Smithley: Expectations were 'knocked out of the park'

Garrett Smithley came away from Sunday’s first eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series event with a lot of exposure but he believes there was a far more important takeaway.

Smithley: Expectations were 'knocked out of the park'
Garrett Smithley, JD Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro teamjdmotorsports.com
Garrett Smithley, Rick Ware Racing, Chevrolet Camaro RICH MAR FLORIST
 Garrett Smithley, Rick Ware Racing, Ford Mustang Honest Abe Roofing

Smithley, who competes regularly in the NASCAR Cup Series for Rick Ware Racing, one of the smaller underfunded teams, ended up winning the pole for Sunday’s race at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway and finished fifth.

Smithley, 27, has logged numerous hours participating in iRacing since 2009, with over 140 victories in more than 1,200 starts.

Read Also:

“As soon as I found out that everything was canceled at Atlanta, I started contacting people with ways we could try to fill that void. I felt so bad for the fans, especially the ones who had already arrived at the track for the race weekend,” Smithley said.

“It was just a terrible situation and it’s one that none of us could do anything about. But I just thought we needed to do something for the fans.”

As it turned out, Kevin Hamlin, T.J. Majors and Dale Earnhardt Jr. had already gotten the ball rolling with the Replacement 100 esports event. It was the following day Smithley got word NASCAR and iRacing were putting together something more extensive and he received an invitation for what turned out to be Sunday’s Pro Invitational.

The 100-lap race featured numerous Cup series drivers as well as some from the Xfinity and Truck series that raced their way into the field. The event was broadcast live on Fox Sports 1.

NASCAR has postponed all races through May 3 as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Sunday was originally the scheduled date of the Cup race at Homestead.

Read Also:

Smithley, both as the both pole winner and because he ran up front much of the race, received a lot of attention during the TV broadcast. His own broadcast of his race on his personal Twitch stream peaked at nearly 4,000 during the event. His previous high for a session was around 450.

“I wasn’t sure how the race was going to go. I knew there would be a mixed bag of guys who had done a lot of iRacing and some who had never done any,” Smithley said.

“My expectations were knocked out of the park. Just to be able to be with those guys who have done this a lot and hold my own was really good for me.”

A unique opportunity

In the end, Smithley believes Sunday’s event will pay big dividends down the road for NASCAR.

“In these uncertain times, I’m so glad NASCAR capitalized on this,” he said. “NASCAR and motorsports in general have something unique where you can get on a computer or a simulator and have a wheel, pedals and a shifter and you can go race.

“We saw that today. It was mixed between some very accomplished drivers on the track as well as with guys who have a lot of experience in sim racing but don’t have the equipment and opportunities others do at the race track.

“I hope it was a good show for the fans and I’m glad we could provide something entertaining and fun during a very stressful time.”

shares
comments
Hamlin beats Earnhardt for eNASCAR Pro Invitational win
Previous article

Hamlin beats Earnhardt for eNASCAR Pro Invitational win

Next article

Hamlin: Pro Invitational event "definitely a success"

Hamlin: Pro Invitational event "definitely a success"
Load comments
The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team Prime

The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team

Saddled with uncompetitive Minardi machinery, Tarso Marques didn't manage to score points in his three partial seasons of Formula 1. But now the Brazilian has the chance to show what he can do in NASCAR, and explains the story of his comeback with new Cup Series entrant Team Stange

NASCAR Cup
Apr 13, 2022
The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car Prime

The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car

NASCAR’s new stock car generation is encouraging an influx of fresh blood into its top tier. But there are concerns that parts are in short supply as the entire paddock tries to build up stocks at the same time

NASCAR Cup
Feb 22, 2022
How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style Prime

How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style

After holding his nerve and hip-checking his teammate on the run to the line, Austin Cindric made a perfect start to life as a full-timer in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning the Daytona 500. Here's how the Penske Ford man emerged first across the line in the first points-scoring race for the much-anticipated Next Generation cars

NASCAR Cup
Feb 21, 2022
Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season Prime

Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season

There are plenty of uncertainties ahead of the 2022 NASCAR Cup season as an all-new fleet of cars take to the track for the first time. Ahead of this weekend's Daytona 500, our experts explain what you need to know

NASCAR Cup
Feb 17, 2022
How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival Prime

How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival

The NASCAR Cup kicks off with the Daytona 500 this weekend, but a major engine overhaul and a subsequent mountain of work has been required to be ready for the arrival of the Next Gen cars.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2022
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021