Sports

NASCAR’s iRacing Series Went To Texas Where They Had Another Thrilling Finish

NASCAR, like every other major sports league, is currently on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but unlike other leagues, they have the unique opportunity to continue putting on events virtually thanks to iRacing.

Many drivers have an iRacing setup at their house to practice on, because it allows you to test various packages and get a feel for tracks thanks to the realistic mapping done on each track on the NASCAR circuit. With races on hold, NASCAR recognized an opportunity to put on virtual races, with Fox Sports 1 broadcasting them as they would a normal event with Mike Joy, Jeff Gordon, and their crew broadcasting from a Charlotte studio — safely apart and practicing social distancing. The races bring stars like Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin and more out, but also present an opportunity for drivers on smaller teams and in smaller series to compete on a level playing field with the best.

On Sunday, we saw Timmy Hill take full advantage of that as he raced his way to a win at Texas Motor Speedway in the second virtual race of the season, edging out Ryan Preece on the final lap in a thrilling green-white-checker finish to get the win.

Through two weeks, the iRacing events have been a hit with fans, as they have provided great entertainment and, in all honesty, have been arguably as fun if not more fun to watch on TV than most normal events. That all the cars run the same equipment helps keep the fields together (without needing restrictor plates) and as such there’s tension and battling throughout the field. The 125 lap races keep things moving and races tend to last about 90 minutes, which can be preferable to some of the marathon races on the regular NASCAR calendar for TV viewing.

Beyond that, the racing itself is more entertaining because the drivers, while treating it seriously, also take far more chances because they aren’t worried if they wreck. They aren’t worried about their safety, the cost of wrecking a car, or losing critical points from a season-long perspective and the result is an awful lot of rubbin’ and racin’.

There was even a black flag late in the race for Daniel Suarez after he tried (and failed spectacularly) to intentionally wreck Ty Dillon on the back stretch.

If this happened in real life, we’d have to have serious discussions about the danger this could have caused both drivers, but instead we can just laugh at the ridiculousness of it. Wrecks are always part of the allure of NASCAR, because it’s part of what raises the stakes in races, but in virtual racing they are pure entertainment rather than cringe-worthy moments where you feel dirty for being entertained because there’s an actual person in that car that could suffer serious injury.

They even have in-car cameras in the virtual racing that let you go along for the ride when the cars start spinning.

Sunday’s race was, once again, an awful lot of fun to watch and if you’re looking for something to watch on Sundays, it’s hard not to enjoy the iRacing broadcasts FS1 is putting on each week. Next week, they’ll be short track racing at Bristol, which ought to be even wilder.

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