Denny Hamlin comes from behind to beat Dale Earnhardt Jr. in virtual NASCAR race
The race took place at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway track
The outbreak of the coronavirus has either suspended or postponed the majority of professional sports. On Sunday, NASCAR held a virtual race at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway track in which Denny Hamlin took a late lead over Dale Earnhardt Jr. to come away with the win.
Earnhardt was leading on the last lap and running on the inside, but Hamlin made his move on the outside to record the narrow victory. The race was broadcasted on FS1.
The race was an effort to give fans something to watch in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak that has halted the sports world. Hamlin was actually driving barefoot while Earnhardt only had one hand on the steering wheel.
"I like feeling the pedals," Hamlin said on a conference call following the race. "With shoes, I can't do it, so I always go barefoot."
The virtual race was the first of its kind since the coronavirus outbreak began. Seven NASCAR races have been postponed up to this point, which led to the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series forming. Sunday's race was an exhibition race at Homestead, which is where NASCAR would've held their weekly race on Sunday if the actual event wouldn't have been postponed.
Many of the drivers have simple simulators set up in their homes with moving seats and roll cages. The race was 100 laps in length with 35 NASCAR drivers participating, including Kyle Bush, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, and Joey Logano.
Hamlin and Earnhardt are two racers that have a ton of experience when it comes to iRacing. This was Hamlin's 164th start and 31st iRacing victory.
"He's really, really good," Earnhardt told FS1 following the race. "I've raced him on here for two decades. I thought he would be hard to beat."
Hamlin and Earnhardt both were going hard for the win even on the final lap of the race.
"I was trying to get a good finish, I was trying to win the race, and I was trying not to wreck anybody," Earnhardt added. "So I think I probably gave him a little more room than I really wanted to, but I had to keep from crashing him or anybody else."
While it obviously wasn't the same as the real thing, it gave NASCAR fans something fun to distract themselves from what is going on in the world. It also didn't hurt that fans were treated to an extremely entertaining finish.
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