With NASCAR not returning until early May at the soonest, fans and drivers will have to find alternatives to get their racing excitement and pass the time. On Tuesday, NASCAR and iRacing.com joined forces to announce the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, a sim racing league consisting of real-life NASCAR Cup, Xfinity, and Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.
“Until we have cars back on track, the entire NASCAR community has aligned to provide our passionate fans with a unique, fun and competitive experience on race day,” NASCAR Vice President of Racing Development Ben Kennedy stated. “Our long-time partners at iRacing offer an incredible product and we are excited to see how many of our best drivers will stack up in the virtual domain of competitive racing.”
On Sunday, various NASCAR drivers including Cup regulars Alex Bowman and William Byron participated in the Replacements 100. With the real-life Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 scheduled for that day being postponed, the two and thirty-three others took to iRacing‘s version of Atlanta Motor Speedway. Sanctioned by Podium eSports, the race drew considerable attention as Ryan Blaney‘s spotter Josh Williams took the victory.
The Pro Invitational Series will serve as a substitute for the real-life Cup Series, following its schedule through the races that have been postponed. As such, the season opener will take place on Sunday 22 March at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where the Dixie Vodka 400 was to have taken place.
A full driver list has not been revealed, but six have already confirmed their entries: Christopher Bell, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Larson. All but Earnhardt currently race full time in the Cup Series, with Earnhardt currently overseeing Xfinity team JR Motorsports; the fifteen-time Cup Series Most Popular Driver also ran the Replacements 100, where he finished eighth.
NASCAR and iRacing have a close relationship. Besides many drivers using the simulator to train their driving skills, the two parties sanction the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series.