William Byron eSports’ Nick Ottinger capitalized on the last of a flurry of late-race restarts on Tuesday night to score the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series victory at Kansas Speedway, securing the second guaranteed spot in this year’s Championship 4 in the process.
One of the front-runners all night, the playoff contender finally made the decisive pass during the second overtime to take the lead from Jim Beaver eSports’ Michael Guariglia and guarantee his shot at the $100,000 title.
Unlike the previous 1.5-mile race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kansas was a mostly clean affair, cycling through two rounds of green flag pit stops. Denny Hamlin Racing’s Keegan Leahy dominated much of the race, leading the most laps and appearing like a lock to either secure the victory or at least have a strong points day.
A select group of drivers, led by Guariglia, Mode Motorsports’ Phil Diaz, and G2 Esports’ Jarl Teien, chose to run an alternate pit strategy, extending their time on track as much as possible and hoping to either make up spots with fresher tires or stay out under a late caution.
That caution came for contact between Brandon Kettelle and Justin Bolton in the closing laps, and Guariglia, Diaz, and Teien led the field with two to go in the scheduled distance. An immediate incident, with Bob Bryant getting the worst of it, sent the race to overtime.
Calamity struck once again before the field could take the white flag on the first attempt, with Leahy getting the worst of it; the Canadian took heavy damage in Turns 3 and 4 while the yellow flag flew.
All of the mayhem set things up perfectly for Ottinger. A pit road miscue meant the veteran driver had been a few laps short on fuel, but the first caution allowed him to both top off and get new tires. On the second overtime restart, Ottinger finally found a way around Guariglia as the field wrecked behind them in Turns 1 and 2.
Guariglia’s older tires meant he would fade to fifth on the final lap, with Burton Kligerman Esports’ Logan Clampitt, Virtual Racing School’s Bobby Zalenski, and Williams Esports’ Ryan Luza also finding a way around.
“I knew they were on old tires, and they were hot,” Ottinger said of the drivers in front of him. “Once we got past 20 laps, I knew they’d be difficult if they did anything. There was a lot of hard work by our team, and I’m so excited to have a shot at the title this year with William Byron eSports. We’re going to Homestead, and I’m excited!”
Full results from eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series action at Kansas Speedway were as follows:
|4||27||53||Ryan Michael Luza||Ford||144||0||-0.611||29.343||37|
|17||17||14||Brandon Hayse Kettelle||Ford||144||1||-5.569||29.396||25|
|19||4||18||Graham A. Bowlin||Toyota||144||0||-6.934||29.385||22|
|20||20||9||Eric J. Smith||Ford||144||0||-7.130||29.450||21|
|34||9||36||Chris Shearburn||Chevrolet||143||0||-1 L||29.318||7|
|35||5||88||Brad Davies||Chevrolet||143||0||-1 L||29.468||6|
|36||23||23||Casey Kirwan||Toyota||138||0||-6 L||29.370||5|
|37||14||17||Kollin Keister||Ford||138||0||-6 L||29.305||4|
|38||34||54||Alex McCollum||Chevrolet||124||0||-20 L||29.543||3|
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoff points through 18 of 20 races are as follows:
- Bobby Zalenski, 2089 (1 win)
- Nick Ottinger, 2085 (1 win)
- Jimmy Mullis, 2080
- Ryan Luza, 2076
- Garrett Lowe, 2068
- Keegan Leahy, 2057
- Ray Alfalla, 2055
- Michael Conti, 2033
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoff Round of 8 concludes next Tuesday at Texas Motor Speedway, with playoff drivers facing one last chance to stave off elimination with a win or by piling up enough points to earn a championship race berth.