We’ve had four eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series races featuring most of the top names from the NASCAR Cup Series who jump into their simulators and give the fans some relief by having an actual live sporting event.
Best of all, the few sportsbooks still operating in Nevada with mobile phone wagering are booking it as well.
During those four virtual races at Homestead, Texas, Bristol and last week at Richmond, it was clear that two drivers stood tall among all the others and neither are big-name Cup drivers. Timmy Hill is the only driver with top-five finishes in all four races and William Byron has won the last two races.
Byron probably could have three wins already and has led a series-high 319 laps so far, including 94 of the 154 Sunday at virtual Richmond. Circa Sports opened Byron +195 and closed him at +168, showing that bettors have adapted to what’s going on in eNASCAR and found odds on one of the drivers below 2-1 still juicy.
By the way, Circa’s theoretical hold for that race was only 20 percent, which is unheard of for any book in the real Cup Series.
But Byron’s edge should be significantly reduced at the virtual Talladega Superspeedway which is 2.66-miles of high-banking asphalt that will be just as beastly as it is with the real cars in the Cup Series. The philosophy of the cars will be the same which means they’ll all be bunched up, sometimes four-wide, and no driver will be able to jump out front and stay there for most of the race as Byron has done the last two races.
It doesn’t mean Byron won’t win, but it does mean he should be able to fetch more attractive odds in the 5-1 range because of the tracks’ randomness of collecting any driver in “The Big One.”
It also means that some of the regular Cup drivers also come into play and become worth betting where some of their real-life skills at Talladega and the other Superspeedway at Daytona come into play more than what we’ve seen in the other four races. That means drivers like Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano are factors.
Ryan Preece also may be a nice play just because of his 10.5 average finish between two real Talladega Cup races. Ricky Stenhouse, Chase Elliott, and Aric Almirola all have recent wins at Talladega.
The correlation between a driver’s skill and how it translates to the virtual tracks should become most apparent on the road courses and the Superspeedways. It’s not all about the car, it’s about the driver and making the proper moves.
One driver I’ll be surely betting on this week is Dale Earnhardt Jr., not just because he’s a six-time winner in Cup Talladega races, but because he’s been virtual racing longer than any driver going on 20 years now. He’s got the best of both worlds and I’m looking for him to challenge for the win.
I vividly remember Junior in 2003 teaching new teammate Martin Truex Jr. how to run the draft at Talladega on a simulator, and the effect of those lessons helped Truex win three straight Xfinity Series races at Talladega from 2004-06. Earnhardt and Talladega just go together, even in the virtual world.