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NASCAR esports series nabs big viewership, so Fox will keep airing races

So many people tuned in amid the coronavirus outbreak that Fox agreed to air the entire eNASCAR iRacing Pro invitational Series.

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Real-world racers take their talents to the digital world.

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Major sporting events remain on hiatus while countries grapple with the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. In lieu of actual sports, numerous people have turned to a not-so-mainstream form of competition, however: esports.

In the motorsports world, NASCAR is all aboard after Fox aired the inaugural race in its eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. Fox said in a Tuesday announcement that viewership was so high that it'll air the entire virtual racing series on the Fox broadcast network.

The network said, after combing through data, the first race quickly became the most-watched esports event broadcast on television with 903,000 viewers on Fox Sports. The virtual race also became the most-watched broadcast on the network since sports leagues went on hiatus starting March 12. There isn't exactly a huge amount of fresh sports programming available at the moment.

Although fans didn't get to see the real machines race around the track, it sure felt like a tried-and-true NASCAR broadcast. Commentators Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds commentated the race from the NASCAR studio, and Clint Bowyer, a NASCAR Cup Series champ, handled "in-car" commentary. Perhaps it gave fans a little sense of regularity in these irregular times -- maybe even a little comfort.

Get ready for the second round in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro invitational Series. It'll air this Sunday at a virtual Texas Motor Speedway with some real-life pro drivers competing, including Danny Hemlin of Joe Gibbs Racing.

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