May 17 is the day NASCAR fans have been waiting for. That’s when action is set to resume with the NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina. Although the NASCAR world is excited things are ramping up again, races will resume without fans in attendance because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since NASCAR was put on hold, Drew Herring, the 37th-place finisher in the 2019 Cup Series standings, tried his hand at virtual racing. While being stuck at home, he participated in multiple iRacing events. iRacing is an online motorsports simulation platform that was founded in 2004. It is a well-known virtual racing platform around the world, and the current situation has made these virtual races more popular. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, NASCAR wanted to provide some form of action, so NASCAR, iRacing and Fox Sports joined forces for a solution to feed fans’ cravings. That solution brought us the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.
The Series consists of multiple weeks of heart-pounding action in the NASCAR world — in a virtual landscape. Multiple NASCAR drivers and dignitaries compete on the iRacing simulation platform until a champion is determined. From March 22 to May 9, drivers competed every Sunday at race venue replicas. The iRacing platform uses laser-scan technology to replicate each NASCAR track for an accurate depiction of the real thing. In addition, the Cup Series cars are also replicated, so drivers can feel as though they’re actually in the action.
While Herring didn’t get the nod for the Pro Invitational Series, he competed in numerous other iRacing events during the hiatus. One was the LeafFilter Replacements Series at virtual Talladega Superspeedway in April. Before a few of these events, Herring posted tweets on his thoughts going into the races, and he encouraged fans to tune in to watch. Before a LeafFilter Replacements event April 7, Herring had this to say about the race at Myrtle Beach Speedway: “Never figured this place out in real life. Hoping tonight at 9 something clicks virtually. Check it out on @iRacing twitch channel. #LeafFilterReplacements.” Herring finished in 5th place, so maybe there were a few things he figured out on the virtual track.
In another tweet a few days later, he had fun with a hypothetical question. A popular sports Twitter account, Barstool Racing, posted a tweet urging fans to pick their five favorite racetracks in the event that only five races were left in the NASCAR season in 2020. The tweet read, “Hypothetically, NASCAR says they’ll run 5 more races this season. you pick the tracks.” Accompanying the caption was a list of the 23 NASCAR tracks around the country. Herring posted his picks: Bristol, Sonoma, Martinsville, The Glen, Iowa.
In another tweet on April 14, he showed his support for short tracks. Truex Management Group, an athlete management, merchandising and creative marketing company, partnered with Burton Kligerman eSports to develop the 2020 Grand National Tour. The series consisted of four races on Wednesday nights through May 6. The races were broadcast online, and all proceeds helped to benefit the short tracks featured in the events. Herring was one of the drivers invited to participate. In his tweet about the tour, he showed his appreciation for the event and mentioned how he’s excited to race at a track he is familiar with. His Twitter post reads, “Pretty awesome series starting tomorrow night to help benefit some great short tracks. Excited to be able to race in it and especially get to do some racing at my old stomping grounds of @SoBoSpeedway57.” SoBo, formerly known as South Boston Speedway, is a short track that Herring knows well. It was that track that propelled his NASCAR career when he won the Late Model Championship in 2006 with nine victories in 17 races. In the following year, he captured another Late Model Championship with seven victories and 21 top-five finishes in 29 races.
Aside from the racetrack — virtual or not — Herring has been showing love for his family. In the past few months, he has posted Instagram photos of his two children. According to one caption, he seems to be doing fine in quarantine. In his most recent post, which shows both of his children with matching beanies, the caption reads, “Spending more time with these two. Yeah, I think I can find a way to cope with it. #WildMan #MonkeyMae.” A fellow NASCAR driver, Riley Herbst, commented on the post by writing, “#Quarantine Life.”
Herring’s most recent tweets consist of him preparing for LeafFilter Replacements iRacing events, trying to join the Pro Invitational Series, and joking about his eNASCAR profile photo. In a post on April 21, Herring said he thought the upcoming LeafFilter race would be a “wild one.” He said he was trying to improve on his fifth-place finish in the April 7 race. His tweet reads, “Going to be a wild one @TalladegaSuperS tonight in the #LeafFilterReplacements race. Hoping to avoid the mayhem and beat our 5th-place finish at dirty Myrtle last race. Catch it live @ 9 on @iRacing twitch channel.” Herring didn’t have a great day on the virtual track and ended up in 29th place.
A few days later on April 25, Herring tweeted about an iRacing event called Saturday Night Thunder at Talladega. “Looks like we’re going racing boys and girls. Going to be a wild one @TalladegaSuperS tonight for the #SaturdayNightThunder race on @iRacing. Hopefully I can avoid all the wrecks and grab a W tonight.” He finished in 21st out of 40 drivers. After the race, he posted another tweet that read, “Damn, almost got the win tonight in the #SaturdayNightThunder race. We had a big head of steam on that last lap but it was ended by a block quick. We’ll go back to work and get them next time.”
A more recent tweet showed Herring’s sense of humor. One NASCAR fan reached out to him about his eNASCAR lineup photo. According to the fan, Herring looks strange without a beard. The tweet from Scott Bradford reads, “@Drew_Herring bruh they showed your driver line up picture on enascar and you had no beard. please send them a new pic other than your middle school yearbook photo. drew herring with no beard is frightening.” Herring sent the fan a picture of himself — full beard — with the caption, “I sent them this. They declined and went with the other. What can you do? #SaturdayNightThunder.”
In a May 5 tweet, Herring seemed frustrated with how iRacing had been going for him. His post included pictures of his car being sent airborne on the virtual track. The post’s caption reads, “Seems to be the theme for me lately on @iRacing. Tides have to turn at some point. #AirBorne.” Herring finished the race in 29th place out of 42 drivers.
As the NASCAR Cup Series looks toward real-life racing again, there hasn’t been much talk about Herring’s plans. In 2019, he competed in his first Cup Series race, the Ford EcoBoost 400, and finished in 29th place. Are more races down the road? That is the $64,000 question.