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
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
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021