Fox Sports has reached an agreement with Nascar to broadcast the remainder of the US stock car racing series’s new esports competition, the eNascar iRacing Pro Invitational Series.
Last Sunday’s inaugural event, a virtual race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, drew 903,000 viewers on cable network FS1, according to Nielsen Media Research. It was the most-watched sports telecast on cable television that day and the most-watched telecast on FS1 since the sports shutdown began on March 12.
Most notably, it was also the highest-rated esports TV program ever in the United States.
The eNascar iRacing Pro Invitational Series has been created in partnership with Nascar’s long-standing esports partner iRacing, a leading motorsport simulation platform. It replaces at least seven real-world competitions on the race calendar that have been suspended due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Races feature 35 drivers from Nascar’s portfolio of competitions, including the Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, as well as Nascar legends.
Competitors take part from iRacing simulators in their homes. They include Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bobby Labonte, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson, and Christopher Bell, among many others.
Fox Sports will cover of the remainder of the esports season – beginning with a virtual race at Texas Motor Speedway on March 29 – with races simulcast on the main Fox network (though this is subject to change), FS1, and the Fox Sports app. Races will be available in Canada through cable network Fox Sports Racing.
The Fox Nascar broadcast team of Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy, and Larry McReynolds will continue to call the action from the Fox Nascar studios in Charlotte, North Carolina, with Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer providing “in-car” commentary.
“We’re overwhelmed by the positive feedback and encouragement sent by industry stakeholders, drivers, partners, media and most importantly, our fans. We all can’t wait to get back to racing and our partners at iRacing and Fox have worked with us to do just that – race,” said Tim Clark, Nascar’s senior vice president and chief digital officer.
“We are committed to running these eNascar iRacing events as long as necessary. Providing a platform for our fans to watch and engage with their favorite drivers is our number one priority,” Clark said.