For William Byron, it doesn’t matter if it’s on the virtual race track or real-life asphalt. Driving etiquette shouldn’t change.
After heartbreak for Byron last week at virtual Texas Motor Speedway where Timmy Hill shoved him out of the lead in the closing laps for the victory, the driver of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet won Sunday’s third eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at virtual Bristol Motor Speedway.
Byron felt like Hill set the tone for how they race each other on iRacing moving forward, also learning a thing or two about how aggressive he needs to be in order to stay up front.
“Last week, obviously getting moved out of the way I learned something there,” Byron said. “I applied that toward this week and got a little bit more aggressive with some of my moves during the week. Try to do that back to the guys so I can kind of establish position on them. That stuff is the same.
“It’s for fun. I get that part of it. But for me, I try to treat it like a race while the race is going on. During the week, I wasn’t worried about Texas. I got over it pretty quick. It was just frustrating because we hadn’t closed one yet and we’ve led the most laps, so to finally close the deal this week was really awesome.”
But while one guy left his simulation rig happy after Bristol, 31 other drivers weren’t feeling the same way, especially during the race as multiple wrecks unfolded in the back half of the field throughout the race. That frustration boiled over on a few occasions, most notably following an incident with Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez.
Around the midway point of Sunday’s 150-lap event at the half-mile concrete oval, contact between Larson and Suarez on the backstretch led to a crash between the two NASCAR Cup Series drivers on the frontstretch the same lap. Once both cars started rolling again, Larson caught up to Suarez and intentionally wrecked the No. 96 Toyota under caution. Both drivers were removed from the session by iRacing officials for the incident.
I was waiting for @iRacing to get him disqualified like i was last weekend in 5 seconds, but they never did… and by the way our “racing incident” was him pushing me to the apron… if this was real life my amigo would get his but kicked 🍑🤷🏻♂️ https://t.co/2Lyj7Xf53j
— Daniel Suárez (@Daniel_SuarezG) April 5, 2020
Suarez was also parked last week at Texas when he intentionally wrecked Ty Dillon.
For Byron, although he is well aware this is just a simulation in a time where both drivers and fans alike are desperate to fill the void of no real-life on-track activity, that’s still no reason to not take it seriously.
“I think the easy excuse is that this is a game,” Byron said. “At the end of the day, everyone is racing and seeing how much time some guys have put in, I know it means something to them. It’s race craft. Race craft is the same no matter what you’re racing, whether it’s on the computer or at a dirt track or at an asphalt race, it’s the same.”
The well-documented iRacing ace isn’t going to change his driving etiquette just because it lacks any real-life implications. In fact, if you want to be successful virtually, it’s in your best interest to keep the car clean and giving your competition respect.
“Racing on there is the same, but it really comes down to how you value how you race others,” Byron said. “I race others the same way I would in the real car. That’s kind of what it takes to be good on there.”