On March 29, 1987, Dale Earnhardt capitalized when a fuel-mileage gamble by Bill Elliott failed on the last lap of a race at Darlington Raceway.
Round two of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series takes place today with competitors racing at a virtual Texas Motor Speedway.
Denny Hamlin won last weekend’s race at a virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway, passing Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the last lap. The viewership of the race on FS1 set a record for an eSports event on TV.
More than 30 current and former Cup drivers are scheduled to take part in today’s race.
Here is the information on today’s virtual race:
(All times are Eastern)
DIGNITARIES: Troy Aikman will serve as the grand marshal. Bob Weir, founding member of the Grateful Dead, will perform the National Anthem.
PRERACE: Practice begins at noon. Qualifying begins at 12:50 p.m. Warmup begins at 12:54 p.m.
GREEN FLAG: Scheduled to wave at 1:13 p.m.
DISTANCE: The O’Reilly Auto Parts 125 is 125 laps (187.5 miles) around the virtual 1.5-mile oval.
TV/RADIO: FOX and FS1 will televise the virtual race. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. The race also can be seen on the Fox Sports App.
RULES: Since it is an exhibition race, drivers will get one full repair in case they are involved in any incidents. It is fixed setups on all the cars.
CUP DRIVERS SCHEDULED TO COMPETE: Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Ross Chastain, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Ty Dillon, Clint Bowyer, Chris Buescher, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, Tyler Reddick, Michael McDowell, Ryan Preece, John Hunter Nemechek, Kyle Larson, Bubba Wallace, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Garrett Smithley, Timmy Hill, Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell and Daniel Suarez.
ALSO RACING: Greg Biffle, Bobby Labonte, Parker Kligerman and Landon Cassill.
ADVANCING FROM QUALIFYING RACE: Alex Labbe, Anthony Alfredo, Ty Majeski and Ruben Garcia Jr.
STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying is at 12:50 p.m.
WHAT DRIVERS ARE SAYING:
CLINT BOWYER: “For me, iRacing gives me a chance to drive something Ive always wanted to drive, but never had the chance. Thats 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.
KYLE BUSCH: 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 Im hoping after maybe six weeks we can get back to the racetrack and do what we do each week and I wont really need to have one. So Im going on the borrowed train right now for my rig.
AUSTIN DILLON: “I learned a lot at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway last weekend. We were able to get up to the top 10 for a little while but it was a messy race for us. I’ve been practicing a lot for Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway and the setup seems better this week. I’m also looking forward to a bit of drafting this week. I hope these eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series races tide us over until we get to the real racetrack, because this is fun but I’m looking forward to get back to real racing!”
ERIK JONES: I honestly did not know how Id do in last weeks race at Homestead. It had been forever since I last went iRacing, so it was like I was a rookie all over again. But things came to me fairly quickly, although Im still nowhere near where I want to be. Performance aside, I think we all came away from that race impressed with how the entire industry rallied around it, and fans seemed to like it too. Now were on big FOX this Sunday, so even more people will be watching. Obviously, thats good, but it does kind of ramp up the pressure. You want to do well. Even though its a simulation, were all competitors and we want to win. And its appropriate that Ive got CRAFTSMAN on my Toyota Camry this Sunday at Texas. I moved into a new house this week and between putting furniture together, hanging stuff up and even fixing a few things that broke, if I wasnt carrying a box I was carrying a screwdriver or a wrench. iRacing practice time took a backseat to the move, so I hope my limited practice time doesnt show up in the race.
MICHAEL McDOWELL: “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, North Carolina 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.”
JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK: “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.”
TYLER REDDICK: “The virtual track races identical to what Texas Motor Speedway was before the traction compound was introduced, and creates those crazy runs into Turn 1 with the current Cup package. Figuring out how to manage the front tires and keep someone from getting inside going into Turn 1 will be key for this virtual race.”
DANIEL SUAREZ: I dont even know what to expect, to be honest. Obviously, I think were going to have some fun, but at the same time Im very competitive and I want to do well. Ive never done iRacing before, Ive never had an account before and I really didnt know much about iRacing. I had an old GT25 simulator that I bought used about 10 years ago to race on the PlayStation. As for iRacing, I have no experience before, but for me, thats not an excuse. Ive done a lot on other simulators, like the TRD (Toyota Racing Development) simulator, that might help some. But this is way different, its its own animal. iRacing is still very realistic and does an amazing job, but its still a game. The simulator we use at TRD, thats not a game, but a lot of things about what iRacing does is very impressive. I borrowed a rig from Toyota and hopefully I can use it for as many races as I need to.”