Byron wins virtual Bristol; Bubba ‘rage quits’ early in race

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — William Byron led the most laps in NASCAR’s first two virtual races and had nothing to show for his gaming skills. The third time out, he got the win.

Byron easily won the iRacing event Sunday at virtual Bristol Motor Speedway, where NASCAR would have been really racing before the coronavirus pandemic caused sports to shut down.

“Some things are different but a lot of things are similar and this is a racetrack I’ve always enjoyed coming to,” Byron said. “It’s fun to have some pressure on iRacing; I usually just run it to have some fun and get better.”

NASCAR changed the format this week and started with single-car qualifying to set the field for a pair of 50-lap heat races. Those heat races determined the starting order. Byron started from the pole and was never challenged.

The entertainment again came from the drivers, most of whom streamed their gaming experiences for fans to eavesdrop on the action and the arguing. Clint Bowyer was the in-race reporter and again delivered a hilarious performance.

“I got Bubbaed!” Bowyer shouted after he was moved out of line by Bubba Wallace. “I need a beer really badly.”

Wallace appeared to “rage quit” the race after the incident. “That’s why I don’t take this (crap) serious. Peace out,” Wallace said on his gaming stream.

After fans ripped him on Twitter, he laughed at how seriously some are taking iRacing with his response.

“I ruined so many peoples day by quitting … a video game,” he wrote. “Bahaha. A video game. Damn quarantine life is rough.” He also admitted to rage quitting in a second post.

Blue-Emu, one of Wallace’s sponsors, was apparently not pleased. “Bye bye Bubba. We’re interested in drivers, not quitters,” said a tweet on the account of

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McLaughlin wins virtual IndyCar event racing from Australia

Scott McLaughlin’s real IndyCar debut is on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Australian V8 SuperCars champion isn’t letting that stop him from learning how to virtually drive the cars.

McLaughlin won IndyCar’s virtual race from virtual Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, the second race in the series’ attempt to create content during the worldwide shutdown of sports.

McLaughlin drives for Roger Penske in Australia and the team owner had planned to give McLaughlin his series debut in May on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That plan was scrapped when the IndyCar season was suspended last month. The road course race has been tentatively rescheduled for July 4, a date Penske said would be too hectic for McLaughlin to make his debut.

McLaughlin, like NASCAR’s seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, was an invited guest by IndyCar to participate in the iRacing Series meant to entertain fans during the stoppage. He had to wake up at 2 a.m. in Brisbane, Australia, to compete on his simulator.

“I started iRacing 10 years ago and it was the best thing I did,” said McLaughlin. “For an aspiring race car driver, it is worth the investment in your future. It’s been an awesome tool for me and it’s great fun.”

McLaughlin said his rig was not as flashy as some of the big simulators used by the stars and his is actually set for a touring car. It was 6 a.m. at McLaughlin’s house when he virtually crossed the finish line.

“You know, eSports has really been on the rise the last few years, and it’s really taken off during this pandemic,” McLaughlin said.

He beat Team Penske driver Will Power, a fellow Australian who was racing from his home in North Carolina, Scott Speed and IndyCar rookie Alex Palou, racing on

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