CONCORD, N.C. -- William Byron has 300 wins over the course of his iRacing career, but unlike his early days when he used the simulator as a practice tool to work his way up to racing on a live track, he's now sharing the virtual field with some of the biggest names in NASCAR.
Byron has competed in the first two eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series events and placed seventh this past Sunday. The series has been extended throughout the season so NASCAR drivers can still compete without going to a live track.
“I just enjoy (iRacing). It’s always been something I’ve been passionate about. It really is how I got started in racing," Byron told NASCAR.com. “It’s really cool to see the iRacing community now come together and these races are going on as much as they are. I’m pretty excited for it because I think it’s a good chance to shine."
After the first race last week, Byron said he had multiple drivers call him for advice and tips. He said it's a unique dynamic because the drivers can communicate online, which is something they can't do at a live track.
"I had Kurt Busch on the phone and had a couple of phone calls back and forth throughout the week. He was trying to get going and trying to understand how it works," Byron said last week. "I had different conversations back and forth with other competitors that I was racing against. That was just fun to kind of be a part of.
"It’s cool because there’s so much text and chat that goes back and forth within the game, in the (simulator), that you wouldn’t ever have on the real track. You know, everyone is kind of on their own team and we don’t really talk at the track besides teammates in normal races, so that’s cool (to hear) the interaction between drivers."
With the racing world on hold, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series continues next week at the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway. One thing Byron said was a fun twist to virtual racing is the ability to communicate with fans during the race.
"I think it was really unique, I think you know the coolest part about the iRacing deal is that you have the ability to be on Twitter as the race is going on and that’s way different than anything we’ve done before," Byron said.
"The fact that we can be on there communicating and check the temperature of what fans are saying, what people are saying about the race ... I think the more that we all do it, the more that we’re going to get comfortable around each other and know what to expect there. It was a lot of fun."
The third race at Bristol will be Sunday at 1 p.m. ET and will air on FOX Sports 1.