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SPORTSBRIEFING

Virtual racing live on Fox

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Fresh off its initial experiment in televising simulated NASCAR racing, Fox Sports will broadcast the entire eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series season beginning with the virtual Texas Motor Speedway race at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The race will be shown on broadcast Fox television as well as FS1.

Sunday’s inaugural event drew 903,000 viewers. It was the most watched event on FS1 since the pandemic induced shutdown began on March 12. It was also the highest rated esports program in history.

Watch some old derbies

ESPN2 will broadcast an eight-hour Home Run Derby Classics marathon starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday. The 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 Major League Baseball home run derbies will be shown.

NASCAR hit with pay cuts

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR informed its staff Tuesday that pay cuts will be imposed across the company until the series returns to racing.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps announced the moves in a memo to employees, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press from a person who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The memo said series executives, including the presidents of NASCAR-owned tracks, will see a 25% reduction in salary, while all other employees will have their salary reduced by 20%. Budget expenses and capital improvements have also been frozen, and employees were told to use one week of vacation over the next five weeks.

“With the temporary postponement of our season and the impact of the coronavirus is having on every part of our business, we will have to adjust our operations in several significant ways,” Phelps wrote. “We are trying to minimize expenses until we can get back to doing what we do best — holding great race events for our fans.”

“These decisions are difficult but necessary for the health of our company as we work through this crisis and address the long-term business needs of our sport,” he added.

NASCAR is currently suspended until May 9, a span costing the series seven of its elite Cup Series races. Phelps has vowed all postponed races will be rescheduled. In the memo, he said the hope is that the cuts are temporary, but the situation will be revisited.

NASCAR was four races into the season — the longest in sports at almost 11 months — when the coronavirus brought the series to a halt.

Benjamin signs with 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent receiver Travis Benjamin.

A person familiar with the deal says the sides reached agreement on Tuesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn’t been announced. NFL Network first reported the agreement.

San Francisco also officially announced a deal to re-sign safety Jimmie Ward to a three-year contract worth a reported $28.5 million that had been agreed to last week. The Niners also announed a one-year deal to sign former Arizona linebacker Joe Walker to a deal that had been agreed to on Monday and that exclusive rights free agent tight end Ross Dwelley signed his one-year tender.

The 30-year-old Benjamin provides depth at receiver after Emmanuel Sanders left in free agency. San Francisco has Deebo Samuel set at one spot, Kendrick Bourne returning and Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd coming off injuries. The Niners also could use one of their two first-round picks for a receiver.

Benjamin entered the league as a fourth-round pick by Cleveland in 2012 and was on the Browns in 2014 when 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was the team’s offensive coordinator.

Benjamin played only five games last year for the Chargers because of a quadriceps injury. His best year came in 2015 for the Browns when he had 68 catches for 966 yards and five TDs.

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