William Byron earned his first win in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series on Sunday. File Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI | License Photo
April 5 (UPI) -- After leading the most laps in the first two races of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, William Byron finally earned a victory in Sunday's Food City Showdown at virtual Bristol Motor Speedway.
Byron, who started from the pole, held the lead for the first 73 laps of the race before Chris Buescher jumped in front. Byron regained the top position with 43 laps remaining and was never challenged again.
"It was a lot of fun," Byron told reporters after the race. "We had to work through some track position and really keep ourselves up toward the top five."
The race at Bristol was NASCAR's third virtual event since its real-life season was halted because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Byron, who lost last weekend's virtual event at Texas Motor Speedway after a bump-and-run maneuver by Timmy Hill late in the race, said it was "awesome" to earn the breakthrough win.
"I mean, obviously when the race is going, I think anybody would be dumb to tell you that they don't take it seriously because it's a race," Byron said. "But it took me probably an hour after the race to really cool off and realize that I was just racing on the computer and I could get over it.
"For me mentally, I try to treat it as a race when the race is going on. But I think that it was just frustrating because we hadn't closed one out yet and we had led the most laps, so to finally close the deal this week was really awesome."
The main attraction of the virtual race again was the drivers, most of whom live-streamed their gaming performances for NASCAR fans. Clint Bowyer served as the in-race reporter and had a back-and-forth exchange with Bubba Wallace after a crash.
Fifteen laps into the competition, Wallace was involved in his second wreck of the day after getting bumped hard by Bowyer. The incident caused Wallace to angrily quit the game, a move that drew criticism from fans on social media.
"I got Bubba'd!" Bowyer shouted after initially being moved out of line by Wallace. "I need a beer really badly."
After being ripped on Twitter, Wallace laughed at how seriously fans are taking iRacing. Blue-Emu, one of Wallace's sponsors, appeared to take issue with the driver's actions and terminated its relationship with him.
John Hunter Nemechek finished in second and Hill came in third. Denny Hamlin and Matt DiBenedetto rounded out the top five.
Byron joined Hamlin (Homestead-Miami) and Hill (Texas) as the third different winner in the three Pro Invitational Series races.