NASCAR and iRacing this week announced the longest-running officially sanctioned esports racing series will return for its 12th season.
And with it an increased championship purse, new teams and an elevated playoff format to conclude an 18-race schedule, which will mirror some of the real-life NASCAR schedule enhancements.
“After more than a decade of iRacing competition, the 2021 season is poised to further position the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series as one of the most immersive and competitive gaming leagues,” said Tim Clark, senior vice president and chief digital officer, NASCAR.
“Last year was monumental for esports, and we’re committed to elevating NASCAR’s presence in the space, delivering more entertainment for fans and connecting the sport with new audiences.”
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season will kick off at the virtual Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 8 at 9 p.m. ET on eNASCAR.com. Teams will compete for the largest purse in series history, totaling $330,000.
“Year after year, the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series has grown bigger and bigger, to the point where we crowned our first $100,000 champion last year,” said iRacing president Tony Gardner.
“We’re excited to continue raising the bar in 2021 with new drivers, teams, and tracks, an even larger purse, and a new playoff format, and we can’t wait to get the season started at Daytona!”
The 2020 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season went down to the wire, with Nick Ottinger claiming the series’ first $100,000 championship in William Byron eSports’ first year in the series. Ottinger and nearly 30 other drivers return from last season, plus a talented mix of rookies and veterans that weren’t on last year’s grid.
An already marquee group of returning teams welcomes the virtual debut of 23XI, the new NASCAR Cup Series team owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin; McLaren Shadow, the official esports team of McLaren F1; Elliott Sadler Esports, owned by former NASCAR Cup Series veteran Elliott Sadler; and professional esports teams Spacestation Gaming and XSET.
The 40 drivers and 20 teams will take on a challenging schedule that represents the best of NASCAR’s highest level, from the first green flag at Daytona to an epic finale at Texas Motor Speedway, and an All-Star Race featuring the return of former series champions on the three-mile iRacing Superspeedway.
New this season, the playoffs will expand from eight drivers to 10, with a “win and you’re in” format for drivers in the top 20 in regular season points, before paring down to four drivers for the Texas finale.
The full 2021 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series schedule (subject to change) is as follows:
February 8: Daytona International Speedway
February 23: Homestead-Miami Speedway
March 2: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
March 16: Atlanta Motor Speedway
March 30: Auto Club Speedway
April 13: Richmond Raceway
April 27: Kansas Speedway
May 18: Circuit of the Americas
May 25: Charlotte Motor Speedway
June 22: Pocono Raceway
June 29: Road America
July 13: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
July 27: iRacing Superspeedway (All-Star Race)
August 3: Watkins Glen International
August 17: Michigan International Speedway
August 31: Darlington Raceway^
September 14: Bristol Motor Speedway^
September 28: Talladega Superspeedway^
October 12: Texas Motor Speedway^
^Denotes Playoffs Event
All races will be broadcast live on eNASCAR.com and iRacing.com/live, as well as the NASCAR and iRacing Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube channels. All race streams will kick off at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.