Images via Justin Melillo
Channeling his inner Lightning McQueen with a new number and a big race in Los Angeles, XSET driver Casey Kirwan kicked off the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season with a big win in the exhibition Clash from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The driver of the #95 Chevrolet survived extensive beating and banging throughout the night, going from second place in his heat race and sixth on the grid to lead 37 laps and take home the victory in the series’ official preseason event.
Both the quarter-mile oval built within the Coliseum and the NASCAR Cup Series Next Gen cars competing on it were designed with help from iRacing, with extensive testing by the eNASCAR drivers a key factor in determining the track’s final shape, so Tuesday night’s action served as a fitting payoff to those collaborative processes. The event kicked off with four heat races where four cars advanced from each, followed by a 50-lap last chance qualifier that took six more cars to the 120-lap main event.
And if Tuesday night was any indication of what Sunday’s real-world Clash will look like, the fans are in for a thrill.
Vicente Salas, Jimmy Mullis, Graham Bowlin, and Keegan Leahy were the four heat winners, but in a wildly unpredictable feature race, none of them finished in the top 15. The on-track contact had escalated as the night went on and drivers got more comfortable with the racing conditions and each other, with more than a few spins determining who would advance to the main and who would go home early, but the final took some of that to the next level. In fact, the contact that ended Salas’ hopes of victory came as the caution was flying, when the spun car of Kollin Keister was trying to straighten out.
The issues for the top four opened the door for Michael Conti, second place finisher in the first heat, to lead more than half of the race. But shortly after the final restart with 40 laps to go, Kirwan forced his way past Conti and never looked back. 2021 Championship 4 driver Mitchell deJong finished second for 23XI, while JR Motorsports rookie Briar LaPradd, Williams Esports rookie Donovan Strauss, and 2020 series champion Nick Ottinger of William Byron eSports completed the top five.
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Clash feature results were as follows:
|13||22||31||Garrett Manes||Chevrolet||119||-1 L||0||13.862||0|
|14||7||2||Liam Brotherton||Chevrolet||119||-1 L||0||13.934||0|
|15||15||17||Kaden Honeycutt||Ford||118||-2 L||0||13.901||0|
|16||17||41||Dylan Duval||Ford||78||-42 L||0||13.892||0|
|17||11||75||Matt Bussa||Ford||61||-59 L||0||14.114||0|
|18||4||45||Keegan Leahy||Toyota||59||-61 L||0||14.037||0|
|19||21||43||Kollin Keister||Toyota||46||-74 L||0||14.043||0|
|20||3||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Toyota||28||-92 L||2||13.798||0|
|21||1||19||Vicente Salas||Toyota||28||-92 L||13||13.823||0|
|22||2||46||Jimmy Mullis||Chevrolet||15||-105 L||0||13.864||0|
The first points-paying round of the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series sees drivers return to Daytona International Speedway on February 15. The race will stream live at 9PM ET at eNASCAR.com/live and across NASCAR and iRacing social media channels. Conti won last year’s Daytona opener as the Big One happened in his rear view mirror coming off of Turn 4. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit www.iracing.com.