The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series will take a page from NASCAR history next weekend, racing on one of the simulation’s newest tracks — North Wilkesboro Speedway.
The .625-mile track in the North Carolina foothills debuts on the iRacing service on Saturday for the seventh and final race for the invitational sim series, the North Wilkesboro 160 (3 p.m. ET, FOX, FS1, FOX Sports App).
Meanwhile, Saturday Night Thunder will move to Friday and become Friday Night Thunder — and will compete at virtual Martinsville Speedway (eNASCAR.com/live).
Dale Earnhardt Jr. led a group of drivers and broadcasters who cleaned the track surface at North Wilkesboro Speedway last December, allowing iRacing to scan and map the historic venue. Earnhardt teased a screenshot rendering of virtual North Wilkesboro’s frontstretch and main grandstand April 14.
North Wilkesboro Speedway was part of NASCAR’s first Strictly Stock (now called the Cup Series) season in 1949. The venue last hosted NASCAR’s top division in 1996 with Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon prevailing in the final race.
Saturday’s event is the finale in the invitational series, which was created to fill the sports shutdown void during the height of the coronavirus outbreak. NASCAR officials announced last week that it aims to resume racing for its national series May 17, revealing a portion of a revised 2020 schedule that includes multiple races at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway in the coming weeks.
The race will be 160 laps with a projected final field of 28 drivers. Those competing getting one reset, manual cautions are prevalent and there will be a maximum of three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish, if needed. The top three finishers from Dover will start at the rear — that’s race winner William Byron (who isn’t competing this weekend), Christopher Bell and Timmy Hill. The top 10 qualifiers will be inverted to start the event. Green flag is set for 1:13 p.m. ET.
As for Friday’s event at Martinsville Speedway, it will be a chance for those who are not part of Saturday’s invitational to compete. The format is as follows: Single-car qualifying will be used to set the grid for four, 10-lap heat races that will determine 24 spots in the feature. Then, a 15-lap last-chance qualifier race will determine the final six spots in the feature for a total of 30 cars.
The feature will be 125 laps, and the order of the first 10 cars will be inverted before the green flag. There will be one reset, manual cautions and three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish.
Pro Invitational Series entry list
* subject to change
|8||Dale Earnhardt Jr||Invitation|
|19||Martin Truex Jr.||JGR|
|21||Jon Wood||Wood Bros.|
|34||Michael McDowell||Front Row|
|38||John Hunter Nemechek||Front Row|
|52||JJ Yeley||Rick Ware|
|53||Joey Gase||Rick Ware|
Friday Night Thunder
|Joe Graf Jr.||80|
|Joe Graf Jr.||80|