Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:54 AM

North Wilkesboro eNASCAR iRacing Betting Preview, Odds and Picks

Just when I thought the six-race season of eNASCAR’s Pro Invitational Series was over last week at Dover, NASCAR and iRacing flipped the script and decided to give Fox-TV and the NASCAR fans one more race this Saturday as entertainment while most of us sit home during the pandemic. I love them for it.

Who would have ever thought that the six-race iRacing venture featuring most of the Cup Series drivers would be watched by an average weekly audience of 1.1 million people? Sure, we’re starving for any live event to watch and wager upon, but we’re watching and betting on what amount to a video game albeit with very realistic features with drivers at home driving their simulators.

2020 iRACING Pro Invitational Series
Results Winners

  • Race 1, March 22 - Homestead-Miami Speedway, Denny Hamlin
  • Race 2, March 29 - Texas Motor Speedway, Timmy Hill
  • Race 3, April 5 - Bristol Motor Speedway, William Byron
  • Race 4, April 19 - Richmond, William Byron
  • Race 5, April 26 - Talladega, Alex Bowman
  • Race 6, May 3 - Dover, William Byron

NASCAR could have just sat back and waited for May 17 when real racing returns at Darlington Raceway, but why waste the weekend after gaining so much momentum with iRacing.

And instead of using a regular track for the seventh race in the Pro Series, why not go out with a bang and bring a track back from the dead that hasn’t been used since 1996. And while we’re at it, why not bring the driver who won the final race there in 1996 back as well.

Welcome back North Wilkesboro Speedway and Jeff Gordon.

North Wilkesboro’s .625-mile layout with 14 degrees of banking has been basically abandoned with weeds bursting out of the asphalt and concrete stands, but in the virtual world, it looks brand new.

And much like the Cup Series does annually at Darlington, the drivers are using retro looks with their cars. Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 will be fitted with his familiar Rainbow Warrior paint scheme he used while winning the final race at North Wilkesboro in 1996.

The big betting news for Saturday’s eNASCAR race is that the current driver of the No. 24, William Byron, will not be racing. It’s shuffled the odds throughout the 28 driver field because Byron was sure to come in as the +150 (or lower) favorite despite having to start at the rear of the field due to winning last week at Dover.

In the three previous eNASCAR races on tracks 1-mile or less, Byron won all three (Bristol, Richmond, Dover). Even though he was born a year after the last North Wilkesboro race, Byron would have likely won again. But with him out of the way, the field just became more interesting to handicap.

eNASCAR iRacing Dover Betting Odds
Drivers to Watch

  • Timmy Hill +275
  • Denny Hamlin +650
  • Ryan Preece +650
  • Garrett Smithley +700
  • Parker Kligerman +800
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. +1000
  • Kyle Busch +1200
  • John H. Nemechek +1200
  • Landon Cassill +1400
  • Aric Almirola +3300
  • More...

eNASCAR iRacing North Wilkesboro
Betting Odds
Drivers to Watch

Here are the top candidates to win for Saturday’s race:

#66 Timmy Hill (+275) - He’s the favorite this week because Byron is not racing. In the three races 1-mile or less that Byron won, Smith was third at Bristol, runner-up at Richmond, and third at Dover. He’s been the most consistent driver in the six races so far with a 3.8 average finish as five of his six starts have been third-place finishes or better. He’s led 54 laps between his six starts and his lone win came at Texas after he bumped Byron out of the way.

#11 Denny Hamlin (+650) - He won at Homestead-Miami to kick off the Pro Series season, but he’s been at his best on the tracks 1-mile or less finishing sixth or better in all three. Two of his best tracks in the Cup series are the short tracks at Martinsville and Richmond and he also won at Bristol from the pole last fall. He probably offers the best value on the board.

#51 Garrett Smithley (+700) - He doesn’t have a win in the Pro Series but he’s been the second-most consistent driver with a 7.8 average finish. He’s a great match-up play against anyone other than Hill or Hamlin.

#38 John Hunter Nemechek (+1200) - He’s been much better than his 18th-place average suggests through six races. He’s been one of the most competitive and his best was runner-up at Bristol.

#8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (+1000) - He’s been to the North Wilkesboro track probably more than any other driver as his father won five times in the Cup Series and he was also instrumental in getting the layout of the track scanned and downloaded for iRacing to make this virtual race happen. He’s finished 26th or worse in his last two starts, but expect him to be contending for the win here.

#37 Ryan Preece (+650) - He’s averaged an impressive 11th-place finish between the six races despite a season-worst 29th last week at Dover. His 68 laps led is the second-most behind Byron’s 406 laps led. 

#95 Christopher Bell (+2000) - His best performances in the Pro Series have come on the tracks 1-mile or shorter including his season-best runner-up last week at Dover. 

#77 Parker Klingerman (+800) - His simulator set-up is similar to Hamlin’s and just like Hamlin, he’s been at his best on the shorter tracks with a season-best third at Richmond and seventh at Bristol. He should beer Saturday.

#89 Landon Cassill (+1400) - He had his worst performance of the season last week at Dover with 21st-place finish to drop his average finish down to 11th-place. His best finishes were fourth at both Texas and Richmond and then was fifth at Talladega. 

#24 Jeff Gordon (80/1) - He was the all-time leader in restrictor-plate Cup wins and finished 38th at virtual Talladega in his first iRacing event two weeks ago. He was lost and embarrassed and unfortunately, we had to hear him while doing so on Fox-TV making excuses and bad jokes. He was the last driver to win at North Wilkesboro in 1996, but it means nothing here. I put his name in the mix only to mention betting against him if matchups with him pop up. The simulators are tough, and he’s too inexperienced to be great at it. I expect him to finish 20th or worse. 

eNASCAR iRacing North Wilkesboro
Top-5 Finish Prediction

1) #66 Timmy Hill (11/4)
2) #11 Denny Hamlin (13/2)
3) #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (10/1)
4) #51 Garrett Smithley (7/1)
5) #89 Landon Cassill (14/1)

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