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NASCAR driver loses real-life sponsor after he 'rage quit' during virtual iRacing event

STAFF AND WIRE REPORT
Bubba Wallace

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Race sponsors are the lifeblood of every NASCAR team.

Now, one Cup driver has apparently lost a real-life sponsor after he "rage quit" during a virtual iRacing event on Sunday.

William Byron easily won the iRacing event Sunday at virtual Bristol Motor Speedway, where NASCAR would have been really racing before the coronavirus pandemic caused sports to shut down.

Byron's victory, however, was easily overshadowed by Bubba Wallace's actions.

Wallace, like most of the drivers, streamed his gaming experiences for fans to eavesdrop on the action and the arguing. Clint Bowyer was the in-race reporter and again delivered a hilarious performance.

“I got Bubbaed!” Bowyer shouted after he was moved out of line by Wallace. “I need a beer really badly.”

Wallace appeared to “rage quit” the race after the incident. “That’s why I don’t take this (crap) serious. Peace out,” Wallace said on his gaming stream.

After fans ripped him on Twitter, he laughed at how seriously some are taking iRacing with his response.

“I ruined so many peoples day by quitting … a video game,” he wrote. “Bahaha. A video game. Damn quarantine life is rough.” He also admitted to rage quitting in a second post.

Blue-Emu, one of Wallace’s sponsors, was apparently not pleased. “Bye bye Bubba. We’re interested in drivers, not quitters,” said a tweet on the account of the topical pain reliever cream. The company added a second tweet using the image of Donald Trump uttering his “You’re Fired” catchphrase from “The Apprentice.”

Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson fired his spotter less than 20 laps into the race after falsely being told he was clear of another car, only to crash. Erik Jones had internet issues that caused him to miss qualifying, and Daniel Suarez was parked for the second consecutive week and was joined this time by Kyle Larson after the two tangled on track.

Suarez was not happy, complaining that Larson should have been disqualified as he was last week “and by the way our ‘racing incident’ was him pushing me to the apron… if this was real life my amigo would get his but kicked,” he tweeted.

Teams and drivers are doing anything they can to keep the sport moving as all incoming revenue has frozen. Landon Cassill signed a sponsor for his iRacing and had the Blue-Emu logos featured prominently behind him as he raced. He also gave fans a tour of his borrowed rig in a plug to help the simulator company sell the setup.

The iRacing has been a savior for the motorsports industry – IndyCar launched a series a week after NASCAR, and Saturday’s second race was aired on NBC Sports – and NASCAR’s first two televised events both set eSports records. More than 1 million people watched last week when Fox made the race available to affiliates and also aired it nationally on its cable channel.