The names that dominated the leaderboard during Sunday's second eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race were ones casual fans probably wouldn't recognize. Rather than names like Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney and Jimmie Johnson (all of whom were entered), it was Timmy Hill, John Hunter Nemecheck, and Garrett Smithley who settled into the top 10 at the virtual Texas Motor Speedway.
MBM Motorsports driver Hill took first place, moving into the lead position past William Byron with less than five laps to go. He was closely followed by Ryan Preece and Smithley, who finished in first and second place, respectively.
"It was such a fun race there," Hill said before driving his virtual victory donuts. "I had to do a little boot scootin' boogie here in Texas on Willy B, but I'm glad I pulled the victory off for RoofClaim, MBM, everybody back home."
Hill, who is not even ranked in Cup Series point standings, raced from his at-home setup behind a wheel he said he bought for 300 dollars 12 years ago, but being at home just meant he was closer to the kitchen to celebrate with a glass of milk after the race. The drink is his favorite, he told reporters.
The iRacing event went into overtime after two cautions were called with under 10 laps to go (five cautions total), but there were less major wrecks than last week's premiere event after drivers spent more time practicing on their simulator rigs.
Although the event was more competitive, it was still the guys with an iRacing background who led the field. Byron, who began his career on sim rigs, started on the pole and led the most laps. He finished in seventh place behind Eanrhardt Jr.
Last week's iRace winner Denny Hamlin finished in 24th.
"What we're going to be able to do this week is not only bring more about the race, but the personalities," FOX NASCAR broadcaster and former driver Jeff Gordon said. "That's the cool part about this. Not only is it Clint Bowyer on the regular FOX studio broadcast, but it's being able to see guys like Garrett Smithley, Ty Majeiski, as well as hopefully Dale Earnhardt Jr."
iRacing has provided a new stage for NASCAR's underdogs to shine on, but the virtual connectivity has also allowed a first-hand look into the world of top Cup Series drivers (even if they're not racing in the top 10).
Drivers such as Hamlin, Johnson and Earnhardt Jr. all live stream their in-race point-of-view on channels through Twitch and Periscope, which provides an unprecedented level of access for fans.