NASCAR goes virtual

Collin Koch, Reporter

The NASCAR community was treated to some racing action over the weekend as drivers from the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, Xfinity Series, and the Cup series all joined together for the iRacing Pro Invitational Series on March 22.

With the real-life NASCAR races postponed due to the Coronavirus, that is affecting the nation and world rapidly, racing fans haven’t had much to watch and enjoy some racing action.

Fortunately, NASCAR and iRacing have joined forces and worked together to host a televised virtual race that premiered on Fox Sports one for racing and sporting fans across the nation to enjoy.

Amy Earnhardt, the wife of Dale Earnhardt Jr, tweeted, “It’s so cool that @NASCAR and @iRacing have come together for their fans[.] No other sport has this option […]”

The event hosted 30 professional drivers and also showcased young drivers’ skills, some of who have raced with iRacing while also racing in reality. Veteran racers, like Dale Earnhardt Jr and Bobby Labonte, also competed in the virtual race.

The race was 100 laps, but had a handful of cautions as 7x NASCAR Cup series champion Jimmy Johnson had trouble throughout the race. 2019 NASCAR champion Kyle Bush got into wrecks as well. 

The race’s last laps were an intense battle between Dale Earnhardt Jr and Timmy Hill, but that was until the winner of the race Denny Hamlin, (11) a driver for FedEx Toyota Camry, came from behind and stormed past the two.

Hamlin announced on Twitter that every lap that he led, he would donate $100 to the NASCAR Foundation to help feed children in the Homestead-Miami area. He also pledged that if he won the would donate $5000 to the same foundation. Kevin Harvick, NASCAR Cup Series driver, would match Hamlin’s pledge and would donate $6400 dollars to the NASCAR Foundation since Hamlin won and led 14 laps in the virtual race.

It is unknown if this was just only going to be a one-race deal or continue to do virtual races until it is safe to race.