NASCAR virtual racing winding down

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The final scheduled race of the impromptu eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series is scheduled for Sunday at virtual Dover International Speedway. But it’s likely to be extended at least one more race until the NASCAR Cup Series picks up real racing again with a date of May 17 being targeted.

The May 17 weekend was originally scheduled to be All-Star weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a non-points race. But if NASCAR decides to go through with real racing on that weekend, it’s likely to be make-up a lost date at Texas Motor Speedway, a state where Gov. Greg Abbott has already told NASCAR they’re welcome to come. No fans in the stands, but real cars and real racing.

See “Earnhardt Jr. loves Talladega, real or virtual”

The iRacing races have been fun, especially with odds placed on them by the sportsbooks. But I think we’re all ready for the real stuff in whatever form NASCAR and the states deem proper.

The following Cup race would be at Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend, which got the green light Tuesday. And then there’s Kansas on May 31 and then Michigan on June 7 which could be a problem given the tight policies on public gatherings in that state.

NASCAR has to be creative in how they schedule their comeback, which will likely have to also change or eliminate the Sonoma date as California state officials have suggested no live sporting events or concerts through 2020.

NASCAR shouldn’t have to bang their heads too much on coming up with a schedule because they’ve kind of already laid the groundwork with creativity and time shaping by already scheduling two races in one weekend at Pocono (June 27-28). In regards to Michigan having to possibly be rescheduled, they could do a doubleheader on Michigan’s second date August 9-10.

NASCAR also has two extra weeks to add on that they were taking off during NBC’s Olympic coverage (July 26, August 2). Perhaps this would be a good spot to replace dates lost at tracks like Homestead-Miami and Atlanta which had only one date on the season.

As for the other dates lost at tracks with two dates, only Dover doesn’t have their second race during the Playoffs, which creates a dilemma for Richmond, Martinsville, Bristol, and Talladega. But NASCAR has some sharp people running the show and they’ll figure it out.

In some other NASCAR Cup news, Chip Ganassi Racing has hired 2003 Cup Champion Matt Kenseth to drive No. 42 driven by former driver Kyle Larson. Kenseth turned 49 in March but might be in the best shape of his life as his retired hobbies include running marathons. Kenseth last raced in 2018 and won 39 races over 21 seasons. It’s quite a grab for Ganassi, and Kenseth’s new teammate will be Las Vegan Kurt Busch who came into the Cup Series together as Roush Racing teammates.

As for Sunday’s iRacing event at Dover, expect much of the same from four of the previous five races where William Byron and Timmy Hill have dominated. Things got shuffled around last week at Talladega as expected because of the volatility of the track, but Dover’s high-banked 1-mile concrete layout will give us something similar to what we saw at Bristol, which is the track I compare Dover with the most in the Cup series.

At the Bristol eNASCAR race on April 5, Byron led 116 of the 150 laps, John Hunter Nemechek finished second and Hill finished third.

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