NASCAR drivers, it’s time to dust off those sim rigs from last year.
On Tuesday, NASCAR, in conjunction with iRacing, announced the return of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series, once again to be broadcasted live on both of NASCAR’s broadcast partner networks on Wednesday nights during the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Originally created in response to the postponement of the 2020 NASCAR season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pro Invitational Series will continue to bridge the gap between real racing and simulated racing as race weekends become shorter without practice or qualifying for 28 of the 36 race weekends in 2021.
FOX Sports 1 will carry the first half of the season, with four of their five races fully announced on Tuesday, while NBC Sports will pick up the second half, with their dates and times to be announced at a later date.
The series will begin on Wednesday, March 24th, with a virtual first look at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt race. Talladega Superspeedway returns to the schedule with a date on April 21st, while Darlington Raceway and Circuit of the Americas will host virtual races on May 5th and May 19th, respectively. The venue for June 2nd on FOX Sports 1 is also to be determined.
“The success of our eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series was underscored by an industry-wide effort to entertain fans during the early months of the global pandemic,” said Tim Clark, NASCAR senior vice president and chief digital officer. “This year the Pro Invitational will return with a schedule of midweek races that will bridge the gap between our real-world races each weekend.”
The 2021 eNASCAR season is quickly approaching, with the Coca-Cola iRacing Series set to begin with “The Clash” at Daytona International Speedway on February 1st. The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series won’t feature any of the Cup Series drivers, like the Pro Invitational Series, but instead hosts an 18-race schedule made up of 40 of the best oval sim racers on the iRacing service. It is expected that, like last year’s iteration of the Pro Invitational Series, many of the Coca-Cola Series drivers will be asked to help guide the NASCAR Cup Series stars in their online racing careers.
“After last year’s Pro Invitational success, we’re proud that our partners at NASCAR, FOX, and the race teams view the series as an integral part of their marketing and fan engagement strategies for 2021,” said Steve Myers, iRacing executive producer. “It’s even more fulfilling that the industry has rallied around our platform not only as the most authentic re-creation of the sport, but also a terrific tool to help grow NASCAR’s audience and generate revenue to strengthen the entire ecosystem.”
2021 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series (First Five-Races / All Times ET)
Wednesday, March 24 | Bristol – Dirt | FS1 | 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 21 | Talladega | FS1 | 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 5 | Darlington | FS1 | 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 19 | COTA | FS1 | 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 2 | Track-TBD | FS1 | 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
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