2020 Team Drydene Highlights: Team Drydene goes virtual

A virtual Team Drydene 0M. Photo by JZ iRacing Photos.

In 2020, much of life went virtual. Racing was no exception. From dirt to asphalt, across all levels nationwide, many drivers adjusted to a virtual set up to compete in a new esports format in the spring. Just like IRL, Team Drydene made its presence felt in iRacing.

While NASCAR, the World of Outlaws, and other sanctioning bodies put the brakes on real-life action, iRacing heated up for drivers in April and May. While iRacing has its own set of stars in its regularly-scheduled season, many professional drivers—Team Drydene included—were ready to try something new in the absence of real-life racing at virtual versions of tracks race fans know and love.

The eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series brought thrills

Corey LaJoie wheels the virtual No. 32 in May.

NASCAR iRacing and FOX Sports joined forces to create the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, a multi-week effort. The Pro Invitational Series was a truly high-level of competition, with many of the best current and former drivers taking part in races. NASCAR Cup Series driver Corey LaJoie, who drove the No. 32 Team Drydene Ford Mustang in 2019’s Drydene 400 as well as 2020’s Drydene Doubleheader Weekend, donned the Drydene colors at virtual Dover International Speedway and virtual North Wilkesboro Speedway at two separates races in May. During the North Wilkesboro race, the last virtual competition before NASCAR racing resumed, Corey LaJoie’s brake pedal broke off mid-race. The brake pedal mishap was unfortunate, but we would much rather see it happen on an iRacing rig rather than in real life.

The World of Outlaws goes iRacing – and Team Drydene is there

Logan Schuchart’s virtual ride. Photo by JZ iRacing Photos.

The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series and Morton Buildings Late Model Series were also active in the eSports realm, battling it out at tracks like Eldora, Knoxville, and Lernerville. Team Drydene’s Shark Racing duo competed in a number of races, and Logan Schuchart even wheeled a virtual Late Model for a few races in addition to his normal 1S Sprint Car. What’s more, stars made up a fierce field of competitors. Drivers included NASCAR drivers Joey Logano and William Byron and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya, among other dirt track stars. Much like real life, Schuchart improved each and every race, winning in thrilling fashion at virtual Eldora Speedway on April 28.

And in the Late Model series, Black Sunshine himself, legendary Late Model Hall of Famer Scott Bloomquist, got in on the action with an iRacing rig in a virtual No. 0 for several races. Team Drydene regular Chris Madden joined Bloomquist in a couple races as well. But the breakout star of Late Model iRacing was driver Corey “Flash” Gordon of Charlotte, North Carolina. Gordon took the helm of a Team Drydene Late Model (often the 0M) for several races in April and May, picking up several wins and a few more second place finishes as well.

Best of all, many of these races were broadcast on national television, like FS1 or CBS Sports. We love seeing dirt racing (and Drydene!) on the screen, but in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was truly a welcome sight.

For the drivers, iRacing provided a welcome boost of adrenaline too. Corey Gordon said it best after his April 8 victory at virtual Knoxville Raceway: “My heart’s racing, I’m sweating, I’m worn out.  This iRacing stuff’s no joke.”

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