With the Coronavirus hindering the status of NASCAR, the organization proceeded to set up an iRacing event with a multitude of NASCAR drivers from various series to compete.
Denny Hamlin ended up victorious after a wild finish at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“It’s always fun when you win, but regardless, I mean, it’s just–it was a great event,” Hamlin said. “For the community, the racing community, the NASCAR drivers to come together and put 20-something drivers on the racetrack with such short notice, everyone is buying up simulation rigs this week and last week getting ready for the event, and for it all to come together and have a great finish, I think it was definitely a success.”
Garrett Smithley started on the pole, with William Byron on his outside.
Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon would have technical issues at the start, putting them a lap down. Jimmie Johnson would also miss the start, putting him multiple laps down.
As the green flag waved, Smithley and Byron would duke it out within the opening laps. Smithley’s lead would be short lived as Byron would take the top spot.
A crash off of Turn 4 would bring out the yellow when Austin Cindric’s No. 12 would get loose off of Turn 4, collecting Anthony Alfredo and Kurt Busch.
Byron would continue to lead on the restart, but the battle for fourth would heat up between Parker Kligerman, Ty Majeski, and Ross Chastain. Majeski would fall backwards while Kligerman and Chastain would march their way towards the Top 5.
Another yellow would fly when Justin Allgaier would slide in front of John Hunter Nemechek, causing a big crash on the frontstretch involving Johnson, Kurt Busch, and Ty Dillon.
Pit stops would begin, and Hamlin would be ahead of the field due to a two tire stop.
The No. 11 would lead on the restart, but as they approached Turn 3, they caught Johnson’s damaged No. 48. The Ally Bank Chevy would get stuck into the middle and would get out of shape. Johnson would spin in front of the field, creating a big pileup off of Turn 4, collecting drivers like Landon Cassill, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Truex, Ryan Preece, and Timmy Hill.
Hamlin would continue to lead, but the green flag run would be short lived as Chastain and Byron would collide into Turn 1 fighting for the second spot. Both would be able to save it, but a stack-up would occur behind them as Matt DiBenedetto and Chris Buescher would make contact, sending them into Chastain’s path.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. would have his share of the lead as he would lead on the next restart. Alfredo and Alex Bowman would put their names to the front, as well as Chase Elliott and Bubba Wallace within the Top 5.
Kurt Busch would continue to find troubles as his No. 1 Chevy would crash off of Turn 2. It would set up another big wreck as Chase Briscoe and Allgaier would be swept up in the carnage.
Byron would then be the leader on the restart, but Hill brought along pressure as he would challenge the No. 24 for the race lead. The two would pull crossover moves for a handful of laps before Hill cleared the Hendrick Motorsports driver.
Erik Jones would spin on the frontstretch, bringing out the yellow.
Byron would continue to lead, but Smithley would put the power down, pressuring the No. 24.
Smithley would reel in Bryon and would swiftly take second away. Earnhardt would also join into the battle and would challenge for third.
Another caution would fly when Elliott and Wallace would make contact in Turn 1, sending the No. 9 Hooters Chevy for a spin.
Briscoe and Chastain would stay out, and the duo would lead on the restart. They would be swallowed up by drivers with new tires, as Smithley steamed by the two, re-inheriting the lead.
Near the Top 5, Byron and Bowman would collide on the fronstretch, triggering another big crash as more drivers would have no place to go. Kyle Busch, Bowman, Preece, Majeski, Earnhardt were notables that were collected.
Smithley would lead the field with 27 laps to go, but more drivers would find trouble as with 23 to go, Bowyer, Preece, and Byron would crash in Turn 1.
The No. 51 would continue to lead on the restart. DiBenedetto and Kligerman would lurk their way into the Top 5, with Earnhardt in hot pursuit.
Earnhardt’s No. 8 would come to life as he would march his way past DiBenedetto and Kligerman. Briscoe would also follow Earnhardt as they both would gradually catch Smithley and Hill.
With nine laps to go, Hill would challenge Smithley for the lead and would clear the No. 51. Earnhardt would quickly take the second spot away as well.
Earnhardt would then go for the race lead, passing Hill on the inside with five to go. Hill would pull a crossover move and the two would swap lanes.
Due to the leaders battling, it allowed Briscoe to pounce. The No. 98 would make it three wide into Turn 1, but would back off, hindering his chances of victory.
Hamlin, who was several positions back, was also coming to life. With fresh tires, he had caught the leaders with only a few laps remaining.
On the last lap, Hamlin would make a move to the outside line into Turn 1. He would manage to keep the car up top and would pass Earnhardt off of Turn 4 to take the victory with a last lap pass after contact with Earnhardt. Earnhardt would save it off the final corner and would eek out Hill and Briscoe to take second. Hill would be third, with Briscoe in fourth. Smithley would round out the Top 5.
Hamlin pledged $5000 if he won to families affected by the coronavirus within the Homestead-Miami area. He also pledged $100 for each lap he led.
There were nine cautions during the 100-lap event.
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Timmy Hill
4. Chase Briscoe
5. Garrett Smithley
6. Alex Bowman
7. Bubba Wallace
8. Ryan Preece
9. Ty Majeski
10. Erik Jones
11. Matt DiBenedetto
12. Landon Cassill
13. Parker Kligerman
14. Ross Chastain
15. Joey Logano
16. Clint Bowyer
17. Ryan Truex
18. Bobby Labonte
19. Ty Dillon
20. Justin Allgaier
21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
22. Austin Cindric
23. Michael McDowell
24. Chase Elliott
25. Brad Keselowski
26. Christopher Bell
27. Austin Dillon
28. Chris Buescher
29. Kyle Busch
30. John Hunter Nemechek
31. Jimmie Johnson
32. Anthony Alfredo
33. Kyle Larson
34. William Byron
35. Kurt Busch