Going Viral: Mike Joy Ready For First Virtual NASCAR National Broadcast Sunday

Like so much of everything across the United States, the COVID-19 global pandemic has brought the major sports to a standstill. 

While live sports of any type have been shuttered, NASCAR in conjunction with the wildly popular motorsports simulation company iRacing, will give fans a chance to cheer on many of their favorite drivers in a virtual form on Sunday. 

NASCAR’s premier level Cup Series had been scheduled to be competing at Homestead-Miami Speedway tomorrow. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic NASCAR announced earlier this week that 

NASCAR announced earlier this week that all NASCAR sanctioned events – from their three national series divisions to their regional touring divisions – have been postponed through May 3. This week NASCAR and iRacing came together to create the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. The series, which will feature some of NASCAR’s top talents, will kick off Sunday with the running of the Dixie Vodka 150 at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway. 

The event will be broadcast on FS1 and also the Fox Sports app and will feature Fox NASCAR broadcasters Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds calling the race, along with in-action commentary from Cup Series regular Clint Bowyer, who will be competing from a simulator in the Fox NASCAR studio in Charlotte. 

“It’s just amazing how the whole sport has jumped on board for this,” Mike Joy told RaceDayCT. “I think it’s a terrific opportunity for iRacing to get in front of a large bunch of fans and potential racers. And I think it’s a fun thing for the NASCAR community to do.”

Berlin native and former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece and Middletown native Joey Logano are two of a large group of NASCAR Cup Series regulars slated to compete in the race. Other well known NASCAR Cup Series regulars expected to compete include Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, Kyle Larson, Bubba Wallace, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Christopher Bell. Retired Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. is also part of the list of 32 drivers that have been announced to compete. 

“A lot of the drivers are dedicated sim racing, so the stars of this show are likely not to be Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott,” Joy said. “It’s going to be much lesser-known names like Ty Majeski, Garrett Smithley and Timmy Hill, all of whom are known names in NASCAR, but when it comes to iRacing these guys are stars, they’re winners.” 

NASCAR and iRacing have worked to bring as much of a true race feel to the broadcast as possible. That goes to even having Motor Racing Outreach president Billy Mauldin doing a pre-race invocation like at any other Cup Series event. 

Joy said the Fox broadcasting team did a rehearsal for the show Friday. 

“Back in the late 90’s, for Fox, we did Formula One and we took the world feed from Formula One from whatever country the event was at, and we’d broadcast the race from the [Los Angeles] studio,” Joy said. “So this will be very similar. The big difference is that in Formula One on site and of course there’s no pit reporter needed for this. But I think the feel of calling the race and following the flow of action is going to be very similar to what we had with Formula One. 

“Jeff [Gordon] and I are really looking forward to it. We’re there to have fun. Our approach is, let’s say the Charles River flooded Fenway Park and the Yankees and the Red Sox showed up at your local high school field to play. The telecast is going to be less about the field and the school and the athletes who regular play there, it’s going to be about the Yankees and the Red Sox. That’s the approach we’re taking. It’s a great opportunity for racers to have fun.” 

Comments

  1. I watched the IMSA iRacing event on YouTube today and you could totally forget it was a sim at times. Enjoyed it.

  2. Sim racing is an option and races on NBC Sports Gold is an option as well. Today I watched the NWMT blood bath at Wall and think I appreciated it more then when it was streamed the first time. Seeing Sapienza injured after the race was essentially over, Pitkat smoking to the finish line. Then knowing what came after for each of these guys. The fix I needed.

  3. Still can’t drink a virtual beer.

  4. Well, 32 bottles of rare and fine bourbons in the basement, and 11 bottles in process, should see me through.

    The rest of you can hoard TP, guns, ammo, etc. I’m happy for you.

    Folks, the next two weeks will be critical. Social distancing is our primary, if only, preventative measure.

    Don’t be an idiot. Don’t be petulant. Stop thinking you are invincible. Don’t think that this is an infringement of your liberties.

    Some cities are setting up massive triage centers in stadiums. This is serious.

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