‘It Was Fun to Do Some Kind of Racing’ as NASCAR on FOX Turned to iRacing

For those who participated in Sunday’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational, there were moments where it didn’t seem like the world was on pause due to a global pandemic, and there was a degree of charm to it.

A eclectic combination of 35 real life NASCAR drivers battled for 100 laps at a virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway and debriefed afterwards about what went right and what went wrong during the digital race won by Denny Hamlin.

This was often a showcase for underdog racers typically restrained by the limitations of their underfunded equipment. For example, Timmy Hill and Garrett Smithley spent most of the second half controlling the race from the front of the field.

Journeyman racer Landon Cassill rebounded from an early crash to finish 12th.

Meanwhile, the modern-day giants of the sport struggled, with Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch all finishing outside of the top-25.

There were the occasional moments of animosity, with some race car drivers forgetting that they were racing within the quarantined confines of their own homes, before ultimately conceding that the experience was a fun and righteous one.

Proceeds from the race went to medical professionals working tirelessly to treat those afflicted with the novel coronavirus that has temporarily changed life as we know it throughout much of the world.

A recap of the Dixie Vodka 150 can be found here, with additional thoughts from those who participated below:

Third-Place Finisher Timmy Hill

“It was a really fun race. The top five did an excellent job all day long. I want to say thank you to NASCAR and iRacing for putting on this show.

“Today was a lot of fun. I did the best I could saving my tires at the end. We finally had our longest run of the day, 20 laps to the end. Didn’t take tires there and got beat. … I hope we get to do something like this again. These guys did a fantastic job with putting this race on. A lot of drivers put in a lot of time practicing.”

Fourth-Place Finisher Chase Briscoe

“It was fun to get to do some type of racing, especially with the Cup guys and some others that I don’t get to race against a lot. Hopefully, it was a way for the fans to escape from everything that is going on and enjoy some good racing.”

Fifth-Place Finisher Garrett Smithley

“Wow, that was fun, that was a lot of fun. I hope you guys enjoyed that. Cool deal. Started pole, finished fifth, led some laps. It was a good day. … It was a good day for the sim racing community. Cool to have some fun on these uncertain times but making the best of it. Hopefully we can get to the real racetrack soon.”

Seventh-Place Finisher Ryan Preece

“My takeaways from today: iRacing is difficult. Easy to forget you’re on Live Video.”

Ninth-Place Finisher Ty Majeski

“That was fun! P9 in the iRacing Pro Invitational. Got wrecked a couple of times and lost track position, had fun coming back up through the field!”

10th-Place Finisher Erik Jones

“Enjoyed myself more than I thought I would … Hope we get to do it again.

13th-Place Finisher Parker Kligerman

“Just stayed out on two tires there. Probably should have pitted with Denny, probably could have raced for the win but we didn’t have any more resets after getting involved in two wrecks there, one at the front and one trying to come up through the pack.”

15th-Place Finisher Joey Logano

“I don’t play on the reg and I struggled a bit throughout the race, but overall that was fun!”

16th-Place Finisher Clint Bowyer

“Guys, I let you down. Heck, I let myself down. I let my fans down. I had sponsors in the stands, praying for a good showing, and I end up wrecking our Mobil 1 Ford Mustang and using both redos, as a matter of fact. I think the real takeaway is, obviously, I need a lot more practice. With everything going on in the country right now, I hope the fans were satisfied and I hope they got their minds off of things for a little bit. We will be back. I will be better and, I promise you, if you get on iRacing and get online, you’re gonna see these boys, probably tonight, battling it out again.”

17th-Place Finisher Ryan Truex

“Not the day I wanted for the boys back at the shop. We will go back home and get to work on the cars and (come) back stronger.”

18th-Place Finisher Bobby Labonte

“I didn’t use up all my credits for damage, so that was good. I hope it was awesome to watch. It was a lot of fun to do. We will get better at this, being this the first one. … That was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.”

25th-Place Finisher Brad Keselowski

“I had a lot of fun, wrecked a lot. Congrats to Denny Hamlin. Great race for him. Drove to the front and won it, which is pretty cool with new tires. I tried to pit for new tires and be on the same strategy and got wrecked but that’s part of it. Hope you guys enjoyed.”

27th-Place Finisher Austin Dillon

“I didn’t do very well. We got up to the top 10. … We got some work to do. I’m going to practice this week for the next one. Hopefully this ties us over until we get to the real race track because I’m ready to go really racing. Thank you guys for all following it.”

29th-Place Finisher Kyle Busch

“We obviously didn’t qualify very good, so we were kind of mired in the back. Guys were crashing and wrecking out and we were kind of moving our way up to the front. Restarted, I think 16th one time and was making up some positions and getting closer to the front and felt like we had a pretty good long-run speed that was going there, we were picking a couple of guys off and then a crash happened on the front stretch … nowhere to go.”

31st-Place Finisher Jimmie Johnson

“Not a great showing. I’m going to take all the responsibility. I’ve not spent a lot of time in iRacing or really racing at all on sims. So I’m learning my way through that. Lots of things to learn within the race. I didn’t even have a spotter, which seemed to be a problem a couple of times with wrecks, race format, just a lot of race details.”

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