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10 Smithfield Nw Almirola

Stewart-Haas eSports North Wilkesboro Invitational advance


– Virtual North Wilkesboro Speedway marks the final race of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, as real racing returns May 17 with the Darlington 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at the real Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

– The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series was a multi-week series emulating the original 2020 NASCAR Cup Series schedule. With the sports world on hiatus due to the coronavirus, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series existed in place of actual NASCAR events. The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series was an exhibition esports series featuring a collection of past and present racecar drivers from the NASCAR Cup Series.

– The iRacing undercard event the day prior to Saturday’s headlining eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race is the Friday Night Thunder race at virtual Martinsville Speedway where drivers compete in virtual NASCAR Xfinity Series cars. The Thunder event complements the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Xfinity Series driver, Chase Briscoe, will compete in Friday Night Thunder.

– The livestream of Friday Night Thunder begins at 8 p.m. EDT on eNASCAR.com/live. Single-car qualifying begins at 8:05 p.m., which sets the lineup for four, 10-lap heat races. Six cars advance from each heat to the feature, with the final six spots in the 30-car field coming from the top-six finishers of a 15-lap consolation race, which takes place after the heat races and is comprised of drivers who have not yet qualified. The 125-lap feature race then follows.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang:

"I actually tested my Cup car at North Wilkesboro in 2011 or 2012 – somewhere in that timeframe. We ran our car around there because they had it cleaned up enough and were running some races there. I’ve never actually run a race at North Wilkesboro other than those few laps I ran on that particular day. Dale (Earnhardt) Jr., and iRacing, obviously, pushed to get that track scanned, and it looks just like North Wilkesboro. I think it’s a great move, and I look forward to running there in my Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang before we go back to real racing."

– This is Harvick’s fourth eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race.
– Harvick started 18th and finished 18th in the previous eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at Dover.
– Harvick’s best eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series finish is 12th, earned April 26 at Talladega.

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang:

"I have actually really enjoyed my short time in iRacing. I think it’s so cool to be able to virtually race somewhere we can’t in real life. We finished 10th at Dover by surviving, and I’m sure that will be the strategy this weekend. I think it will be a bit more of an even playing field now because the track is relatively new to everyone. The coolest thing about racing this weekend is that we surprised my wife, Janice, with a paint scheme that she colored a few weeks ago. We got bored and decided to color some fun paint schemes with the kids. Smithfield was kind enough to approve it and put it on the racecar to dedicate to Janice for Mother’s Day. If I win in this paint scheme, we might have to run it again on a real track."

– This is Almirola’s third eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race.
– Almirola started 27th and finished 10th in the previous eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at Dover. It is his best eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series result.

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Cummins #ThankATrucker Ford Mustang:

"How we used iRacing with our sport has been phenomenal. It gave us an opportunity to reach our fans and gave them some great entertainment. I’ve been entertained. I hope it shows. Jeff (Gordon) and I have been having a blast down there at the (FOX) studio calling these races. It has been a lot of fun, but it’s not much longer until we get back to real racing, and that’s what all of us want. I don’t know if you’ve noticed or paid attention, but the ones who are winning these iRaces are the ones that don’t have a family or a wife to answer to. So no, I don’t have much of a chance for success, but I’m still going to have fun in my Rush Truck Centers/Cummins Ford Mustang."

– This is Bowyer’s sixth eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race.
– Bowyer started 17th and finished 33rd in his last eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at Talladega.
– Bowyer’s best eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series finish is 11th, earned twice (March 29 at Texas and April 5 at Bristol).

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 41 Haas Tooling Ford Mustang:

"I’ve never been to North Wilkesboro before, but it’s cool how when you drive to Bristol that you can see the track right off the highway, and you can kind of think about what it used to be back in its heyday. It will be really interesting since there are only a handful of guys who have driven on the track, so there will be a lot of learning for everyone to get it figured out, that’s for sure. I’ll definitely spend a couple more hours to try and get an idea of what to do in my Haas Tooling Ford Mustang since I’ve never been there."

– This is Custer’s third eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race.
– Custer started 36th and finished 12th in the previous eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at Dover. It is his best eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series result.

— Stewart Haas Racing —