2019 NASCAR iRACING PRO SERIES PREVIEW
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – On Tuesday night, 40 drivers will begin their campaigns in the 2019 NASCAR iRacing Pro Series. All of them will be looking for a place in the 2020 eNASCAR iRacing Series, but only the top 20 drivers will earn their place into the pinnacle of stock car sim racing. While this level of competition is new for some of the drivers in this year’s Pro Series, for most of the field, it is not. Over half of this year’s Pro Series field has experience running in the eNASCAR iRacing Series. Likewise, fans can expect the competition level to be similar to what they have seen on Tuesday nights.
Drivers in the Pro Series will compete at some of iRacing’s toughest ovals to earn their place in the eNASCAR iRacing Series. The season starts with the series’ lone superspeedway race at Daytona International Speedway. Then, the Pro Series will visit Atlanta Motor Speedway, Richmond Raceway, Dover International Raceway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Darlington Raceway.
Like the eNASCAR iRacing Series, the season will end at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but this visit will be special. With the changes to the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series calendar, Homestead is no longer the final race of the season, and as a result, the Pro Series season finale will be the last race an official NASCAR iRacing series runs in South Florida for the foreseeable future.
The personalities competing in this year’s NASCAR iRacing Pro Series are just as big as the tracks. The biggest name in this year’s Pro Series is the most decorated driver in eNASCAR iRacing Series history, Ray Alfalla. The four-time series champion struggled all season for Wood Brothers Racing, averaging a finish of 21st and only recording one top-five as he struggled to come to grips with the new aero package.
“The new package threw us for a loop,” said Alfalla. “Our cars lacked some speed, and I couldn’t make up for it with driving since we were wide open at many of the tracks. (The Class B) car drives more like what I am used to, so that shouldn’t be a problem in the Pro Series.”
While some drivers have plenty of recent eNASCAR iRacing Series experience, others are returning to high-level competition after an extended hiatus. Jeremy Allen competed in the eNASCAR iRacing Series in 2011 and 2012, collecting two wins and six top-fives. He comes into this season’s Pro Series as the top qualifier from the Road to Pro after winning one race and averaging an eighth-place finish.
Allen noted that much has changed in the eNASCAR iRacing Series since he last competed in it. “It’s been nine years since my first ever World Championship Series race, said Allen. “I was 14 then and it was much more difficult. It was split up in different groups and ranks, plus there were four races a week instead of one. My last run in the eNASCAR iRacing Series didn’t go as planned, but that was nine years ago. I have grown up and matured since then.”
Though Allen is excited to be back in the Pro Series, he is aware of how difficult the upcoming campaign will be. “My two wins in the eNASCAR iRacing Series don’t matter anymore,” he said. “Everyone in this series has stepped up their game. They are extremely talented and perform at the highest level. I have the confidence that when I am on my game, I can be one of the best drivers out there.”
Both Alfalla and Allen have won in eNASCAR iRacing Series competition at Daytona, but they aren’t the only drivers with Daytona wins on the ladder. Bryan Blackford, Braden Boulos and Ethan Lane all won in Daytona during this season’s Road to Pro campaign.
However, the Pro Series drivers know that with the nature of racing at Daytona, anyone can jump to the front and steal a victory. Michael Guariglia doesn’t believe he is strong at superspeedway racing, but is ready to start his Pro Series season off well. He returns to the Pro Series after finishing 24th in the 2019 eNASCAR iRacing Series standings.
Guariglia was a rookie in last year’s eNASCAR iRacing Series, and even though he is back in the Pro Series, he does not count his rooking campaign at the top level as a disappointment.
“I think my season was decent with the package and the learning curve I had to overcome in the series,” Guariglia said “My season was full of ups and downs. I had miserable results in the beginning of the season so I slowly worked on my race pace and found myself getting better and better and I ended up finishing well at various tracks.”
Guarliglia also believes that the biggest key to getting back into the eNASCAR iRacing Series will be to not beat yourself. “The challenge will be to get those good finishes and not put yourself in a bad position,” he said. “Last year I was not a factor in some of these races, but I took my time and paced myself and ran where I needed to get into the eNASCAR iRacing Series.”
The 2019 NASCAR iRacing Pro Series begins at 8:45 p.m. ET on October 22. Podium eSports will have coverage of every race on their Twitch channel, which can be found at twitch.tv/podiumesports. More information such as driver standings can be found on the Podium eSports NASCAR iRacing Pro series Page.