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2020 TReSports ePreview: Jim Beaver eSports

EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the fifteenth installment of the 2020 TReSports ePreview! The 2020 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series kicks off on February 11th, 2020, at the virtual Daytona International Speedway. The goal is to have a preview for each team out before that date.

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Jim Beaver eSports returns to the eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series in 2020, and Eric Smith and Michael Guariglia will be back along for the ride. Logos/Numbers from Jim Beaver eSports.

Returning for a second season in the eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series, Jim Beaver eSports and its owner, Jim Beaver, are ready to fight for the team championship in 2020.

Jim Beaver has his hands full in owning an eSports team that not only races in the eNASCAR side of things, but also in various other vehicles on the iRacing platform.

At the forefront, Beaver himself is an action sports racer, mainly racing off-road vehicles such as trophy trucks among other types of vehicles that he’s won in during his career.

If he’s not racing in the event, Beaver might be providing commentary or other insight for various off-road events strewn all over the map.

Host of the radio show, The Down & Dirty Radio Show, which airs live on the Sports Byline USA Radio Network, Beaver’s Action Motorsports Radio website is also the home for a handful of other racing related podcasts and shows.

The recipient of a business and marketing degree, Beaver is an entrepreneur, and has corporate sponsorships for all facets of his business.

So with all of that going on, as of July of last year, Beaver became an owner in the eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series, fielding a duo of Ford Mustangs on the virtual track since the 11th race last season.

Both of Beaver’s original drivers from the 2019 season will return to the team for 2020.

Michael Guariglia will once again pilot the No. 15 Ford Mustang, and this season, he will have sponsorship from Vision Wheel.

2019 was Guariglia’s rookie season, and in 18 starts, he collected two Top 10 finishes at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Coming back for the 2020 season after another stint in the iRacing Pro Series, Guariglia is committed to Beaver the same way he said Beaver was committed to him.

“The biggest thing for us was Jim’s commitment to us,” Guariglia said. “We both had to go back to the Pro Series.

“We ran cars for him as well. Once we made it back in, we almost had that instant commitment. He handpicked us, and it’s really cool to build on that for 2020 as well.”

The other part of the ‘us’ and ‘we’ that Guariglia referenced is Eric Smith, who will also return to Jim Beaver eSports, but with a new number, as well as a new sponsor, for the 2020 season.

Smith will be behind the wheel of the No. 9 Polaris RZR Ford Mustang, moving on from the No. 51 which he drove in the 2019 season.

2019 was also Smith’s rookie campaign in the eNiWCS, and in his 17 starts, Smith also collected two Top 10 finishes.

One of those Top 10’s ended up being a victory that was earned at Auto Club Speedway in only his third career eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series start.

Echoing Guariglia, Smith agreed that their relationship with Beaver was huge in returning to the team in 2020.

“(Jim) showed that he wanted to be in the series when he joined in the middle of the season,” Smith said.

“Because he came in and really wanted us to do well for him, and believed that we could do it, I think that made the free agency process a lot easier than what some of these guys were going through… It was always just that he was committed to us, and we liked that.”

2019 JIM BEAVER eSPORTS RECAP

It wasn’t until the 11th race in the 2019 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series that Jim Beaver eSports came into existence.

Before Guariglia and Smith were picked up for the Jim Beaver eSports rides, the two were competing as independent drivers, doing everything they could to separate themselves from the others in the case that another team were to join the series.

Jim Beaver eSports was the final new team in the series in 2019, making a grand total of 16 teams competing in the series on the year.

For Beaver, the duo of Guariglia and Smith stood out among the rest.

In Guariglia’s case, he was starting to find his groove. In the five races between and including Talladega Superspeedway and Chicagoland Speedway, Guariglia finished no worse than 21st, and even had collected a Top 10 finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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Eric Smith was victorious at Auto Club Speedway on March 12th, 2019, a few months before he was signed to Jim Beaver eSports. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Smith, meanwhile, became the first and only independent driver on the season to find victory lane with his nail-biting win at Auto Club Speedway.

For the new duo at Jim Beaver eSports, it was a tough second half of the season, not only for both drivers, but the whole team in general.

Smith and Guariglia each collected a Top 10 finish for the team in the final eight races of the season.

Smith’s Top 10 finish came at Darlington Raceway, while Guariglia’s Top 10 came the following event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

After the season concluded at Homestead-Miami Speedway, it was determined that both drivers would be heading to the iRacing Pro Series in an attempt to qualify back for the 2020 roster.

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Jim Beaver eSports drivers Michael Guariglia (15) and Eric Smith (51) at Michigan International Speedway on August 6th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

The 2019 iRacing Pro Series was no easy task to overcome, but both Guariglia and Smith were able to do just that.

In the seven race stint that started at Daytona International Speedway and ended at Homestead-Miami Speedway, both drivers had to go against 38 other drivers all trying to make the big show in 2020.

Smith started out the season with a third place finish, while Guariglia came home 12th. Both starting the season on the positive side of the cut line helped as the season progressed forward.

At Richmond Raceway and Dover International Speedway, Smith picked up a pair of ninth place finishes, and that essentially locked him into the Top 20 and in a position to advance.

Guariglia, on the other hand, was not having the same luck, yet he was still on the right side of things heading into the season finale.

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Jim Beaver eSports teammates Michael Guariglia (15) and Eric Smith (51) slide through the corner at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the iRacing Pro Series on November 19th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

At Homestead-Miami Speedway, Smith was easily in as soon as the race started. He wound up finishing 13th overall in the standings.

Guariglia, meanwhile, had the fight of his life, as an early incident forced him into a different strategy for the remainder of the race.

When it was all said and done, Guariglia ended up fighting back to finish tenth, and that was enough to lock in to the 2020 eNiWCS roster with a 19th place overall points finish.

Looking forward to the upcoming season, both drivers know what they want out of the 2020 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series.

“We want to be contenders,” Guariglia said. “We want to be up in that title fight.

“We want to win races,” Smith said.

“Exactly,” Guariglia said. “Basically, it’s just building up off of what we had. Just need to be making sure we stay consistent and building.”

“I have to understand that I always have to be learning from the past,” Smith said. “Learning from 2019, I saw a lot of things that I was doing not exactly the way they needed to be done… I was stressed.

“I’m just as good as any other driver in the series, if not better, and if I have the right stuff around me, I can get it done.”

***

The eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series season begins at Daytona International Speedway on February 11th, 2020. The race is expected to be streamed live on iRacing’s Twitch stream, with the start time usually at 9:00 pm ET.

Look for ePreview #16 soon!

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Justin Melillo View All

Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com

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