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Denny Hamlin Tops Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Win 1st ENASCAR Pro Invitational IRace

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIMarch 22, 2020

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 08: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, stands on the grid before the NASCAR Cup Series FanShield 500 at Phoenix Raceway on March 08, 2020 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Denny Hamlin was driving donuts on the track, Dale Earnhardt Jr. just missed a first-place finish and Homestead-Miami Speedway was rocking during an intense final lap.

It was almost enough to forget it was all a simulation. 

Hamlin came out on top in the inaugural eNASCAR iRace, featuring drivers all connected to a simulator and racing each other to raise funds for charities related to the coronavirus pandemic. Hamlin, in particular, had said he'll donate $100 for each lap he led during the 100-lap race and another $5,000 if he won the whole thing. That money will go to help those in the Miami area, where the real Homestead is based. 

eNASCAR @NASCAR

Down to the wire! Try not to blow the CPU during your celebration, @dennyhamlin! https://t.co/YdiVCBuHgs

“It’s always fun when you win,” Hamlin said in a teleconference after the race via NBC Sports. “Regardless, it was a great event for the racing community and the NASCAR drivers to come together to put 20-some drivers together on such short notice. I think it definitely was a success.”

The race came down to a final stretch between Hamlin and Earnhardt Jr. with Hamlin pulling ahead in the final seconds as Timmy Hill finished third with Chase Briscoe in fourth and Garrett Smithley in fifth. 

Here's the best from NASCAR's exhibition: 

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Jay Busbee @jaybusbee

So I am enjoying this hyper-accurate simulation but it’s about time to bring some loops and flames and jumps and coconuts into this.

FOX: NASCAR @NASCARONFOX

Fan: "Will there be penalties for virtual fisticuffs after the race?" NASCAR's @odsteve: "Immediate bonus paid on the spot." 😂

Alex Bowman @AlexBowman88

Is this considered distracted driving? https://t.co/7I878OlWPj

Alex Bowman @AlexBowman88

Update: I have to pee. Finn may take over during the next caution. I’m sure that’ll come soon https://t.co/TQadkvIce2

FOX: NASCAR @NASCARONFOX

DALE EARNHARDT JR. LEADS LATE! #ProInvitationalSeries https://t.co/sUiDzl4JQr

Jay Busbee @jaybusbee

Junior the next time he sees Denny https://t.co/g5cDtsYG3s

The race featured a heavy-hitting lineup of NASCAR personalities including Bobby Labonte, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowki, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as part of the 35-car lineup.

Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds were all on the call for the Fox Sports 1 broadcast. 

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