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:
- Kyle Long (Chicago Bears Guard and eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series team owner)
- Parker Kligerman (NBC Sports Personality and NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series driver)
- Noah Gragson (NASCAR Xfinity Series)
- Christopher Bell (NASCAR Xfinity Series)
- John Hunter Nemechek (NASCAR Xfinity Series)
- Garrett Smithley (NASCAR Xfinity Series)
- Justin Haley (NASCAR Xfinity Series)
- Chase Briscoe (NASCAR Xfinity Series)
- Todd Gilliland (NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series)
- Austin Hill (NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series)
- Christian Eckes (NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series)
- Myatt Snider (NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series)
- Tyler Ankrum (NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series)
- Anthony Alfredo (NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series)
- Will Rodgers (NASCAR K&N Pro Series)
- Derek Kraus (NASCAR K&N Pro Series)
- Max McLaughlin (NASCAR K&N Pro Series)
- Ryan Vargas (NASCAR Next)
- Raphael Lessard (KBR Development Driver)
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.
i always tell myself that i wont let my competitive side have an impact on my life. here i am, at the wheel of an @iRacing rig determined to get back at my enemies with speed, precision, and determination. No matter what i do im gonna compete lol. see you in the winners circ;le
— Kyle Long (@Ky1eLong) March 23, 2018
you’re one of the few that say i’m a nice guy after a iracing race…
— Justin Haley (@Justin_Haley_) July 3, 2018
— Myatt Snider (@MyattSnider) March 16, 2018
For the Win! This @iRacing is a blast! Thanks to everyone that joined our session @MartinsvilleSwy The @Hattori_Racing guys and I are planning on doing this more often so be on the lookout!! #iracing pic.twitter.com/YTUuPAiiYz
— Austin Hill (@_AustinHill) March 15, 2019
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.