homestead in 2018 and they mentioned the idea of having an esports league. 

 “We really knew nothing about what they were planning, but the notion of an iRacing league, made up of some Cup teams seemed like a really good idea. 
 
“We joined in and were actually the first team to commit, not knowing if it would be a total flop or a booming success.”
 
After some initial difficulties explaining the concept of online racing to the old-school members of his family’s race team, Wood said his team now fully supports a venture that has become a leader in a sports world scrambling for ways to deliver content.
 
And, as with their traditional Cup team, the Woods have strong support from Ford in their iRacing venture.
 
Wood credited Brett Wheatley, who once oversaw the Motorcraft sponsorship and now oversees the company’s mobility and autonomous vehicle businesses including Spin, with recognizing the potential of esports like iRacing.
  
“Brett wanted to be a part of our esports venture, seeing it for what it could be at some point down the road,” Wood said. I think he accurately called that shot.”
 
Now, with few sports broadcasting options other than re-runs, the vision of folks like Wheatley and the iRacing execs is paying off.
 
 “The shutting down of all of America has kickstarted the e-sports revolution, but iRacing was already there and totally killing it long before this virus took hold,” Wood said. “If not for last year’s Peak Series and this year’s Coca-Cola iRacing Series, I can almost guarantee we wouldn’t be talking about iRacing in the way we are now.” 

 “The infrastructure and relationships were already there because of team involvement.”
 Wood said it took no more than a single text message relating to last Sunday’s Homestead race. From letting the team know the race would happen to making sure Matt and his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang would be involved was a single back and forth text. No contracts, no delays.  

 “That level of trust and knowing whatever they do, we know it will be done right.  That wouldn’t exist had it not been for the already existing relationships we have, and I think many other teams probably have very similar experiences,” Wood said. 
 
The O’Reilly Auto Parts 125 race at virtual Texas Motor Speedway takes place on Sunday, March 29, at 1 p.m. Eastern Time and is available on FOX, FS1, and the FOX Sports app.

WBR PR

Details:

 

Race:  O’Reilly Auto Parts 125 (Round 2)

• Series:  eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series

• Time/Date:  1 p.m. EDT on Sunday, March 29

• Location:  Virtual Texas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)

• Distance:  125 laps (187.5 miles)

 

Where to Watch:

 

• FOX network

    •  Announcers: Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds, with in-race commentary from Clint Bowyer.

• FS1 (DIRECTV Channel 219 and Dish Channel 150)

• FOX Sports Go app

• FOX Sports Racing for fans in Canada

 

DYK?:

 

• Last Sunday’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway was the single most-watched esports event in U.S. history. The race drew 903,000 viewers on FS1, besting the previous high of 770,000 viewers when Mortal Kombat aired on The CW in 2016.

 

• The race was the highest-rated broadcast on FS1 since mass postponements of sporting events began on March 15.

 

• During the race, the #ProInvitationalSeries was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter in the United States.

 

Overview:

 

• The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series is an exhibition esports series featuring a collection of actual racecar drivers from the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.

 

• The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series kicked off last Sunday at Homestead and it is a multi-week series emulating the original 2020 NASCAR Cup Series schedule.

 

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

 

• Each race in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series consists of 35 drivers and all races are broadcast by FOX Sports.

 

Clint Bowyer, Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang:

 

“We’ve had a partnership with iRacing on our dirt late model team for several years and we’ve run an iRacing team since last year. I've always jumped on it from time to time even though a lot of people don’t know that. My favorite thing to do on iRacing is not my day job. I came from dirt racing, so I love to get on there and burn laps on a dirt late model, a sprint car or midget. Heck, I’ve even done off-road truck racing. Those are my favorite things to do. A lot of my fans and peers get on and run Cup races and tracks we race on every week. For me, iRacing gives me a chance to drive something I’ve always wanted to drive, but never had the chance. That’s why I love iRacing, and I love the fact that this Pro Invitational Series has made more people aware of iRacing. Now, that means more eyeballs on us this Sunday, so I need to step up my game and put my Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang up front.”

 

 

 

• Bowyer started 11th and finished 16th in last week’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at Homestead.

 

• Bowyer considers himself a hobby iRacer. Last Sunday’s race at Homestead was his first official iRacing start in a virtual NASCAR Cup Series race.

 

• Bowyer’s eponymous iRacing team competes in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series with drivers Brandon Kettelle and Brian Schoenberg, and Bowyer’s dirt late model team has been sponsored by iRacing for several years.

 

• In actual NASCAR Cup Series racing at Texas, Bowyer has four top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 28 career starts.

 

• Bowyer’s best Texas finish is second, earned twice (April 2011 and March 2019).

 

• Anheuser-Busch, the country’s largest sponsor of live sports and entertainment, is redirecting it sports and entertainment investments to its non-profit partners to respond to the coronavirus public health crisis. As part of a $5 million donation to the American Red Cross, Anheuser-Busch, alongside its sports partners, will identify available arenas and stadiums to be used for temporary blood drive centers. As part of the donation, Anheuser-Busch is donating media air time to the Red Cross in support of its public service announcements. To learn more about how to attend a blood drive, visit RedCross.org. Additionally, Anheuser-Busch is using its supply and logistics network to produce and distribute bottles of hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer will be utilized at Red Cross blood donation centers and to support emergency shelters for future relief efforts.

 

Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 98 Ford Performance Racing School/HighPoint.com Ford Mustang:

 

“It obviously hasn’t been the greatest time for anybody right now, so it’s cool to have a way to keep your mind off of it. There isn’t really anything on TV and there are no other sporting events going on, so to be the only sport that can still continue, it’s been really cool to see everybody embrace it. When the idea first came out to run iRacing on FOX, I think people were curious to see how it was going to go and concerned that it wouldn’t be like ‘real life’, but it’s as close as we can get to it. It fills that void for the racing we don’t have right now, and it’s an awesome way to keep us occupied, keep the fans involved, and the sponsors as well. And maybe we’re opening the sport up to people that normally wouldn’t pay attention. It’s been really cool to see how many fans have gotten behind it.

 

“It’s been quite a bit different going from the Xfinity car to the Cup car, even though it’s iRacing. It’s realistic enough that even in simulation the cars don’t drive similarly at all. In the Cup Series car, there’s a lot more on throttle time and a lot less brake, so Texas will be a lot of the same. We’ll be on the gas a lot and drafting down the straightaway. They’re different, but it still takes the same characteristics to go fast and win, and I got that part figured out last weekend at Homestead. Texas is kind of an unknown to me. iRacing just updated the track a few weeks ago with the repaved surface and changes to the banking, so I don’t even have any laps around there. It’ll be a learning curve for sure, and it isn’t the best feeling to know I have to race my way into the main event. We saw last weekend that anything can happen to keep some of the better guys from being in the race. That being said, I feel good about our chances to run up front again with the Ford Performance Racing School/HighPoint.com Mustang.”

 

 

• Briscoe started sixth and finished fourth in last week’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at Homestead.

 

• Briscoe is a regular iRacer, but mainly in the Xfinity Series. Prior to Homestead, The Replacements 100 March 17 at the virtual Atlanta Motor Speedway was Briscoe’s most recent iRacing start in a virtual NASCAR Cup Series race.

 

• In actual racing, Briscoe has never competed in the NASCAR Cup Series. He is currently in his second full season of Xfinity Series racing.

 

• Briscoe has three Xfinity Series starts at Texas with a best finish of fourth, earned last March.

 

• Briscoe also has two Truck Series starts at Texas with a best finish of second, earned in June 2017. And when the Truck Series returned to Texas that November, Briscoe finished fourth.

 

About Stewart-Haas eSports:

 

NASCAR is the ultimate test of driver acumen and mechanical know-how, where teams scrutinize every detail in a never-ending quest for speed. Stewart-Haas Racing has thrived in this environment, winning races and championships to firmly establish its presence in NASCAR. Stewart-Haas eSports emulates these efforts in the virtual world, where sim technology provides a visceral experience that amplifies the grit and determination of NASCAR drivers in the real world. Stewart-Haas eSports is a natural extension of Stewart-Haas Racing, where competition and simulation are one. For more information, please visit us online at www.StewartHaasRacing.com and follow on Twitter @SHR_eSports.

 

SHR PR

In what came down to a last-second decision in the final matchup, the Final Four is set in #RoushMadness as No. 1 seeds Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards advanced, while the No. 7 seed Ryan Newman pulled the ultimate upset over No. 1 Mark Martin.

The two final four matchups – Biffle vs. Edwards and Kenseth vs. Newman – get underway Thursday night with voting set to end Friday at noon ET. From there, the Championship will take place Friday night to determine the fans’ choice in the greatest driver in Roush Fenway Racing history.

Newman Pulls Ultimate Upset Over Martin
With over 6600 votes cast, and a deciding margin of just 146 votes, Newman took down No. 1 overall seed Martin on Thursday, 51-49, to advance through to the Final Four. At one point, Martin trimmed the difference to just a point, but Newman again rallied the troops on Twitter to decide it.

Edwards Too Much for McMurray in Elite Eight
Edwards managed to tally the second-largest blowout of the tournament in terms of total votes (1245), defeating Jamie McMurray 84-16.

Biffle Bests Ragan
Biffle, who holds the fourth-most amount of votes throughout #RoushMadness thus far with 2899, handled No. 2 David Ragan with ease, 82-18.

Kenseth Topples Burton to Move On
The Mayor’s run in #RoushMadness came to an end in the Elite Eight after falling to Kenseth, 71-29.

It’s a True Fastenal Final Four
Fastenal, celebrating its 10-Year Anniversary with Roush Fenway in 2020, has the perfect scenario in the Fastenal Final Four, as all four remaining drivers ran a Fastenal branded-car at some point in their careers.

Fastenal joined the RFR stable in 2010 coming on board as an Xfinity Series partner for Carl Edwards’ No. 60 entry. They followed Edwards to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2012, sponsoring him in the No. 99 entry until his departure at the end of 2014. From there, they partnered with Ricky Stenhouse Jr., beginning in 2015, and now serve as the primary for Chris Buescher’s No. 17 machine.

At one point in the company’s history, they served as the primary partner on all three of Jack Roush’s NCS entries, at the 2012 Charlotte spring race, where Biffle, Kenseth and Edwards each carried Fastenal colors. That trend followed again in 2013 and 2014 when Stenhouse joined Biffle and Edwards in Fastenal blue for the spring Charlotte events.

For Newman, Fastenal was aboard his No. 5 machine for JR Motorsports in the 2009 Xfinity Series season, including races at Dover, Chicago, Michigan and Bristol.  

Vote Leaders Thus Far
With just four drivers left, Newman leads the way in total sum of votes in #RoushMadess, amassing 6903. Martin is next-closest with 5428, with Edwards (3864), Biffle (2899) and McMurray (2610) rounding out the top five.

UP NEXT
The Final Four kicks off Thursday night with Biffle vs. Edwards and Kenseth vs. Newman. In terms of Cup wins, that’s 19 vs. 28 and 39 vs. 18. In terms of car numbers, matchups feature the No. 16 vs. No. 99, and No. 17 vs. No. 6.  

RFR PR

MCDOWELL ON VIRTUAL TEXAS:
 
I was really glad to hear the news this week that NASCAR, iRacing and FOX Sports have agreed to partner up once again to broadcast the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race on FS1. Texas Motor Speedway has always been a track that I enjoy racing at in real life, so I am excited to see what it will be like from a virtual perspective.
 
"Now that drivers have had some time to get comfortable with making the switch from racing in person to racing in a virtual realm, I can imagine that we will see a lot of hard racing this weekend that is hopefully entertaining for the fans tuning in. My Love's Travel Stops Ford Mustang is ready to go and I'm excited to be back racing for the second consecutive Sunday.
 
"I would also like to thank all of the guys at the shop for working so hard this week to build me a custom simulator to race on. With the overwhelming responses from drivers that are eager to be part of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, most of the simulators in and around the Charlotte, N.C. area have been either rented out or purchased, leaving me with limited options to be able to compete in the series. Thankfully, my guys were able to put one together for me, so hopefully I can make them proud this weekend."
 
FRM PR

Earlier today, the NTT IndyCar Series announced schedule changes which  involved both the Indianapolis 500 and World Wide Technology Raceway. As a result, the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 now will take place on Sunday, August 30, 2020.

“The current situation requires that everyone be fluid, solve problems and work together,” said WWTR Owner and CEO Curtis Francois. “The entire INDYCAR organization worked closely with us to come to a solution that enables us to host the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 just one week later than originally scheduled. We are grateful for their continued support and will be coming up with creative ideas for the promotion of the event.

“We now are in conversations with the other sanctioning bodies involved with the race weekend to develop a new event schedule of activities. We will be providing updates as soon possible so that our fans can enjoy a great weekend of racing in St. Louis on August 28-30, 2020.”

Fans are encouraged to visit WWTR’s website, www.wwtraceway.com, and its social media channels (@wwtraceway) for additional information.

For additional information on World Wide Technology Raceway, please call (618) 215-8888 ext. 119 or visit www.WWTRaceway.com. Follow WWTR on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

WWTR PR

NEMECHEK ON VIRTUAL TEXAS:
 
"I'm excited that the idea of hosting virtual races while we are not competing on track has taken off. It was a lot of fun being to participate in the inaugural event last weekend. We're fortunate to have this kind of alternative in our sport to engage with our fans and partners in this difficult time and I'm glad that NASCAR, iRacing and FOX Sports have been able to collaborate and turn this idea into reality.
 
"Honestly, it doesn't matter that we're not physically racing in person; as a driver, you just want to get out there and turn laps. We're still a very competitive group by nature and we all want to put on a great show for everyone watching.
 
"I want to thank our friends and partners at ROMCO for coming on board our No. 38 Ford Mustang this weekend at (virtual) Texas. They've been with our family for a long time and I'm happy that we still have the opportunity to run their hometown track with the ROMCO colors on board."
 
FRM PR
INDYCAR announced earlier today that the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is expected to be rescheduled for later in 2020. The event was originally set for March 13-15, 2020.
 
This shift to a later date is in support of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ efforts to run as many of its points championship races as possible in 2020 and would be expected to serve as the season finale round.
 
The rescheduled date is subject to the ongoing guidance and mandates of national, state and local authorities regarding public gatherings. The health and safety of all associated with this event will remain the priority of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
 
Previously purchased tickets to the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg would be valid and honored on the rescheduled date yet to be determined. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for any questions on ticket purchases and additional information.
 
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg PR
"INDYCAR announced earlier today that the Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway (PIR) originally set for Sept. 4-6, 2020, has been moved to one week later on the calendar to Sept. 11-13, 2020.
 
This shift is in support of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ efforts to run as many of its points championship races as possible in 2020. The date at PIR moving back also opens up the summer calendar further for the Indianapolis 500 to run on August 23, 2020.
 
This rescheduled date is subject to the ongoing guidance and mandates of national, state and local authorities regarding public gatherings. The health and safety of all associated with this event will remain the priority of the Grand Prix of Portland and PIR.
 
Previously purchased tickets to the Grand Prix of Portland will be valid and honored on the rescheduled dates of Sept. 11-13, 2020. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for any questions on ticket purchases and additional information."
 
Grand Prix of Portland PR
 
"INDYCAR announced earlier today that The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course originally set for Aug. 14-16, 2020, has been moved to one week earlier on the calendar to Aug. 7-9, 2020.
 
This shift is in support of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ efforts to run as many of its points championship races as possible in 2020. Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course moving up its date also opens up the summer calendar further for the Indianapolis 500 to run on August 23, 2020.
 
This rescheduled date is subject to the ongoing guidance and mandates of national, state and local authorities regarding public gatherings. The health and safety of all associated with this event will remain the priority of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
 
Previously purchased tickets to The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be valid and honored on the rescheduled dates of Aug. 7-9, 2020. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for any questions on ticket purchases and additional information."
 
Mid-Ohio PR