Nothing Simulated About Ryan Preece’s Drive To Win In Inaugural NASCAR iRacing Event Sunday

Ryan Preece (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

After the conclusion of his rookie season on the NASCAR Cup Series in 2019, Berlin native and former Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece decided to make an investment for both preparation and fun in buying a top-notch iRacing simulator rig. 

Preece purchased a WR1 Sim Chassis, which among the ranks of iRacing competitors is considered one of the top of the line simulator rigs available. 

And while he expected the rig would come in handy for race preparation and maybe allow for some competition on the side, he never expected it would become a direct part of racing professionally. 

That all changed this week for Preece. 

With all live NASCAR events on hold through early May because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, NASCAR announced earlier this week that racing will go on in a virtual format. NASCAR in conjunction with the wildly popular motorsports simulation company iRacing, created 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. NASCAR’s Cup Series had been scheduled to run at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday before events were postponed. 

Preece is one of many Cup Series regulars who will compete in Sunday’s virtual event, which will be broadcast live on FS1 and through the Fox Sports App. 

“It’s pretty cool that we can do this,” Preece told RaceDayCT. “It’s not like an NBA player or a football player or a baseball player can jump on a simulator or a game and really have the opportunity to do what we’re doing. This is as close as you’re going to get to what we do every weekend without actually doing it. It’s pretty cool. I’m excited about it. I’m excited that we’re going to be able to have our brands. Tide Pods is our main sponsor for this weekend. And [JTG Daugherty Racing teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr.] is going to have Kroger on his car. It’s a good opportunity to keep it all going and to have some fun while we’re doing it.” 

The event 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. 

The lineup for the event will include well known NASCAR Cup Series regulars such as 2018 Cup Series champion and Middletown native Joey Logano along with 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. 

“I’m competitive and I want to run very well,” Preece said. “But at the same time it’s a good opportunity for our sponsors to get on TV still. With the way everything is right now and everybody is stuck at home trying to get through this all, it gives some entertainment and allows us all to be competitive and race and have fun.” 

As a teenager Preece was was involved deeply in the early days of simulation racing, but stepped away from it when his real life exploits took on a bigger focus. 

“I used to do this a long long time ago,” Preece said of his experience in simulator racing. “Not with the type of rig I have now. But I had a $300 or $400 dollar wheel and when I got out of school I would get on the internet and race online. This was before iRacing came out and even when iRacing did come out I was one of the original people that was on it. And it was awesome, but it became to a point where obviously with my racing career it was tough to balance both. So to me if you’re not going to commit to something 100 percent and I didn’t do it much any more.” 

And that attitude of committing 100 percent to being successful has immediately kicked in for Preece in preparation for events coming up with the simulation series. 

“I’ve been in practice sessions pretty much every night this week putting in the biggest effort I can put forward,” Preece said. 

For Sunday’s event many are looking Ty Majeski, Garrett Smithley, Timmy Hill and Cup Series regular William Byron as favorites. All four are known in iRacing circles for their success on the platform. 

“Ty Majeski is somebody where you look at his win percentage when it comes to iRacing and you know he’s going to be really good,” Preece said. “William Byron is another one that I know he’s really good on iRacing. Those are two guys that I think you know you’re going to have to beat to win. And Timmy Hill and Garrett Smithley, they do this a lot. … But it’s not like one of them guys is going to run away with it. From first to 30th right now is within three-tenths of a second. A lot of it is going to come down to attrition. With a setup that’s fixed it’s not like we can all start adjusting our cars and make them better. We all have the same setup so there’s only so many things we can do to make ourselves faster.” 

Comments

  1. I’ve pretty sure this isn’t the audience for sim racing in any form even this. However it is competition, success is based on decisions and hand/eye coordination so the racing is real.
    We need a distraction from the information overload that is in the news every day. It starts out with people behind the curve not appreciating what the threat is then progresses to most everyone getting the message and behaving responsibly then ends up with obsession and a complete freak out. By now most are informed, are taking the recommended precautions and doing all they can do. Fixating on the steady stream of news that has more unproductive finger pointing and conflicting reports produces more anxiety then usable information.
    Right now people searching for some kind of sports related content that don’t know sim racing exists and are tuning into FX to see this race. It appears what is bad for all of us is a boon for sim racing. And our man Ryan is part of it so how could that not be interesting?

  2. Reviews are in and they are quite good. Graphics were outstanding.
    A suggestion NASCAR if this is going to be a thing. Yes they may be at different locations and some in their rumpus rooms but flannel shirts and a baseball cap looks sloppy. Sharpen the boys up.
    8th place for our man Preece. Ok you’re not on board yet RaceDayCT nation but keep an open mind.
    This may become our racing fix for a bit and it’s really pretty cool.

  3. I have played IRacing. it is quite fun and people take it very serious. I haven’t played in a few years now but I was thinking of getting back into it now that they have dirt racing.

    I watched the race this afternoon and found it to be one of the best Nascar cup races I have seen in quite some time. Everyone just seemed to be having fun out there. Only complaint was there was too many yellows. But the cautions didn’t seem to take too long before they got back to green. It was nice to see all the drivers in truly equal equipment, fixed setup and see who is the best driver or perhaps has the most iracing experience. Personally I will tune in again if they hold another sim race next Sunday. There isn’t any other sports on.

    After the sim race fox showed a 80’s nascar race from the old Richmond fairgrounds with Earnhardt and Waltrip battling for the win which was great. Both the sim race and the Fairgrounds race was packed with fans unlike most Nascar events in recent years. the cars looks like street legal cars. In my opinion todays broadcasts were far more entertaining than any cup race I have seen in the last few seasons.

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