Jeff Gordon Nearly Flew Off The Track In His iRacing Debut At Talladega

Jeff Gordon made his iRacing debut at virtual Talladega on Sunday afternoon, but the retired NASCAR driver didn’t get off to the start he hoped. Gordon was the latest racing pro to try his hand at the video game version of America’s most popular stock car series, as the shutdown of the actual NASCAR circuit has put drivers in their homes giving virtual racing a go.

It was a cool moment in what’s been a growing event for the iRacing series, which has allowed drivers to distract fans from a bleak sports-less reality with some fun and plenty of controversy since the series began in mid-March. And Gordon got in on the fun with his paint scheme as well, an homage to an infamous win he had at Talladega in 2004 that literally re-wrote the NASCAR rulebook.

Gordon’s first pixelated event, however, quickly got into trouble at virtual Talladega Superspeedway. At one point, he nearly flew off the track and actually got his car stuck in the virtual catch fence.

The crash is one of the many joys of iRacing and why it works so well as a televised event. A crash this severe in real life would be harrowing and potentially dangerous for the drivers. As visually stunning as it is to see a high-powered stock car go airborne and see the physics at work, it could be deadly.

In iRacing, however, it’s actually kind of hilarious that Gordon found trouble at a track in which he had so much history. And though racers get a second chance after crashes — it’s not like there’s any need for a pit crew to try and salvage digitally wrecked cars — Gordon crashed twice on Sunday and saw himself get an early exit from the race. He really seemed to take it in stride, though, and like many drivers he enjoyed the virtual racing experience.

It’s tough out there on Talladega with no spotters. Even in the digital world.