Preview: eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series at Talladega

Steve Luvender
·5 min read

The stars of the NASCAR Cup Series are pulling double-duty at Talladega Superspeedway this week — if you count Wednesday night‘s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series event from the virtual 2.66-mile superspeedway.

Here‘s everything you need to know about the second iRacing exhibition event airing live Apr. 21 at 7 pm. ET on FS1.

This year’s format

    • Qualifying: Two-lap, three-minute solo session

    • Race: 70-lap, 2 resets

  • Field Size: 40 cars, comprised of 36 NASCAR Cup Series drivers, a NASCAR.com fan vote winner and any past Pro Invitational winners, along with special guests Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer.

Entry list

Car No.

Team

Driver

0

StarCom Racing

Quin Houff

2

Team Penske

Brad Keselowski

3

Richard Childress Racing

Austin Dillon

4

Stewart-Haas Racing

Kevin Harvick

5

Hendrick Motorsports

Kyle Larson

6

Roush Fenway Racing

Ryan Newman

7

Spire Motorsports

Corey Lajoie

8

Richard Childress Racing

Tyler Reddick

9

Hendrick Motorsports

Chase Elliott

10

Stewart-Haas Racing

Aric Almirola

11

Joe Gibbs Racing

Denny Hamlin

12

Team Penske

Ryan Blaney

14

Stewart-Haas Racing

Chase Briscoe

15

Rick Ware Racing

James Davison

17

Roush Fenway Racing

Chris Buescher

18

Joe Gibbs Racing

Kyle Busch

19

Joe Gibbs Racing

Martin Truex Jr.

20

Joe Gibbs Racing

Christopher Bell

21

Wood Brothers Racing

Matt DiBenedetto

22

Team Penske

Joey Logano

23

23XI Racing

Bubba Wallace

24

Hendrick Motorsports

William Byron

28

Rick Ware Racing

Joey Gase

34

Front Row Motorsports

Michael McDowell

38

Front Row Motorsports

Anthony Alfredo

41

Stewart-Haas Racing

Cole Custer

42

Chip Ganassi Racing

Ross Chastain

43

Richard Petty Motorsports

Erik Jones

47

JTG Daugherty Racing

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

48

Hendrick Motorsports

Alex Bowman

51

Petty Ware Racing

Garrett Smithley

52

Rick Ware Racing

Josh Bilicki

77

Spire Motorsports

Justin Haley

78

Live Fast Racing

BJ McLeod

97

Trackhouse Racing

Daniel Suarez

88

Promoter’s Provisional

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

79

Promoter’s Provisional

Clint Bowyer

62

Promoter’s Provisional

Keelan Harvick

66

MBM Motorsports
Past winner Provisional

Timmy Hill

99

Fan Vote Winner

Jesse Iwuji

Last year‘s Pro Invitational Series race at Talladega

The 2020 iRacing Pro Invitational Series race was one of the most memorable races of last spring‘s seven-race season.

For starters, Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon made his iRacing debut — but it wasn‘t before long the driver-gone-broadcaster ended up in Talladega‘s virtual catch fence.

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Denny Hamlin was also (now famously) knocked out by a technical glitch of sorts.

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…which, by the way, has become one of our favorite GIFs. Thanks for that, Taylor.

Taylor Hamlin Turn Off Denny Computer Screen
Taylor Hamlin Turn Off Denny Computer Screen

Birthday boy and frequent mid-race tweeter Alex Bowman ended up bringing home the win, holding off Corey LaJoie in overtime.

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Last Pro Invitational Series race: Byron wins the Bristol Dirt Race

William Byron, the most decorated driver in the brief history of the Pro Invitational Series, picked up his fourth win last month in the 2021 season opener at the dirt version of Bristol Motor Speedway.

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What to expect and who to watch

They say just about anything can happen at Talladega, and that‘s no different in the sim-racing world. Alex Bowman wasn‘t considered a favorite to win last year‘s race — after all, his opening weeks of the series were spent, to our entertainment, in-race tweeting and blaming his dog for incidents — but he managed to prevail despite Brad Keselowski and John Hunter Nemechek leading the most laps.

Of course, we‘ve got our eyes on William Byron, who‘s an evergreen iRacing favorite, though Talladega‘s draft is known as the great equalizer.

Like each time the NASCAR Cup Series visits Talladega, there‘s a chance for an underdog story, too. Corey LaJoie finished runner-up at ‘Dega last year, just ahead of Ryan Preece and Garrett Smithley; Smithley also finished fourth at the Bristol Dirt iRacing race last month.

Be sure to keep an eye out for Daniel Suárez‘s special paint scheme, honoring 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Red Farmer.

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One more driver for the fans

Through a fan vote, fans selected one more guest entrant to round out the field: Jesse Iwuji will put on the virtual belts Wednesday to show his stuff against the Cup Series stars. Iwuji, who‘s also a U.S. Naval officer, competes in the Camping World Truck Series. He competed in last year’s Saturday Night Thunder exhibition event on iRacing, held the night before the Pro Invitational Series race with non-Cup Series drivers.

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Catch the live broadcast of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race from Talladega Superspeedway Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET on FS1, following NASCAR Race Hub.