Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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With the growing blood supply shortage due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, Texas Motor Speedway and Speedway Children's Charities Texas Chapter is partnering with the American Red Cross North Texas Region and The NASCAR Foundation for a blood drive April 1 at the Lone Star Condominium Clubhouse.

The blood drive is scheduled for 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. CT. The Lone Star Condominium Clubhouse is located at 3575 Lone Star Circle, Fort Worth, Texas 76177, just outside Turn 2 of the speedway property. Those interested in donating should click HERE
 to register.
 
Additionally, The NASCAR Foundation has committed support to the American Red Cross North Texas Region to help continue its lifesaving mission in North Texas due to this pandemic. Donations to The NASCAR Foundation can be made HERE.
 
"The NASCAR Foundation is working with local and national charities to help provide support for families that have been impacted by the pandemic," said Nichole Krieger, Executive Director, , The NASCAR Foundation. "Through a partnership with Speedway Children's Charities Texas Chapter and Texas Motor Speedway, response efforts will focus on helping the American Red Cross in this local community."
 
Direct financial donations will support the American Red Cross in the following ways:
 
  • Ensuring that we have sufficient workers and resources to collect vital blood products.
  • Investing in public consciousness to raise awareness and inspire individuals to donate blood.
  • Equipping and training disaster workers to provide a safe environment for those affected by disasters.
  • Increasing their ability to provide key services virtually.
  • Working with community partners to provide supplies and meals when called upon.
 
"We're proud to be working with great organizations like The NASCAR Foundation and the American Red Cross North Texas Chapter on this mission to help save lives during this critical moment in time, ," said Eddie Gossage, President and General Manager of Texas Motor Speedway. "This is not the first time TMS, SCC and the American Red Cross have joined forces. When Hurricane Harvey struck south Texas, TMS and SCC hosted an ARC donation collection site, receiving supplies and hauling them to affected areas. We have seen the great lengths ARC goes to in order to serve our community when we need it most, and we are honored to continue to support its efforts in every way we can."
 
To donate online, visit HERE and select "Coronavirus Outbreak." To make a contribution by check, write "Coronavirus Outbreak" in the memo line, and mail it to your local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37839, Boone, IA 50037-0839. Find a Red Cross blood drive near you HERE.
 
TMS PR

The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, a virtual racing event featuring a full field of NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers, begins this weekend with Saturday's American Red Cross Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

The event, which will last approximately 90 minutes, will be streamed through INDYCAR.com while INDYCAR's YouTube and Facebook platforms as well as iRacing's Twitch will serve as additional outlets for viewing. The NBC broadcasting team of Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy will be calling the action. The pre-race activities will be highlighted by iconic national anthem singer Jim Cornelison adding his voice as he has for the past three Indianapolis 500s.

Click: Entry List

The entry list of 25 drivers includes series champions Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Sebastien Bourdais, Tony Kanaan, four Indianapolis 500 winners and collectively has registered 140 series victories. The Team Penske trio of Newgarden, Pagenaud and Power, along with the A.J. Foyt Racing duo of Bourdais and Kanaan, have combined for nine series championships led by Bourdais' four and two by Newgarden.

If that wasn't enough talent, a driver with a record-tying seven NASCAR Cup Series crowns - Jimmie Johnson - will join the virtual race as a "special guest" entrant.

The American Red Cross Grand Prix is the first of six events to be held weekly each Saturday through May 2. The opening event will be followed by others at Barber Motorsports Park (April 4), 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 American Red Cross Grand Prix:

 

Alexander Rossi

"On The Road Again"

 

 

Fan voting through a bracket format voted Watkins Glen International as the first venue "host" of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES has staged 11 actual races at the permanent road course in upstate New York, with the most recent coming in 2017. The sport's history at Watkins Glen dates to 1979 when Bobby Unser won in a CART-sanctioned event.

The 3.4-mile permanent road course figures to play no particular favorites with only Team Penske's Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet) and Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi (No. 27 AutoNation/NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda) having won actual NTT INDYCAR SERIES races on it among those competing in this virtual field. Rossi won in the series' last visit in 2017 while Power earned his victory in 2010.

 

 

James Hinchcliffe and the American Red Cross

"Sleeves Up"

 

 

 

The opening event was named the American Red Cross Grand Prix to bring awareness to the organization and the efforts to encourage blood donations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The American Red Cross faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this period.

INDYCAR is stepping up to help the American Red Cross, and the sanctioning body is challenging people to join them in rolling up their sleeves to give blood. While blood donation is a safe and secure process, the American Red Cross is taking an abundance of caution, including temperature screening and enhanced disinfecting, to ensure the safety of donors, recipients, volunteers, staff and the blood supply. Patients across the country need your support.

Please help by making an appointment to give blood to the American Red Cross by visiting https://sleevesup.redcrossblood.org/campaign/sleeves-up-with-indycar/. For more information on the American Red Cross, please visit www.redcross.org.

 

 

 

Jimmie Johnson

"New Kids On The Block"

 

 

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Ally Chevrolet) was scheduled to test an Indy car April 6 with Arrow McLaren SP at Barber Motorsports Park, but those plans were put on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic.

For the time being, he will settle for some virtual racing against the series' best and may get an opportunity to take on Barber Motorsports Park if he is planning to compete in Round 2 of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge. Johnson announced that 2020 will be his final NASCAR Cup season and has expressed an interest in possibly participating in the series on road/street courses in the future.

Two-time defending Virgin Australia Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin (No. 2 Shell V-Power Chevrolet) of Team Penske also will be participating in the American Red Cross Grand Prix. McLaughlin has tested an Indy car at Sebring and Circuit of The Americas this year and it was announced by the team in February that he would make his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut in the GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course.

When it comes to iRacing, you may want to keep an eye on McLaughlin. He has amassed 497 victories in 1,189 starts, both tops among any of the entrants in the American Red Cross Grand Prix. Of those wins, 178 have come on road courses.

 

 

Sage Karam's virtual car design

"The Process"

 

 

 

The starting lineup for the American Red Cross Grand Prix will be set through a 10-minute qualifying session prior to the event that will go green shortly after 4 p.m. The race should last approximately 90 minutes.

In the interest of fairness, iRacing will give all participants the same car setups. Teams will have the ability to design each driver's car livery to match their desired paint scheme, making them easily recognizable to the viewers.

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.

 

 

Will Power

"Power & Speed"

 

 

 

 

This might be INDYCAR's first virtual race featuring a full field of its stars, but there are several drivers who could emerge as early favorites given their iRacing experience.

According to iRacing statistics provided this week, Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet) has made 1,145 road course starts in the sim game, winning 156 times (13.6 percent). Power's rate of top-five finishes is an astounding 46.5 percent.

Yet, other drivers have even better marks.

Scott Speed, who will drive Andretti Autosport's No. 98 U.S. Concrete/Curb Honda, has won 44.3 percent of his iRacing road course races (71 of 160). Team Penske's Scott McLaughlin (No. 2 Shell V-Power Team Penske Chevrolet) has won 33.7 percent (178 of 528). Sage Karam (No. 24 DRR Wix Filters Chevrolet) of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing wins at a 26.9 percent clip (143 of 532).

In terms of career iRacing road-course wins among the entrants, McLaughlin leads the way with 178 and is followed by Power (156) and Karam (143).

Other entrants with more than 100 iRacing road-course starts are Pato O'Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet) with 219, Alex Palou (No. 55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda) with 105, and Santino Ferrucci (No. 18 SealMaster Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan) with 101.

NTT IndyCar Series PR

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum officials have shifted the term of closure to “until further notice” given the ongoing National Emergency and humanitarian crisis due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
 
In previous communication (March 13), museum officials targeted a reopening date of March 30,
before Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issued an executive order requiring all non-essential businesses to close until April 7.
 
IMS Museum managers are monitoring the reports and recommendations of public health officials, and maintaining communications with Indianapolis Motor Speedway management, and will endeavor to reopen the Museum as soon as appropriately possible.
 
The museum staff graciously thanks the many donors and new members who have provided financial support to the non-profit IMS Foundation (which operates the Museum) during this unprecedented time.
 
In the wake of the March 26 IMS and NTT IndyCar Series joint announcement of the shift in 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge activities to August and GMR Grand Prix to July 4, the Museum staff is reviewing all options to shift traditional “Month of May” events, including the annual Hall of Fame Day Legends Autograph Session and IMS Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Special Recognition Dinner presented by Firestone.
 
The Museum will announce rescheduled or cancelled events as soon as possible, and likewise will communicate directly with our key event constituencies in timely fashion.
 
Museum Educational and Entertainment Resources: For parents of school-age children, the Museum recently expanded its educational offerings at indyracingmuseum.org. Please click on the “Learn More” tab at the top-right of the page and select “Education” for downloadable/printable lesson plans (grades 3-6) and fun activities.
 
For families and race fans sheltering at home, the Museum’s communications, curatorial, education and membership staffs have teamed up to produce online content for all ages, and fans are encouraged to visit our website and social media channels for entertaining and educational content. You’ll find the IMS Museum on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at the address @imsmuseum, and our YouTube channel is Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
 
We wish everyone safety and ask that you simply follow the guidance of our public health and safety officials in order to protect all ages.
 
IMS Museum PR

In these challenging times, the entire NWES community relay the #StayHome message and encourage everybody to be smart and safe. When it will be time to return racing, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will hit the track with a record number of 33 full-time entries, fielded by 17 teams for the 2020 NWES season.

Champion team Hendriks Motorsport will expand to put three cars in the entry list, while EuroNASCAR 2 title winning squad DF1 Racing will field four Chevrolet Camaros. A fifth car will be entered by the Austrians in cooperation with Marko Stipp Motorsport. CAAL Racing and Jacques Villeneuve’s Feed Vict Racing will have four V8 beasts each ready for the upcoming season. The Italian powerhouse also reached a technical partnership with Solaris Motorsport, which will return with their Camaro. There are several two-car teams confirmed for the 2020 NWES season: Alex Caffi Motorsport, RDV Competition, PK Carsport, 42 Racing and Braxx Racing. Memphis Racing, Mishumotors, Marko Stipp Motorsport, Team Bleekemolen and newcomer TC Motorsports will field one full-time entry each.

As proven by the many drivers already announced during the offseason, the competition level will be the highest in NWES history, with an unprecedented number of drivers capable of winning. The battle for titles and trophies will be more intense than ever before.


What Team Managers said

 

Roy Hendriks (Hendriks Motorsport): “The competition will be outstanding and there have been several big names already announced. I think it will be harder in 2020 than it was last year. Beside ours there are a lot of good drivers joining the other teams. The cars are ready to race and also the whole team and all drivers want to get back to the track as soon as possible. But we fully understand that it’s not responsible to go racing during this crisis. We make the best out of it, as we have more time to think about strategies and setups right now.”

Norbert Walchhofer (DF1 Racing): “I really think the upcoming season will be the strongest one in the history of NWES. Our drivers are well prepared and we’re looking positively to the 2020 season despite these difficult times. We are looking forward to hitting the track again soon and continuing our winning streak from 2019.”

Jacques Villeneuve (Feed Vict Racing): “It’s great to see so many entries because it shows that there’s a lot of interest in the series. There are also many important names joining. The races are exciting, the cars are fun to drive, the tracks are great and the drivers are hungry for pure racing. There’s a place for everyone, from 16 to 70 years old. We all can’t wait to go back racing, but now it’s the time to be smart and focus on going through this difficult moment, hoping to return to the track soon.”

Luca Canneori (CAAL Racing): “We worked hard during the winter, preparing our cars and completing several test days. We are ready for a season with no equals as far as competition on track. Having so many strong competitors is positive for the whole sport. We are of course looking forward to going back racing soon and giving the fans some unique NASCAR races.”

Anthony Kumpen (PK Carsport): “We’ve already won our first race in 2020 with our new driver Alon Day piloting the #24 Monster Energy car at virtual Watkins Glen. I watched the sim race and it was nice! To have such a big grid for the 2020 NWES season is good news. Since joining the series in 2014 I always said that EuroNASCAR is one of the fastest growing series in Europe and it is becoming really strong. It’s a special mix of experienced and young drivers, surrounded by great crowds at the tracks, a special atmosphere. It’s great to be part of the series for a team like us.”

Franck Violas (RDV Competition): “We started racing in NWES ten years ago and year after year the level kept rising. It’s amazing to have so many teams and drivers with the potential to win a race. It’s not like in other series where the same drivers and teams end up on the podium. We had a tough 2019 season but I think we will look way better in the 2020 championship. To have 33 full time entries already is great for us as we can prove ourselves in this tight and high-level competition. We work very hard to be successful again.” 

Jerry De Weerdt (Braxx Racing): “I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season as we worked hard during the winter to put everything in place. We are still working on filling a third car with good drivers. I think we already have a strong line-up for the series. Marc Goossens will join us again and he’s always good for podiums and wins. We also have young drivers in our rows who have the potential to bring home some good results in 2020.”

NWES PR

NBC Sports Group earned 24 Sports Emmy Award nominations for 2019, highlighted by recognition for its coverage of the NFL, NHL, Kentucky Derby, NASCAR, Premier League, FIFA Women’s World Cup, golf, and Tour de France.

The announcement was made today by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Highlights of NBC Sports Group’s nominations:

  • Sunday Night Football – primetime television’s No. 1 show – was nominated again for Outstanding Live Sports Series, which it has won 10 times in the past 11 years;
  • NBC received two nominations in the Outstanding Live Sports Special category for its presentations of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final and the 145th Kentucky Derby;
  • NBC earned a nomination in the Outstanding Studio Show – Weekly category for Football Night in America, and a nomination for Outstanding Studio Show – Daily for NHL Live;
  • Tour de France coverage on NBC and NBCSN garnered nominations for its Outstanding Technical Team Remote, and The George Wensel Technical Achievement Award for augmented reality;
  • NBC and NBCSN earned a nomination in the Outstanding Editing – Long Form category for its production of the documentary Drive Like Andretti about the life of motorsports icon Mario Andretti;
  • Mike Tirico (NBC) was nominated in the Outstanding Sports Personality – Host category for the second consecutive year;
  • Mike “Doc” Emrick (NBC), who has won the Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality – Play-by-Play in six consecutive years and seven of the last nine, was nominated once again in the category along with Al Michaels (NBC) and Kenny Albert (NBC/NBCSN);
  • Cris Collinsworth, winner of 16 Sports Emmys throughout his career, was nominated for the Outstanding Sports Personality – Sports Event Analyst category;
  • Michele Tafoya (NBC), the only three-time winner of the Outstanding Sports Personality – Sports Reporter Emmy, was nominated for the ninth time in the nine-year history of the category;
  • Andrés Cantor (Telemundo), winner of three Sports Emmys, was nominated for Outstanding On-Air Sports Personality in Spanish.

 

NBC Sports Group earns a total of 24 nominations, including three nominations for GOLF Channel and two nominations for Telemundo.

The complete list of NBC Sports Group nominations are as follows:

  • Outstanding Live Sports Special: 2019 Stanley Cup Final (NBC)
  • Outstanding Live Sports Special: 145th Kentucky Derby (NBC)
  • Outstanding Live Sports Series: Sunday Night Football (NBC)
  • Outstanding Edited Sports Event Coverage: Ironman World Championship (NBC)
  • Outstanding Short Sports Documentary: Golf Films: Chi Chi and Devo (GOLF Channel)
  • Outstanding Studio Show – Weekly: Football Night in America (NBC)
  • Outstanding Studio Show – Daily: NHL Live (NBC/NBCSN)
  • Outstanding Studio Show – Daily: The Dan Patrick Show (NBCSN/B/R Live/DirecTV)
  • Outstanding Short Feature: NCAA Golf Championships – Life Without Katie: The Jason Enloe Story (GOLF Channel)
  • Outstanding Trans-Media Sports Coverage: Premier League (NBC/NBCSN)
  • Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Host: Mike Tirico (NBC/NBCSN)
  • Outstanding Sports Personality – Play-by-Play: Mike “Doc” Emrick (NBC/NBCSN)
  • Outstanding Sports Personality – Play-by-Play: Al Michaels (NBC)
  • Outstanding Sports Personality – Play-by-Play: Kenny Albert (NBC/NBCSN/FOX/FS1/MSG)
  • Outstanding Sports Personality – Sports Event Analyst: Cris Collinsworth (NBC)
  • Outstanding Sports Personality – Sports Reporter: Michele Tafoya (NBC)
  • Outstanding Technical Team Remote: Tour de France (NBC/NBCSN)
  • Outstanding Editing – Long Form: Drive Like Andretti (NBC/NBCSN)
  • Outstanding Live Event Audio/Sound: NASCAR on NBC (NBC/NBCSN)
  • Outstanding Live Graphic Design: NHL on NBC (NBC/NBCSN)
  • The George Wensel Technical Achievement Award: Tour de France – Augmented Reality (NBC/NBCSN)
  • Outstanding Studio Show in Spanish: Hoy en la Copa Mundial Femenina de la FIFA (Telemundo)
  • Outstanding Feature Story in Spanish: Golf Central: Dylan Reales: El Loco del Palo (GOLF Channel)
  • Outstanding On-Air Sports Personality in Spanish: Andrés Cantor (Telemundo)

A complete list of nominees is available at www.emmyonline.org.

NBC Sports PR

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
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