With the real-world NASCAR season on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, professional drivers have turned to the virtual next-best thing — virtual racing.
The iRacing eNASCARSeries opened its doors to a new Pro Invitational Series, inviting real-world drivers to take part in the online sport, using the iRacing video game and also PC-powered race simulators all from their own homes. They're trading steering wheels, gearshifts and even neck plus head restraints for handheld controllers to see if they can bring their racing mastery to the video game world.
The virtual championship will follow the real-world schedule, which means this weekend drivers are headed to the virtual Talladega Superspeedway. Pro drivers taking part on Sunday are set to include NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr, along with two-time champion Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer.
A huge number of fans have been tuning into the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series, with almost one million race fans following the action live on Fox Sports' FS1 TV channel. With such figures, the new virtual racing series has become the most-viewed televised esports championship of all time.
When to watch the next iRacing eNASCAR Pro Invitation Series race:
The next round takes place this Sunday, April 26 from the virtual Talladega Superspeedway. It will be broadcast live from 13:00 ET, with repeats airing the same day at 17:00 ET and 23:30 ET.
Where to watch the next iRacing eNASCAR Pro Invitation Series race:
The race will be broadcast in the US across the Fox network, including Fox, FS1 and on the Fox Sports app. Highlights will be available afterwards on the Fox Sports YouTube channel
eNASCAR races are also being shown across the world, taking up the same broadcast slot that would normally be reserved for the real-world race. You can see a complete list of international broadcasters showing the race on the iRacing website.
Before the weekend, check out highlights of the last eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series race, from Richmond, below.
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