This article is part of our DraftKings NASCAR series.
FOOD CITY SHOWDOWN
Bristol Motor Speedway (0.53-mile oval)
Two 50-Lap Heat Races
One 150-Lap Main Event
With the 2020 NASCAR racing season on hold as the world tries to control the current coronavirus pandemic, NASCAR stars of past and present have shifted their competitive sights to iRacing, simulation-style virtual events. Two races in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series have been held so far with Denny Hamlin and Timmy Hill winning at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, respectively.
This week, drivers will tackle an electronic version of Bristol Motor Speedway in a Sunday afternoon showdown, and DraftKings will offer fantasy games to add to the fun. Scoring for the iRacing events is the same as for live NASCAR DFS contests offered by DraftKings, though live scoring will not be available.
Car setups for last week's Texas race were fixed, putting a level playing field for drivers to test themselves against their peers. However, the rigs' uses varies widely. Hamlin reportedly has one of the most expensive with various sensors incorporated to produce a high level of simulation. Other use multiple screens or computer monitors to replicate some of the experience of being in a real car, while others simply leverage plastic pedals, wheel and computer affixed to kitchen tables or desks.
The racing has been entertaining, but enough to get the competitive juices flowing. The virtual environment has simultaneously reset the playing field while opening the door to younger drivers to race against veterans who have since retired.
Here are the drivers who make top (or bottom) considerations for DraftKings fantasy lineups.
Timmy Hill ($10,700) - Hill is the winner of 647 total iRacing events, including last week's invitational event at Texas Motor Speedway. Who knew he was so prolific in the virtual world? Hill bumped leader William Byron in that Texas event to take the victory and add to his impressive wins total. He held off Ryan Preece to do that after taking the lead from Byron. He is one of the most successful competitors in the iRacing format and should be seriously considered by DFS competitors looking to bolster their rosters for this weekend's Bristol event.
Denny Hamlin ($9,300) - Hamlin's rig alone should prove he takes his virtual racing very seriously. He won the initial Pro Invitational even in Miami in what could arguably be called a simulator. He used a stop for fresh tires to chase down the leaders and pass Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win the inaugural event in the series. He also made a nice donation to benefit families impacted by the COVID-19 virus in the Homestead-Miami area as a result of the success. He has 31 total wins under the format and took his Miami win while not wearing shoes.
Garrett Smithley ($10,200) - The eNASCAR series is giving a chance for some drivers not normally on the radar during regular race weekends to get some face time racing up front. Smithley is one of those drivers. He has 146 total wins in the format and was a contender for the win in Miami, too. Smithley started that race from pole and added a top-five finish to his eNASCAR statistics after setting the pace through that first event. He may not be one of the drivers fantasy players look to on a traditional race weekend, but the great equalizer of esports is allowing him to make his mark at the front in eNASCAR's Pro Invitational Series.
Landon Cassill ($8,900) - Like Hill and Smithley, Cassill is another driver used to driving for smaller teams under normal race-weekend conditions, but has mixed it up at the front more regularly in this version. He lost his ride with StarCom racing prior to the 2020 season and made start-and-park appearances in the Xfinity series since. He finished 12th in Miami and was fifth in last week's event. He is a veteran in the iRacing format and once played host to his own event on the platform that attracted 200 racers.
Jimmie Johnson ($5,000) - In his final year of a glittering NASCAR career Johnson today finds himself as a rookie in this new arena. He finished 31st of the 35 drivers in Miami while using an IndyCar setup for the track and admits he has a long way to go to drive one of the electronic cars, let alone being competitive. He has been diligently practicing after not finding much traction, and has even gone so far as to hire a tutor to help him climb the learning curve. However, he is also doing double duty in IndyCar's eRacing series. He was 16th of 25 drivers when that series tackled Watkins Glen International. He won the spring race at Bristol twice, but could use some serious luck to turn his virtual racing career around this week.
Kyle Busch ($6,500) - Busch can win in just about anything he drives, but that hasn't necessarily been the case in the virtual world. He finished 29th and 17th, respectively, in the two races thus far and could use some help. He was involved in a big crash in Texas and said that the cars bounce off track walls much faster on this platform than in real life. Qualifying well to gain track position and not crashing will be the two areas he tries to improve upon this week in Bristol, where he is the winningest active driver with eight victories.
Daniel Suarez ($6,700) - Suarez had the dubious distinction of being the first driver disqualified by NASCAR officials in the Texas round of the invitational series. He did it in his first race, too! Suarez was looking for revenge on Ty Dillon as he made a rash move to intentionally cause a crash, which only ended up putting himself in the wall and giving him a damaged car. He was called to the virtual hauler and yanked from his first virtual race. Still, he raced pretty well and could be a safer option for fantasy owners if he controls his emotions this week. After last week's race he attempted to place the blame for the wreck on his dog, though.
Ty Dillon ($6,600) - Dillon admitted he was nervous and didn't know what he was doing ahead of his iRacing debut at Miami. That doesn't equate to a huge vote of confidence as fantasy owners look for options heading into this week's event at Bristol. He finished 19th in Miami and then followed that with a 16th-place run at Texas. His goal for Miami was to survive, but admitted to hitting the wall and damaging his car while being distracted watching the television instead of driving. He will have some ground to cover to be competitive at Bristol, but admitted he has been having a good time and is looking forward to the challenge.