Less than a week after a successful inaugural eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race, NASCAR, iRacing and FOX Sports announced Tuesday that subsequent races will be aired nationally on the FOX broadcast network (where available and subject to change), FS1 and the FOX Sports app, beginning with this Sunday’s race at the virtual Texas Motor Speedway at 1 p.m. ET.
FOX Sports will air the 100-lap race and has agreed to televise all the subsequent races while the NASCAR national series adhere to a break in on-track competition to align with CDC guidance regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Last week FS1 televised the opening race from virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway, which included a thrilling last lap duel between race winner Denny Hamlin and the sport’s perennial most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. The event drew nearly a million viewers (903,000), becoming the most watched telecast on FS1 since March 12, when most live sports were halted in response to the pandemic. It was also the highest rated esports TV program in history.
According to Twitter rankings, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational on FS1 was the most social TV program on Sunday with NASCAR-owned content about the event producing over one million engagements over the weekend.
"The rapid-fire collaboration between FOX Sports, NASCAR and iRacing obviously has resonated with race fans, gamers and television views across the country in a very positive way,” said Brad Zager, FOX Sports Executive Producer/EVP Head of Production & Operations. "We have learned so much in a relatively short period of time and we are excited to expand coverage of this brand new NASCAR esports series to an even wider audience.”
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NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon, who called Sunday’s virtual race alongside FOX Sports’ Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds, was equally as optimistic about the possibilities the televised iRacing presents.
"The response on social media to last Sunday’s race has been incredible,” Gordon said. "We were able to broadcast a virtual race that was exciting and entertaining. It brought a little bit of normalcy back to the weekend and I can’t wait to call the action Sunday at Texas.”
The races include competitors from all three of NASCAR’s national series from the premier NASCAR Cup Series to the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. Plus, last week, retired driver Earnhardt and NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Labonte, who finished 18th in the 35-car field.
"We’re overwhelmed by the positive feedback and encouragement sent by industry stakeholders, drivers, partners, media and most importantly, our fans,” said Tim Clark, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer.
"We all can’t wait to get back to racing and our partners at iRacing and FOX have worked with us to do just that – race. We are committed to running these eNASCAR iRacing events as long as necessary. Providing a platform for our fans to watch and engage with their favorite drivers is our number one priority."