NASCAR Drivers to Continue Racing Amid Coronavirus Outbreak (Kind of)

NASCAR Cup Series drivers will race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, nearly as scheduled.

Except, it won’t be in Atlanta, GA. It will be at the virtual Atlanta Motor Speedway on the iRacing.com Motorsports Simulator.

iRacing is often dubbed the most realistic simulator in motorsports. Professional drivers use the simulator to real test setups and allow drivers to take practice laps on laser-measured, virtual versions of real race tracks with dynamic weather, realistic tire wear and damage. In layman’s terms, it’s a virtual recreation of actual racing. With concerns over the Coronavirus, NASCAR has postponed at least the next two races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

iRacing and Podium eSports announced the running of the Replacements 100, a 150-mile virtual race, spanning 100-laps. The race will take place on Sunday at 3 p.m. EST. It will feature virtual replicas of NASCAR Cup Series cars, created to race like an actual car on the physical Atlanta Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Cup Series drivers, William Bryon, Bubba Wallace, and Tucson’s Alex Bowman, are part of an all-star roster that also includes former driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., crew chiefs Chad Knaus and Kevin Hamlin, as well as former NFL Lineman, Kyle Long.

NASCAR Xfinity Series driver, Ryan Vargas is also coordinating an all-star cast for another iRacing exhibition on Thursday. Last year’s Phoenix Raceway semi-final weekend winner, Denny Hamlin, is entered in the race along with 2019 ARCA West Series runner-up and Notre Dame Prep Senior, Jagger Jones, and other pro drivers.

Since iRacing is a service that is accessible to anyone who pays the monthly subscription, Vargas’ race will be open to all iRacers and Average Joes of any kind to attempt to qualify for the feature event. Even you can have the chance to beat the real racers.

Along with these exhibitions that have seemly exploded on Twitter, Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern, reported that iRacing is working with NASCAR to create an eNASCAR race, featuring Cup Series drivers to help fill this nation-wide sports hiatus. NASCAR currently sanctions a championship series on iRacing and had their championship race broadcasted live on NBCSN last year.

It would be impossible to get every NBA player to grab a controller and play as themselves in NBA 2K against another team. Much less with their actually on-court characteristics and personalities on display in given situations. iRacing, though, could create a unique event. Drivers have the ability to simulate and change car setups, communicate with other drivers mid-race, and race on a virtual track that is laser-scanned to act like the real thing, weather, bumps, seams and all.