eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Power Rankings, Race 1: Thanks for the help, Dale
Have you heard? Your favorite NASCAR stars are racing this weekend. The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series kicks off Sunday (1:30 p.m. ET on FS1 and FOX Sports app), featuring dozens of NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series drivers competing for bragging rights at iRacing’s virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway. It’s gonna be a great time.
Longtime sim racer Dale Earnhardt Jr., who himself will compete Sunday, helped us out by sharing some practice lap times and his top five picks for Sunday that formed the basis for our Power Rankings. I’m saying he basically did half the work for us as an informal guest analyst, like a bad group project in school — thanks, Dale.
Brad K is an old-school sim racer. Or, maybe the more accurate description is a sim-racing hipster — playing all the older games before it was cool. We haven’t seen a whole lot of him on iRacing, but maybe it’s like riding a bike and some of those NASCAR Racing 2003 Season skills will translate to modern-day iRacing.
Clint Bowyer’s not only on the entry list for Sunday’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational race as a driver, he’s also an in-car analyst for the FS1 TV broadcast. The prospect of Clint Bowyer, of all people, multitasking ought to be something to watch.
On one hand, Kyle Busch isn’t a terribly experienced sim racer, Daytona USA notwithstanding. On the other hand, he’s Kyle Busch.
Ashley Allgaier posted an adorable video of daughter Harper racing with Dad on his simulator. Allgaier’s probably the only driver in the field who’s got a backup driver on deck ready to go.
You have to wonder if Ryan Preece petitioned the race directors to add a Modifieds class to Sunday’s race. It’s possible in iRacing, technically.
We haven’t seen what Bubba’s got up his sleeve for Sunday yet, but he introduced us to the delicious combination that is Goldfish and Coca-Cola, and for that we thank him. And rank him!
He may not have been the speediest in the first round of practice, but Chase Briscoe is a veteran of nearly 2,000 races on iRacing. He’s like the virtual Denny Hamlin.
Guido’s a sleeper. He’s got the fourth-highest iRating in Sunday’s field and has 77 race wins to his name in the virtual world. We haven’t seen how he stacks up against the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series field in practice yet, but he’s also had a lot more time to hit the home gym as of late.
When Anthony Alfredo’s not racing, he’s probably, well, racing. “Fast Pasta” owns a sim racing league and regularly streams his iRacing adventures. Expect him to feel in his element Sunday.
Homestead-Miami Speedway is sort of Kyle Larson’s place. Maybe Larson, a 57-race winner on iRacing, can add to his stats Sunday.
Don’t sleep on Garrett Smithley for a solid run Sunday. He showed respectable speed in practice and posted a solid seventh-place effort in last Sunday’s Replacements 100 — the third-highest-finishing driver behind William Byron (second) and Parker Kligerman (fifth).
Ross Chastain’s second-fastest practice lap Thursday was a little bit of a surprise. If he wins Sunday’s race, we’re gonna need to request a watermelon-smashing live stream from the living room of the Chastain home, which will probably require some tarps like it’s a Gallagher show.
The Cassills welcomed a new addition to the family recently, and Landon’s been driving like he’s on the way to the delivery room — he’s won his last three A-class iRacing events.
Don’t let his quiet demeanor fool you; Christopher Bell is really good at iRacing. He boasts the third-highest iRating in the field and has won 237 asphalt oval races. That’s not even including dirt.
iRating: 3815 (and 7683 on a second account)
One notable omission from Dale Jr.’s top-five list was himself, but that’s just because he’s a humble guy. We saw Junior — who won the first-ever eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series race back in 2010 — methodically pick his way through the Replacements 100 field last Sunday, and we expect him to manage tires better than most again this week.
Timmy Hill is one of two drivers in the field that have raced in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series — he’s got 54 starts to his name across four seasons. He’s quick, and he knows how to get the job done in iRacing.
If practice is worth anything, expect results from longtime sim racer Denny Hamlin. Hamlin put in the time logging practice laps for Sunday’s race, and even worked alongside his eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series driver Keegan Leahy analyzing data.
Three reasons to keep an eye on Parker Kligerman: First, PK posted the fastest time in Dale Jr.’s practice screenshot. Against the competition in the session, that’s an insane feat. Second, he’s got the most iRacing-on-TV experience out of anybody in the field, having raced in a couple of televised iRacing All-Star Race events last year. Third, he’s got eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series standouts Logan Clampitt and Ashton Crowder in his corner. Clampitt finished second in Tuesday night’s race, while Crowder won in Fontana last month.
iRating: 10,742 (and 10,706 on a second account)
Ty Majeski’s so good that he’s not only the highest-ranked player on iRacing, he’s also the second-highest-ranked player on a second account. Seriously. And he’s doing it all on a single-screen laptop that probably still has a floppy disk drive.
It’s almost like William Byron’s known for his humble beginnings racing on a computer or something. Weird. His second-place finish in the Replacements 100 showed he’s certainly got what it takes to get the job done Sunday, plus he was bad-fast in practice. If he’s Dale Jr.’s favorite to win, he’s ours, too.