Every week, NESN Fuel partner iRacing, the world’s premier online racing simulation service, recaps a race from one of its top series. This week, iRacing recapped the Pro Race of Champions at Phoenix International Raceway, an event featuring stars from IMSA, IndyCar and NASCAR. Read more about iRacing here.
Chase Briscoe only led two of 50 laps in the 2016 iRacing Pro Race of Champions at Phoenix International Raceway on Wednesday night, but they were the important ones as he captured the online motorsports simulation service’s sixth annual all-star race of professional race drivers.
Together with X Games rallycross gold medalist Mitchell deJong, SCCA Pirelli World Challenge competitor Michael Lewis and former IndyCar driver Dan Clarke, Briscoe spent most of the sim race chasing NASCAR Sprint Cup star Kyle Larson in their digital Dallara DW12 IndyCars. But first Lewis and Clarke collided, then Larson and deJong got tripped up by lapped traffic in the final going, paving the way for the 2016 ARCA Racing Series champion to take the win.
iRacing.com and CXC Simulations will donate a total of $4,000 to the Justin Wilson Children’s Fund in Briscoe’s name.
“I don’t know that laying back all race was the plan,” said Briscoe. “Kyle got the pole and we figured he’d drive away with it. I started fifth, had some good battles with guys and moved up to third. Then when Kyle wrecked I was in second and, a lap later Mitchell wrecked and there I was in first. It was a fun event to win and even better that it was for a good cause.”
“It was a super cool event,” said deJong, who finished second. “We had a lot of different guys from all types of racing, all getting together. I was so close to that win, but I got hit by another car with three laps to go. It was a bit unfortunate, but it was still a fun race.”
As deJong noted, the event attracted a diverse and impressive entry including IndyCar champion Will Power, IMSA champion Alex Gurney and NHRA Funny Car champion Ron Capps as well as IndyCar team owner Sam Schmidt who – along with deJong, Gurney and others – raced on the full motion simulators at CXC’s headquarters in California. However Schmidt, who was paralyzed as the result of a racing accident in 2000, also utilized the semi-autonomous technology Arrow Electronics is developing to enable disabled people to drive automobiles.
“I’ve run a lot of laps at Phoenix over the years, so I was really looking forward to the race,” said Schmidt, who ran as high as eighth. “But with this system where I blow into a tube to work the throttle, I got winded pretty quickly going flat-out around PIR. But it was a fantastic event. We were all really going at it most of the race.”
Briscoe adds his name to a distinguished list of iRacing Pro Race of Champions that includes Brandon Davis (IMSA), Shane van Gisbergen (V8 Supercars), Philipp Eng (Porsche Carrera Cup), Timmy Hill (NASCAR Sprint Cup) and Richie Stanaway (World Endurance Championship) and which has contributed more than $20,000 to charity since 2010.
All photos via iRacing