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Preview: eNASCAR Gander Outdoors 100 iRacing Pro Invitational

Ask any driver who finishes second, and they’ll tell you how the first-place car was just a bit faster than theirs. But what would happen if all the cars were truly equal? Would true driver skill shine above all?

We’ll find out the answer to the question Tuesday night when some of NASCAR’s brightest emerging talents — along with a few special guests — compete in the eNASCAR Gander Outdoors 100 iRacing Pro Invitational (3/19, 9 p.m. ET, eNASCAR.com) at iRacing’s virtual laser-scanned Martinsville Speedway.

Sure, there may be no grandfather clock on the line, and you’ll have to cook up your own hot dogs, but who doesn’t like a little bit of short track action in Gander Outdoors trucks at ‘The Paperclip’ — especially when you’re watching rising NASCAR stars compete in identical trucks, the most level playing field a computer could create?

The competitors chasing a whole pile of bragging rights:

 

So, of the 19 pro racers (well, 18 pro racers and a football player), who’s the favorite to bring home the glory? We’ll let some competitors’ tweets do the talking.

On paper, iRacing’s Oval iRating system — based on iRacing experience and race performance — ranks the top half-dozen drivers expected to perform the best:

  • Christopher Bell: 5712 iRating
  • Raphael Lessard: 3510 iRating
  • Will Rodgers (3191 iRating)
  • Derek Kraus: 3015 iRating
  • Kyle Long: 2226 iRating
  • Noah Gragson: 2207 iRating

But, really, any racer or fan knows what happens when you go into a race with any sort of expectation, and eSports racing is no exception to the rule. It’s anybody’s race, especially with no points on the line at the track that dubs itself “The Half-Mile of Mayhem.”

 

How to Watch

The eNASCAR Gander Outdoors 100 iRacing Pro Invitational takes place on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, at 9 p.m. ET, streaming via live broadcast on eNASCAR.com.

Open qualifying takes place at 9:05 p.m., and the green flag drops at 9:20 p.m. for 100 laps of action around Martinsville Speedway.

Plus, at the site of some of NASCAR’s famous most bump-and-run moves, expect some (virtual) fireworks.