Firecracker 400 presented by INFRA: Race Preview
June 29th, 2020 by Chris Leone
Two weeks ago, 344 drivers took to Daytona International Speedway in Bill Elliott and Dale Earnhardt’s 1987 NASCAR Cup Series cars with hopes of qualifying for the inaugural Firecracker 400 presented by INFRA Resolutions. This week, the top 86 of them finally get to face off.
Wednesday’s premier race, as well as Monday’s Firecracker 200, comprise two of the biggest independent special events of the year on iRacing. Promoted by eRacr.gg, a joint venture of NASCAR Cup Series drivers Landon Cassill and Parker Kligerman, only the best of the best on iRacing made it to last week’s open qualifying, and it went down to the very last car in second round qualifying to determine the 43-car grid.
Just how tight was the field? The difference between first and last on the Firecracker 400 grid was just over a tenth of a second, with every driver topping 210 miles per hour, and the margin between Justin Lisonbee and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s times for the final starting spot was .005 seconds. It wasn’t even until well after qualifying had wrapped up that Josh Parker withdrew from the 400-mile race due to an event conflict, enabling Earnhardt Jr. to move up from the pole of the Firecracker 200 to the final starting spot in the big show.
The list of drivers that didn’t even make it that far? Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch. Three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin. Three-time Indianapolis 500 polesitter Ed Carpenter. Even four-time eNASCAR champion Ray Alfalla found himself on the outside looking in after eight qualifying races determined the 88 drivers who even had a shot to move forward in the event.
It should be no surprise then that Wednesday’s event features a stacked lineup, with four current eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series drivers in the top six starting spots and 14 overall. Earnhardt Jr. and 13th-place qualifier William Byron headline the real-world drivers in the race, while Joseph Gulotta will lead them to the green after posting the top speed on pole day. Even Eddie Kerner, winner of the $10,000 Landon Cassill Qualifying Challenge presented by Select Blinds earlier this spring, had to hustle just to line up 27th.
Monday’s Firecracker 200, meanwhile, will see Mitchell Hunt and 2019 eNASCAR Championship 4 driver Blake Reynolds on the front row, as well as a number of other popular streamers and eNASCAR Road to Pro contenders in the lineup. Shotgun on the field will be Garrett Smithley, whose attempt to make the Wednesday show was derailed during second-round qualifying when he missed his deadline to complete a lap.
Full starting lineups for both events are as follows:
The Firecracker 200 presented by INFRA Resolutions will kick off this week’s racing action on Monday at 8PM ET, while the premier Firecracker 400 presented by INFRA Resolutions will begin at the same time on Wednesday. Live broadcasts of both races can be seen on Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, and YouTube.