Race Weekend Central

NASCAR’s Next-Gen Cars To Be Raced in iRacing Pro Invitational Darlington Event

Last time, it was youth over experience that headlined the iRacing Pro Invitational Series entry list. This time around, it will be experience meeting the future.

Race fans will see the NASCAR Next-Gen race cars take to the virtual track for the first time on May 5, as iRacing has added them into their service. On Wednesday night, the NASCAR Cup Series stars of today will race the stock cars of tomorrow.

In addition, Bobby Labonte, the 56-year-old 2000 Cup champion, will be joining the modern stars of stock car racing at the virtual Darlington Raceway, it was revealed Tuesday (May 4) evening. The real life Next-Gen cars will be revealed earlier that day at 3 p.m. ET.

Labonte, who has one real-life Cup Series win at Darlington that came during his championship-winning campaign, has been chosen by FOX Sports to take part in Wednesday night’s virtual 120-lap event.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will accompany his fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer in getting the FOX Sports Provisional and will return after an eighth-place finish in the last event at virtual Talladega Superspeedway.

Jesse Iwuji has been awarded the fan vote for the second time and will join the rest of the field after his 19th-place finish at Talladega. Last time, Iwuji joined the virtual circuit from the halls of his alma mater; the United States Naval Academy.

Timmy Hill continues his quest in looking for a second iRacing Pro Invitational Series Championship victory after winning last year at virtual Texas Motor Speedway, which has qualified him with a former winner’s provisional.

Kurt Busch rejoins the field after missing the last event at Talladega, as he was participating in a tire test at Nashville Superspeedway on the same night. He failed to qualify for the feature event in the season opening Bristol Dirt Race.

Clint Bowyer, who was a part of the first two events of the 2021 virtual season, will not take part in Wednesday night’s event. He failed to qualify for Bristol’s feature and placed 20th at Talldega.

Ryan Preece is the only full-time Cup driver who won’t be in the event. JTG Daugherty Racing’s No. 37 doesn’t have a charter, so Preece was a candidate in the fan vote. He was in the season opener as a fill-in for Kevin Harvick before not being invited to the Talladega event.

2021 iRacing Pro Invitational Round 3 Entry List

The third event of the 2021 iRacing Pro Invitational Series season will be live on FS1 at 7 p.m. ET.

About the author

Dalton Hopkins began writing for Frontstretch in April 2021. Currently, he is the lead writer for the weekly Thinkin' Out Loud column and one of our lead reporters. Beforehand, he wrote for IMSA shortly after graduating from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2019. Simultaneously, he also serves as a First Lieutenant in the US Army.

Follow Dalton on Twitter @PitLaneLT

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Bill B

Are you people for real?
So what? It’s not like there is even enough data on the next gen cars to have updated the computer with new parameters. All they possibly could have done is change the graphics. They could have made them Model Ts…. would that have been worthy of an article.?


Wow….you have no idea what you’re talking about.

Bill B

Agreed, but I do know that the next gen cars have not actually been raced. Please feel free to enlighten me as to how those that program the simulation can actually know how the car should race when the car has not actually been raced yet.

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