While the 2021 NASCAR season is set to kick off next month, its eSports equivalent will also return this year.
The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series made its debut last March while the sport was shut down for nearly 2½ months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, NASCAR announced the return of a new-look Pro Invitational in 2021 in which Cup Series drivers will compete virtually in a 10-race schedule that will complement the real racing schedule.
Fox Sports, which broadcast the inaugural series last spring, will broadcast the first five races of this year’s Pro Invitational in primetime on Fox Sports 1. NBC Sports Network will air the final five races of the series, which will be announced at a later date.
“The success of our eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series was underscored by an industry-wide effort to entertain fans during the early months of the global pandemic,” said Tim Clark, NASCAR senior vice president and chief digital officer.
“This year the Pro Invitational will return with a schedule of midweek races that will bridge the gap between our real-world races each weekend.”
With the Cup Series set to visit new tracks and new markets in 2021, this year’s Pro Invitational will feature a mix of tracks designed to preview the upcoming weekend’s real race – a feature that will help give fans a preview of what to expect as the Cup Series heads to new venues.
The first five mid-week events will air on FS1 on select Wednesday nights beginning March 24 with a visit to Bristol Motor Speedway’s new dirt configuration. That will be followed by races on virtual Talladega Superspeedway and Darlington Raceway, and a stop at another new venue – the Circuit of the Americas.
Details around the fifth race in the FS1 window, plus further plans for the second half of the Pro Invitational schedule, will be announced at a later date.
NBC Sports will pick up the second half of the 10-race season once the network’s broadcast window begins in June.
2021 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series (First Five-Races)
Date / Venue / Network / Time (ET)
Wednesday, March 24 / Bristol – Dirt / FS1 / 8-9:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 21 / Talladega / FS1 / 7-8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 5 / Darlington / FS1 / 8-9:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 19 / COTA / FS1 / 7-8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 2 / Track TBD / FS1 / 8-9:30 p.m.
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