Going into Tuesday night’s eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series action at Pocono Raceway, XSET’s Casey Kirwan and RISE Esports’ Zack Novak filled the only two remaining spots on the playoff grid open for winless drivers. It was only fitting, then, that when the checkered flag fell, they’d be the ones deciding who would get the next guaranteed spot.
Kirwan got himself into the lead with just a handful of laps to go, but a succession of eNASCAR Overtime attempts would allow Novak to get past and control the final restart. Still, Kirwan would strike back, taking advantage of a better run to the inside coming off the final corner to pull alongside Novak on the frontstretch. The duo would bounce off one another in the charge to the finish line, with the final bounce going Kirwan’s way by just one hundredth of a second.
It was the second straight year that a driver would punch their playoff ticket in Pocono after surviving multiple overtime attempts, after Bobby Zalenski did the same last year. The first half of the race stayed clean and green, with Taylor Hurst, Nick Ottinger, Kirwan, and Mitchell deJong among those spending time in the lead and every driver pitting under green. The cautions didn’t begin until Lap 39, when Liam Brotherton and Ray Alfalla made contact, shuffling the field once again as a handful of drivers stayed out for track position.
As the laps continued to tick down, more cautions would ensue as drivers attempted to fan out on Pocono’s wide straightaways. With drivers going four-wide or more, the slightest mistakes caused several multi-car incidents that left drivers to try and salvage decent finishing positions with wounded racecars. “The Tricky Triangle” wasn’t particularly picky about its victims, either, as past champions and series rookies alike would fall victim to the carnage.
But with the next flag calling the race, the field would make sure the third overtime restart was the charm. Novak would hold the point initially as Kirwan pulled aside, while defending champion Keegan Leahy would push Novak to the white flag and give Novak the edge into Turn 1. Kirwan would slot in between them and hold onto the draft until Turn 3, putting it right on the yellow line as Novak chose a higher line through the corner. From there, the two drivers provided an answer to the iconic real-world Darlington finish between Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch in 2003, with the driver on the inside line once again securing the top spot in a photo finish.
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series results from Pocono Raceway were as follows:
|2||28||5||Zack Novak||Rise eSports||72||0.010||5||53.548||35|
|4||2||20||Donovan Strauss||Williams eSports||72||-0.299||0||53.641||33|
|6||12||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||72||-0.379||0||53.490||31|
|7||16||7||Malik Ray||iRacing Motorsports||72||-0.471||0||53.220||30|
|8||21||9||Michael Guest||Jim Beaver eSports||72||-0.552||0||53.138||29|
|9||29||79||Femi Olatunbosun||Clint Bowyer Racing||72||-1.067||0||53.575||28|
|10||17||31||Garrett Manes||Elliott Sadler eSports||72||-1.309||0||53.628||27|
|11||6||88||Briar LaPradd||JR Motorsports||72||-1.470||0||53.435||26|
|12||18||41||Dylan Duval||Stewart Haas Racing||72||-1.619||0||53.734||25|
|13||35||21||Garrett Lowe||Wood Brothers Racing||72||-1.660||0||53.651||24|
|14||24||36||Brian Mercurio||Letarte Esports||72||-1.912||1||53.674||23|
|15||30||15||Blake Reynolds||Jim Beaver eSports||72||-2.466||0||53.761||22|
|16||40||75||Matt Bussa||Mode Motorsports||72||-2.510||0||53.800||21|
|18||5||46||Jimmy Mullis||Rise eSports||72||-2.887||0||53.614||19|
|19||13||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||72||-2.916||0||53.477||18|
|20||32||16||Blade Whitt||Wood Brothers Racing||72||-2.965||0||53.494||17|
|21||33||40||Dylan Ault||Letarte Esports||72||-2.975||0||53.667||16|
|22||9||55||Allen Boes||Space Station Gaming||72||-3.075||0||53.645||15|
|23||34||2||Liam Brotherton||Elliott Sadler eSports||72||-3.142||0||53.660||14|
|24||4||24||Cody Byus||Mode Motorsports||72||-3.274||0||53.701||13|
|25||19||43||Kollin Keister||Charlotte Phoenix||72||-3.343||0||53.656||12|
|26||31||6||Parker Retzlaff||Roush Fenway Keselowski||72||-3.390||0||53.594||11|
|27||39||14||Nickolas Shelton||Clint Bowyer Racing||72||-3.382||0||53.808||10|
|28||37||12||Derek Justis||iRacing Motorsports||72||-6.655||4||53.730||9|
|29||26||51||Ray Alfalla||Joe Gibbs Racing||72||-13.036||1||53.640||8|
|30||8||97||Logan Clampitt||William Byron eSports||72||-17.178||0||53.700||7|
|31||7||3||Corey Vincent||Team Dillon Esports||72||-17.937||0||53.594||6|
|33||38||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||69||-3L||0||53.665||4|
|34||3||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron eSports||67||-5L||12||53.638||3|
|35||27||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart Haas Racing||67||-5L||0||53.474||2|
|36||36||19||Vicente Salas||Williams eSports||62||-10L||0||53.714||1|
|37||1||33||Taylor Hurst||Team Dillon Esports||60||Disqualified||16||53.712||1|
|39||22||17||Kaden Honeycutt||Roush Fenway Keselowski||15||DNF||0||55.211||1|
|40||23||54||Kyle Peddle||Space Station Gaming||13||DNF||0||53.957||1|
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoff grid through 12 rounds is as follows:
- Steven Wilson, 2 wins/314 points
- Nick Ottinger, 2 wins/282 points
- Michael Conti, 2 wins/264 points
- Casey Kirwan, 1 win/324 points
- Matt Bussa, 1 win/317 points
- Graham Bowlin, 1 win/275 points
- Femi Olatunbosun, 1 win/273 points
- Garrett Lowe, 1 win/245 points
- Ray Alfalla, 1 win/204 points
- Zack Novak, 284 points
The 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series All-Star Race is the next event on the calendar, with past race and pole winners taking to the streets of Chicago in celebration of the NASCAR Cup Series holding its first-ever street race next year. Broadcast coverage begins on Tuesday, August 2 at 8:30PM ET with Countdown to Green before the 9PM ET green flag. Live coverage of all the action can be seen at enascar.com/live.
For more information on the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, visit www.enascar.com or www.iracing.com/enascar. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit www.iracing.com.
Images via Justin Melillo