You’ll still be able to watch racing featuring NASCAR drivers on Sunday. It’ll just be via a video game simulation.
Fox Sports 1 will broadcast a race on iRacing featuring numerous current and former NASCAR drivers on Sunday. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Erik Jones and others will be a part of the virtual field at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will take place in lieu of an actual race at Homestead that was previously scheduled for Sunday.
That Homestead race along with six others were postponed by NASCAR because of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in the United States. And with real NASCAR racing not happening through at least May 3, the time without racing (and any other sports) is a good chance to see if NASCAR’s virtual racing push has any steam.
“This is a unique opportunity to offer competitive and entertaining racing to our viewers as we all work through these challenging times together,” Fox Sports producer Brad Zager said in a statement. “We are following CDC guidelines to maintain a safe work environment, as the well-being of all those involved is paramount. We value our relationships across the NASCAR community and appreciate all of the effort that it took in bringing this project to life.”
According to Fox, the race will be broadcast almost like an actual race is. Mike Joy and Jeff Gordon will handle the broadcast and Bowyer will serve as an “in-race” analyst. He’ll be driving from a simulator hooked up to the iRacing platform from Fox’s Charlotte studio.
IRacing bills itself as the “premier motorsport racing simulation” and drivers of all skill levels can join the platform and race myriad types of cars at numerous tracks. While many drivers racing in Sunday’s race will have elaborate setups with multiple monitors and steering wheels set up to resemble an actual Cup Series car, average folks can race with a computer game pad.
William Byron, another driver who is set to participate in the 35-car race, got his racing start on iRacing before he moved to real cars and eventually got his NASCAR start with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series.
While it’s important to note that iRacing isn’t actually like real racing, it may be the closest type of simulation among American sports. Other sports league participants can’t come anywhere close to replicating their actual real-world experience. IRacing can at least claim to somewhat resemble the actual racing experience. And we’ll find out on Sunday in a sports-barren landscape if there’s a sizeable audience willing to watch high-level drivers race via a computer.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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