NASCAR's virtual racing series heads to the Monster Mile
Before the regular NASCAR season returns from a coronavirus-induced break, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series remains active. This week, NASCAR Cup Series current and legendary drivers compete at the virtual Monster Mile. Coverage for the eNASCAR Finish Line 150 at Dover International Speedway begins on Sunday, May 3 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, the FOX Sports App and select FOX networks.
iRacing will continue on with its twist this week in which the top 10 qualifiers will invert to the back of the field. Also, the top three finishers from last week — Alex Bowman, Corey LaJoie and Ryan Preece — will automatically start at the rear. This could be key for DraftKings, especially with Preece (but more on him later).
FanDuel is offering some daily fantasy contests on their site, including tournaments and some cash games. Drivers will earn points based on their finishing position as well as bonus points for laps led (0.25), fastest laps (0.40), and laps completed (0.10). New this week, FanDuel will subtract 0.10 points for each time a driver has an incident. Keep that in mind when crafting your lineups!
Those outside Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, and Washington may deposit and enter paid contests on FanDuel.
DraftKings also has tournament and cash contests open for Sunday’s race. The biggest difference between DraftKings and FanDuel scoring is that DraftKings adds or subtracts a point for each position gained or lost on the track. Unfortunately, qualifying is expected to start right before the race, so it may be difficult to adjust your lineups in time. DraftKings acknowledges this issue and says it may adjust the start time of its contests until after the starting lineup is known. Dover is currently scheduled to go green around 1:10 p.m. ET, so keep the quick turnaround in mind should you plan to make any changes.
Anyone who is not in the above states is eligible to deposit and enter contests.
If you'd rather play for free, check out the following sites and apps.
The NASCAR Finish Line app is on iOS and Android devices for those 21 and over. In this game, you can choose the top-finishing driver from four options. After picking six drivers (one from each group), you will then predict who will place first and second in Sunday’s race. According to the app, the top 100 fans win a guaranteed prize while those who earn 500 points win or split the $5,000 jackpot.
My picks for the six groups are William Byron, Garrett Smithley, Preece, Erik Jones, Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney.
Similarly, the FOX Bet Super 6 app is free to play and awards a $5,000 jackpot to those who get all six correct. If no one gets all six right, then $1,000 will be split among users with the next highest correct picks. This week, the app has Dale Earnhardt Jr., Blaney, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick. Note: Chase Elliott has withdrawn from the race, so check the app to see if they replace him.
You can choose where you think each driver will end the event by sliding the bar under “Finish Place” to the range you want. Positions one-30 are separated in increments of five, while 31-40 is the final range.
Finally, if IndyCar iRacing is more your thing, go to fantasy.indycar.com to compete in INDYCAR’s iRacing Fantasy Challenge. The Series heads to virtual Indianapolis Motor Speedway Saturday, May 2. You choose a team of four drivers that will total no more than $100. Drivers earn points for finishing position and bonus points for winning the pole, leading a lap, leading the most laps, and winding up on the podium. There will be 10 winners each round, so make your picks at least 15 minutes before each event. See the website rules link for further details.
Do I really need to mention Byron's the favorite? The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports driver won twice in a row at Bristol Motor Speedway and Richmond Raceway. He also led 116 and 94 laps in each race, respectively, to emerge as the sport's rising iRacing star. Dover is a bit longer than these tracks, but can still bite like a short track. Byron should have no trouble leading the way here.
Additionally, Byron finished sixth last week at Talladega Superspeedway after starting in the back. And don't forget his near-victory at Texas Motor Speedway before Timmy Hill boot-scooting' boogied him out of the way. Byron led 80 laps there before ending the race in seventh place.
On iRacing, nearly half of Byron's finishes have been in the top five, which is simply incredible. His sim skills put him at a premium in daily fantasy; it's hard not to play him due to both consistency and dominance.
Smithley is another experienced iRacer who continues to give good performances. His only finish outside the top 10 in this special series was at Richmond, where he ran 17th. Smithley's also scored three top fives at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Texas and Talladega. Additionally, he led 24 laps in the series opener.
Since the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing driver finished nearly 44% of his total starts on the iRacing platform inside the top five, he is more likely to get a good result at Dover. Though Smithley does encounter trouble on short tracks occasionally (12 incident points at Richmond), he is still one to keep an eye on this week.
Cassill has three top-five finishes in the Pro Invitational Series so far, including a fifth at Talladega last week. When he finished fourth at Richmond, he had zero incident points; which makes him a good option on FanDuel where he is valued at $10,500. It will be hard to fit him with Byron, but it is possible.
While Cassill often didn't finish well at Dover in real life, he did end the 2016 race 19th for Front Row Motorsports. FRM isn't a well-funded team, so that was quite an accomplishment for him. Since much of Cassill's career has been with underfunded programs, you can overlook that when making your props.
Preece rebounded from a disappointing 19th at Richmond to take a podium finish at Talladega. Thanks to the new rules, however, Preece will start at the rear this week. He will probably be highly-owned on DraftKings because of that starting spot, as the site awards a bonus point for each position gained on the racetrack.
That third-place finish last week was Preece's fourth top-10 and second top-five finish of the series. The No. 37 JTG Daugherty Racing pilot has more than 100 top-five finishes in his iRacing career out of about 250 starts. Additionally, he scored a 19th in last year's real-life event in the fall. Preece can use his sim skills to nab a good result... as long as he avoids Matt DiBenedetto's wrath.
The talented Cup Series rookie and two-time Xfinity Series champion may not have as much iRacing experience as the above drivers, but he's definitely learning. Reddick was eighth at Bristol and 12th at Richmond. Since Dover is another shortish-type track, he should have no trouble at all adapting to the environment and potentially get a good result. Reddick's also fairly cheap on FanDuel ($7,200) and would allow you to choose another high-priced driver for your lineup.
In real life, the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing wheelman scored two top-five finishes in the Xfinity Series at the Monster Mile, including a third-place finish last spring. And although it wasn't at a short track, Reddick did finish ninth at Kansas Speedway last year in the Cup Series. He also was 11th at Auto Club Speedway earlier this season and looked to have a top-five finish at Phoenix Raceway before a tire blew. Perhaps he can use some of that growing on-track knowledge for Cup at Dover this weekend?