With cars kept off the track due to global Coronavirus outbreak, North American stock car series Nascar has launched a new esports competition – the eNascar iRacing Pro Invitational Series.
The competitive gaming series will feature a number of drivers from across the Nascar Cup Series, Nascar Xfinity Series, Nascar Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, and a group of Nascar dignitaries. Drivers confirmed to take part so far include Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell.
The esports event will get underway on March 22 on the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway. Further race and broadcast details will be announced at a later date. It will also use the premier motorsports simulation platform, which has been used by Nascar drivers to prepare for races.
The eNascar iSeries will be broadcast LIVE on FOX Sports.
“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,” said Ben Kennedy, Nascar’s vice president of racing development.
“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.”
Nascar had already held a one-off simulation event last weekend after a race at Atlanta Motor Speedway was postponed.
Nascar till March 17 has suspended all races till May 3. The race as of now was expected to return in Martinsville, Virginia for the May 8 and 9 schedule. The series still intends to hold all 36 races this season, with future rescheduling still to be determined.
Meanwhile, FOX Sports, teaming with NASCAR and iRacing, will deliver the first-ever eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series event on Sunday, March 22.
Titled FOX NASCAR iRACING, the 90-minute, simulation-style eSports program includes a cross-section of competitors from the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and a group of NASCAR dignitaries.
FOX NASCAR broadcasters Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds call the action from the iRacing virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“This is a unique opportunity to offer competitive and entertaining racing to our viewers as we all work through these challenging times together,” said Brad Zager, FOX Sports Executive Producer, EVP/Head of Production & Operations. “We are following CDC guidelines to maintain a safe work environment, as the well-being of all those involved is paramount. We value our relationships across the NASCAR community and appreciate all of the effort that it took in bringing this project to life.”
NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Jr. and NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Bobby Labonte headline a high-powered lineup, including two-time and defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski, 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano, three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin, 2016 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year Chase Elliott, 2008 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Clint Bowyer, 2014 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year Kyle Larson and 2017 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series champion Christopher Bell.
Additional NASCAR Cup Series drivers* competing on Sunday include Bubba Wallace, Chris Buescher, William Byron, Matt DiBenedetto, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Timmy Hill, Michael McDowell, John Hunter Nemechek, Ryan Preece, Garrett Smithley, Erik Jones, Ross Chastain, Parker Kligerman, Landon Cassill and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. A full 35-car lineup, including racers from the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, will be announced Sunday.
Bowyer, who expanded his role with FOX Sports earlier this year, serves as the in-car analyst, competing in an iRacing simulator in the FOX NASCAR Charlotte studio.