March 22, 2020 -- In a star-studded field of current NASCAR drivers -- all racing in the comfort of their own homes -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. nearly won the first-ever eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series event at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Earnhardt took the lead from Timmy Hill with two to go, but couldn't hold off a hard charge from Denny Hamlin, who had virtually tested all week and probably over-spent on his iRacing rig. Nonetheless, Hamlin had the preferred line on the final lap. The two old friends battled side-by-side coming off the final turn on the final lap, with Hamlin using four fresh tires and the side of his car to shove Earnhardt off turn 4 and beat him to the stripe.
It should go on the record that Earnhardt Jr. has never finished outside the top-5 of a NASCAR-sanctioned event after retiring from full-time driving duties.
Still sitting in his car -- err, rig -- Dale Jr. said he was tired after the 100-lap, 150-mile race, but like he had done for all those years as a full-time NASCAR driver, he mustered enough energy to give his post-race thoughts to his thrilling race.
"It's not the first time Denny has beat me on the SIM racing. The guy is pretty good," Earnhardt said. "I've been racing against Denny for about two decades. I expected William Byron to be up there, too. There are a lot of fast guys, and a lot of guys putting in hard work to get competitive.
"We took tires with about 30 laps to go, and Denny took tires with about 20 laps to go. I think that was a big advantage for him. Plus we had been racing really hard up too front burning our stuff up. I didn't expect Denny to get up there but he did. And I went to the bottom because if I had gone to the top, I felt he could pass me a whole lot easier.
"This was a cool deal for FilterTime. It's a company that Blake Koch started, and I became a partner with him after about a year. So to be able to put our business on our car virtually and have a big network cover the race, it's great exposure for our business."
As for other opinions after the race, not everyone was happy with Hamlin's physicality coming off turn 4... like this guy:
And then there was the Door Bumper Clear crew, who live-streamed their viewing of the race on Dirty Mo Media's Twitter channel. They were pissed at Dale Jr. for giving up the top to Hamlin on the final lap. (Completely out-of-character for Brett Griffin and Freddie Kraft to think they could do it better). Watch their reaction to the last lap here.
All-new episodes of 'Dale Jr. Download' and 'Door Bumper Clear' comes at you this week on DirtyMoMedia.com.
-- Dirty Mo --