Steven Wilson extended his reign as the winningest driver in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series in 2022 by winning at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway on Tuesday (Oct. 11) night.
The win was Wilson’s fourth of the season and clinched his spot in the Championship 4.
“I got to thank everyone who has gotten me to this point,” Wilson said. “It’s just so awesome to be racing in Charlotte in two weeks.”
Clutch. 👌 pic.twitter.com/oisB4siYDY
— Stewart-Haas Esports (@SHR_eSports) October 12, 2022
“It’s crazy, I don’t think it has soaked in yet,” Kirwan said. “To have a chance to top the season off with a championship is something I’ll never forget, and hopefully, we’ll come out on top.”
The racing was intense right from the drop of the green flag, with three-wide racing throughout the pack. Kirwan got out in front of the fray by taking the lead from the pole and leading the opening 16 laps in No. 95 XSET Chevrolet.
The first caution came out for a Darik Bourdeau spin on the backstretch. On the ensuing restart, Kirwan took the lead back from Malik Ray, who stayed out while everyone else pitted.
However, Kirwan only held the top spot for a lap before Wilson passed him for the point on lap 22 in his No. 10 Smithfield/Stewart-Haas eSports Ford. Twelve laps later, the second yellow of the evening came out due to a spin on the frontstretch by Briar LaPradd. Seven cars stayed out on the following round of yellow flag pit stops.
Dylan Ault brought the field back to green on lap 39, but he lost the lead later that lap to Zalenski and his No. 18 Interstate Batteries/Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. The lead continued to swap among the playoff drivers, with Wilson and Mitchell deJong taking turns out front as the raced moved past the halfway point.
The race settled into a long green flag run that forced the field to pit under green-flag conditions. The green stayed out until lap 94, when Parker Retzlaff hit the wall in No. 6 RFK Racing Ford for the third caution of the night. This prompted another round of pit stops under the caution for fresh tires. Kirwan came on pit road the leader, but Wilson had a faster two-tire pit stop to beat him off pit road.
The restart came with just two laps to go in regulation, but the green would not stay out long. The yellow waved for the fourth time in the race due to an accident involving multiple cars, most notably playoff contender Garrett Lowe in his No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford.
This set off the first eNASCAR overtime. Like the end of regulation, the field didn’t make it out of turn 2 before the yellow came back out, this time for a wreck involving Vicente Salas and Logan Clampitt.
The second eNASCAR overtime wound up being the last one, as Wilson got a good launch off the final restart and held off Michael Guest to take the checkered flag. Behind him, a last-lap wreck involving playoff drivers Bowlin in the No. 48 Phoenix Racing Toyota and Nick Ottinger in the No. 25 William Byron eSports Chevrolet mixed up the playoff picture.
“The first half of the race did not go well for me,” Guest said. “Luckily, we went green to the end there, and we were able to save our tires and get back out front.”
Odds & Ends
- Paint Schemes of the Week: Several drivers and teams brought some colorful new livery to Homestead-Miami Speedway. Corey Vincent’s No. 3 Austin Dillon eSports Chevrolet and Ault’s No. 40 Letarte eSports Chevrolet both sported vivid paint schemes advertising new meal and drink combos available for a limited time at Wendy’s based on the hit Cartoon Network/Adult Swim show Rick and Morty.
— Dylan Ault (@dylanault42) October 11, 2022
Two races left on the year and we have @HomesteadMiami tonight. Just tryna close out the season with some good runs but nvm that, look at this car!
— Corey Vincent (@CVincent34) October 11, 2022
- Honorable Mention Paint Scheme: Zack Novak’s No. 5 Rise eSports/Sunoco Chevrolet was decked out in a Miami Vice-themed paint job for the race at Homestead-Miami.
— Zack Novak (@znovak15) October 11, 2022
- During the Countdown to Green pre-race show, it was announced that the Coca-Cola iRacing Series championship trophy will now be known as the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Championship Trophy, commemorating Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s contributions and dedication to iRacing. Earnhardt won the inaugural Coca-Cola iRacing Series race back in 2010.
This one's for @DaleJr! 🏆
We're proud to announce the eNASCAR Coca-Cola @iRacing Series Championship trophy has been renamed in Dale's honor.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) October 12, 2022
- William Byron, NASCAR Cup Series driver and iRacing Series team owner, was the grand marshal for the race, giving the command to start engines.
The thrilling 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season concludes with the championship race at the virtual Phoenix Raceway on Tuesday, Oct. 25. The Championship 4 drivers will race in front of a live audience at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., with Earnhardt presenting the trophy to the champion.
— eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series (@eNASCARCocaCola) October 6, 2022
About the author
Andrew Stoddard joined Frontstretch in May of 2022 as an iRacing contributor. He is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College and the University of Richmond. He is a high school history teacher and cross country/track & field coach for his day job.