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Denny Hamlin wins first eNASCAR Pro Invitational race at virtual Homestead

By AMANDA VINCENT

Denny Hamlin won the first eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series event, the Dixie Vodka 150, at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway, on March 22 with a last-lap pass on Dale Earnhardt Jr. NASCAR plans to put on Pro Invitational Series races, following the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, until racing resumes. Racing, like other sports, is halted due to attempts to slow the spread of COVID-19, or the coronavirus.

“It’s always fun when you win, but regardless, I mean, it’s just — it was a great event,” Hamlin said. “For the community, the racing community, the NASCAR drivers to come together and put 20-something drivers on the race track with such short notice, everyone is buying up simulation rigs this week and last week getting ready for the event, and for it all to come together and have a great finish, I think it was definitely a success.”

Thirty-five drivers participated in the event, including 29 Cup Series regulars. According to NASCAR rules for the exhibition series, 35 drivers make up a full race field. All Cup drivers under that number are guaranteed race starting spots, and the remainder of the field is filled by NASCAR and Xfinity and Gander RV & Outdoors Truck series drivers, who earn the spots through a qualifying race.

Earnhardt finished second, 0.158 seconds behind Hamlin.

“I’ve raced him on here (iRacing) for two decades,” Earnhardt said. “I thought he’d be hard to beat. I was trying to get a good finish, trying to win the race and trying not to wreck anybody, so I think I probably gave Denny a little more room than I really wanted to, but I had to keep from crashing him or anybody else. We got together off of (turn) four. I thought I might have been able to get a photo finish at the line, but we got together in four, and I about wrecked, there. But it was a fun race. Denny Had better tires, and he was just really, really fast, but it was a good race.”

Timmy Hill, Chase Briscoe, and pole sitter Garrett Smithley rounded out the top-five.

While, in the real world, where there’s often a huge gap between the have-nots, in the virtual world in which races are occurring now, the gap seems to have closed. Hamlin estimated his iRacing setup cost somewhere in the $40,000 ballpark, while Hill competed with a basic steering wheel attached to a desk. It’s probably worth noting, though, that Hill is an accomplished iRacer with 673 wins.

“This low budget @iRacing setup was ranked No. 1 overall on ovals,” Hill (@TimmyHillRacing) tweeted. “You make it as expensive as you want it to be.”

Other top-10 finishers in the Dixie Vodka 150 included Cup Series regulars Alex Bowman, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Ryan Preece in sixth through eighth. Truck Series regular Ty Majeski finished ninth after leading all 20 laps of the qualifying race. Cup regular Erik Jones rounded out the top-10.

The yellow flag waved nine times in the 100-lap race. William Byron led a race-high 28 laps before winding up 34th. Smithly was the only other to lead over 20 laps, running up front for 24.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the Dixie Vodka 150 at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway (starting position in parenthesis, number after name and car number indicates laps completed):

  1. (9) Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota, 100.
  2. (5) Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Chevrolet, 100.
  3. (7) Timmy Hill, No. 66 Toyota, 100.
  4. (6) Chase Briscoe, No. 98 Ford, 100.
  5. (1) Garrett Smithley, No. 51 Chevrolet, 100.
  6. (12) Alex Bowman, No. 88 Chevrolet, 100.
  7. (18) Bubba Wallace, No. 43 Chevrolet, 100.
  8. (13) Ryan Preece, No. 37 Chevrolet, 100.
  9. (3) Ty Majeski, No. 45 Chevrolet, 100.
  10. (25) Erik Jones, No. 20 Toyota, 100.
  11. (16) Matt DiBenedetto, No. 21 Ford, 100.
  12. (10) Landon Cassill, No. 89 Chevrolet, 100.
  13. (8) Parker Kligerman, No. 77 Toyota, 100.
  14. (4) Ross Chastain, No. 6 Ford, 100.
  15. (19) Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford, 100.
  16. (11) Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Ford, 100.
  17. (23) Ryan Truex, No. 40 Chevrolet, 100.
  18. (29) Bobby Labonte, No. 19 Toyota, 100.
  19. (28) Ty Dillon, No. 13 Chevrolet, 100.
  20. (26) Justin Allgaier, No. 7 Chevrolet, 100.
  21. (33) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47 Chevrolet, 100.
  22. (15) Austin Cindric, No. 12 Ford, 100.
  23. (32) Michael McDowell, No. 34 Ford, 100.
  24. (20) Chase Elliott, No. 9 Chevrolet, 100.
  25. (30) Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford, 100.
  26. (27) Christopher Bell, No. 95 Toyota, 100.
  27. (24) Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet, 100.
  28. (21) Chris Buescher, No. 17 Ford, 99.
  29. (34) Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, 94.
  30. (22) John Hunter Nemechek, No. 38 Ford, 93.
  31. (35) Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, 93.
  32. (17) Anthony Alfredo, No. 33 Chevrolet, 86.
  33. (14) Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet, 86.
  34. (2) William Byron, No. 24 Chevrolet, 79.
  35. (31) Kurt Busch, No. 1 Chevrolet, 46.

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Posted by on March 27, 2020. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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