THE VIRTUAL HAMPTON, Georgia – On a day that was supposed to see 500 miles at Atlanta Motor Speedway, postponed earlier in the weekend by the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, the NASCAR world gathered around their internet-enabled devices on a different-kind-of-feeling Sunday afternoon to watch some virtual racing instead.
Live on Twitch.tv, on the Podium eSports twitch channel, 37 members of the iRacing community, including real world drivers and crew members, took to their computers, pulled out their electronic steering wheels, and started their virtual engines for 100 laps at the virtual speedway.
Joshua Williams, the spotter in real life for Team Penske’s No. 12 Ford, driven by Ryan Blaney, took his virtual No. 12 Ford to the front early and often, and went on to win The Replacements 100.
“It was tough,” Williams told James Pike and Podium eSports in the virtual victory lane on Sunday. “I was more setup-prepared to run the long run, so I was trying to take care of my stuff a little bit. We never really got long runs in the first half of the race, so you just had to defend pretty hard the first few laps until everybody got single file.
“I was worried with having to pit, and the restart stuff, if you lose the lead, it’s going to be pretty hard to pass again, so just tried to defend the lead, and once we got 10 or 15 laps on our tires, I was pretty comfortable with it.”
Williams held off William Byron, Steven Steffen, TJ Majors, and Parker Kligerman, the remainder of the Top 5, as well as the rest of the field for the victory on Sunday afternoon.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Alex Bowman, Bubba Wallace, and a handful of others joined in on the fun, and showed the NASCAR world, currently lamenting the fact of not having a real race today, what NASCAR eSports and eNASCAR is all about.
The #Replacements100 from @amsupdates goes to @joshTwilliams! Join @iRacing for more #eNASCAR action on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET when the @eNASCARCocaCola Series visits @HomesteadMiami.
— Podium eSports (@PodiumeSports) March 15, 2020
TJ Majors, spotter for Joey Logano, and Kevin Hamlin, spotter for Alex Bowman, together with Podium eSports and iRacing, were able to gather the field of drivers together in short time following the postponement of what was supposed to be Sunday’s QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
William Byron started on the pole, but Joshua Williams immediately went to the front of the field out of Turn 4 to lead the first lap.
In fact, Williams went on from there to lead every single lap of the race. Regardless, it was no easy victory, with the likes of Byron and Parker Kligerman putting the pressure on, and also, the field still put on a show for the fans.
Cautions bred cautions early on, with many big name NASCAR personalities such as Justin Allgaier, Ben Rhodes, and Chad Knaus finding trouble early and often.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. took a hard virtual lick early, but utilized his ‘fast repair’ correctly, and made his way back through the field to eventually finish in eighth.
Once the field settled down, the race started to get down to business in the second half. The final restart came on lap 52, and went green to the conclusion.
That was really fun! Sorry about my computer suddenly deciding it wanted windowed mode. Glad there was one reset to get back in the race. I’ll take P5 all things considered
— Parker Kligerman (@pkligerman) March 15, 2020
Kligerman was part of the second to last caution, as he suffered from ‘equipment malfunction’ while running in second. He worked his way back through the field and wound up finishing fifth.
As the field wound down the laps, it was evident that Williams wasn’t to be beat, as he continued to pull away from Byron.
Leading all 100 laps, Williams was victorious amongst the mix of professional and amateur racers.
There were six cautions for 24 laps during the event. Next week, the real life NASCAR Cup Series event at Homestead-Miami Speedway event has also been postponed.
Stay tuned for more NASCAR eSports coverage at The Racing Experts.
Congrats to @joshtwilliams on his #Replacements100 whooping today. Thanks to everyone who ran with us, everyone that busted tail to put it together in about 14 hours and especially @PodiumeSports and @iRacing for their support.
Hope you all enjoyed the race! pic.twitter.com/83ian5vDWH
— Kevin Hamlin (@KevinHamlin) March 15, 2020
- 12 – Joshua Williams
- 24 – William Byron Jr
- 1 – Steven Steffen
- 22 – TJ Majors
- 77 – Parker Kligerman
- 19 – Tyler Overstreet
- 51 – Garrett Smithley
- 88 – Dale Earnhardt Jr
- 23 – Bubba Wallace
- 59 – Coleman Pressley
- 98 – Chase Briscoe
- 63 – Bryan Boris Cook
- 11 – Justin Haley
- 25 – John Theodore
- 27 – Kevin Iannarelli
- 34 – KC Heschel
- 26 – Kyle Long3
- 8 – Anthony Pelican
- 69 – Tyler Truex
- 13 – Gary Sexton
- 21 – Anthony Alfredo
- 31 – Tim Duggar
- 14 – John Guidone
- 20 – Harrison Burton
- 93 – Myatt Snider
- 189 – Chad Knaus
- 99 – Ben Rhodes
- 87 – Matt Noyce
- 7 – Justin Allgaier
- 2 – Alex W Bowman
- 17 – Taylor Gray
- 6 – Jonathan Davis6
- 33 – Kevin Hamlin
- 30 – Tyler Ankrum
- 46 – Aly Osman
- 28 – Noah Gragson
- 85 – Judd Danielson
Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com