Stewart-Haas eSports driver Steven Wilson entered the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoffs as the winningest driver of the regular season, but he headed into Tuesday’s Championship 4 cutoff race at Homestead-Miami Speedway needing another victory to be sure of his chance to battle for the series’ $100,000 championship at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte later this month. Finishes of 10th at Bristol and 31st at Talladega had him on the outside of the cutoff looking in, needing to fight for one of the three remaining open spots after Bobby Zalenski and Joe Gibbs Racing punched their ticket with a win at Talladega.
But despite a number of late race cautions that extended the race into overtime, Wilson wouldn’t be denied. The dominant driver on the night, he qualified seventh, worked his way into the lead for the first time on Lap 22, and led a race-high 50 laps to earn the win and his first career Championship 4 berth. He hung on to beat Jim Beaver eSports’ Michael Guest and XSET’s Casey Kirwan, the polesitter and other top lap leader on the night with 36 laps out in front.
Kirwan’s back-to-back top-three finishes made him the clear-cut third Championship 4 driver, as each driver’s best two out of three scores in the playoff round were kept. But behind him, the fourth driver would be anyone’s guess. With a more than 50-lap green flag run from Lap 37 to Lap 93, drivers would be tasked with managing fuel mileage and tires to get to the closing laps. Back-to-back cautions, first for RFK Racing’s Parker Retzlaff and then for a multi-car wreck that collected playoff driver Garrett Lowe of Wood Brothers Racing, would send the race into overtime.
After the first overtime attempt went awry, the field would take the white flag on the second attempt to make the race official. While the leaders took the checkered flag unscathed, a massive wreck coming off of the final corner would collect much of the field, with JR Motorsports’ Michael Conti narrowly evading the mess as William Byron eSports’ Nick Ottinger, Charlotte Phoenix’s Graham Bowlin, Clint Bowyer Racing’s Femi Olatunbosun, and Matt Bussa of Kyle Long’s Mode Motorsports were among those caught in the carnage.
When all was said and done, Bowlin would survive the battle of attrition and secure the final playoff spot over Conti by three points thanks to his finishes of 11th at Bristol and fifth at Talladega. No playoff drivers aside from Wilson or Kirwan managed to take two top-10s on the round, and only five of them managed a top-five: the four who will be heading to Charlotte, and 23XI’s Mitchell deJong, who finished fourth at Homestead.
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series results from Homestead-Miami Speedway were as follows:
|1||7||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart Haas Racing||110||0.000||50||33.016||40|
|2||12||9||Michael Guest||Jim Beaver eSports||110||-0.162||0||33.018||35|
|5||6||43||Kollin Keister||Charlotte Phoenix||110||-0.913||0||33.219||32|
|6||27||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||110||-0.969||0||33.188||31|
|7||35||51||Ray Alfalla||Joe Gibbs Racing||110||-1.241||0||33.231||30|
|8||18||5||Zack Novak||Rise eSports||110||-1.265||0||33.192||29|
|9||33||36||Brian Mercurio||Letarte Esports||110||-1.448||0||33.211||28|
|10||4||41||Dylan Duval||Stewart Haas Racing||110||-2.111||0||33.257||27|
|11||16||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||110||-2.310||6||33.033||26|
|12||5||79||Femi Olatunbosun||Clint Bowyer Racing||110||-2.340||0||33.257||25|
|13||20||55||Allen Boes||Space Station Gaming||110||-2.352||0||32.998||24|
|14||39||54||Kyle Peddle||Space Station Gaming||110||-2.357||0||33.357||23|
|17||21||46||Jimmy Mullis||Rise eSports||110||-2.609||0||33.244||20|
|18||29||17||Kaden Honeycutt||Roush Fenway Keselowski||110||-2.645||0||33.108||19|
|19||3||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron eSports||110||-2.704||0||33.360||18|
|20||23||40||Dylan Ault||Letarte Esports||110||-2.732||4||33.190||17|
|21||2||19||Vicente Salas||Williams eSports||110||-2.790||0||33.265||16|
|22||25||2||Liam Brotherton||Elliot Sadler eSports||110||-2.785||0||33.112||15|
|24||28||16||Blade Whitt||Wood Brothers Racing||110||-2.891||0||33.372||13|
|25||19||97||Logan Clampitt||William Byron eSports||110||-2.948||0||33.193||12|
|26||14||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||110||-2.958||0||33.436||11|
|27||15||88||Briar LaPradd||JR Motorsports||110||-2.994||0||33.164||10|
|28||36||21||Garrett Lowe||Wood Brothers Racing||110||-3.134||0||33.324||9|
|29||31||31||Garrett Manes||Elliot Sadler eSports||110||-3.513||0||33.367||8|
|31||11||7||Malik Ray||iRacing Motorsports||110||-4.125||4||33.318||6|
|32||13||33||Taylor Hurst||Team Dillon Esports||110||-4.209||0||33.246||5|
|33||32||24||Cody Byus||Mode Motorsports||110||-4.387||0||33.442||4|
|34||22||75||Matt Bussa||Mode Motorsports||110||-5.902||0||33.218||3|
|35||9||20||Donovan Strauss||Williams eSports||110||-7.433||0||33.261||2|
|36||10||15||Blake Reynolds||Jim Beaver eSports||104||-6L||0||33.288||1|
|37||38||12||Derek Justis||iRacing Motorsports||99||-11L||0||33.430||1|
|38||8||3||Corey Vincent||Team Dillon Esports||99||DNF||0||33.248||1|
|39||30||6||Parker Retzlaff||Roush Fenway Keselowski||91||-19L||0||33.266||1|
|40||40||14||Nickolas Shelton||Clint Bowyer Racing||12||DNF||0||33.488||1|
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Championship 4 drivers are as follows:
- Steven Wilson, Stewart-Haas eSports (4 wins, 8 top-5s, 11 top-10s)
- Casey Kirwan, XSET (1 win, 7 top-5s, 11 top-10s)
- Graham Bowlin, Charlotte Phoenix (1 win, 7 top-5s, 7 top-10s)
- Bobby Zalenski, Joe Gibbs Racing (1 win, 4 top-5s, 7 top-10s)
The 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season concludes on October 25 from the virtual Phoenix Raceway, with the Championship 4 drivers traveling to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte to compete in a live finale. The eNASCAR broadcast team of Evan Posocco, Steve Letarte, and Alan Cavanna will be on hand to call the action, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. will present the all-new series championship trophy that bears his name to the champion. Broadcast coverage begins on Tuesday, October 25 at 8PM ET with an extended edition of Countdown to Green before the 9PM ET green flag. Live coverage of all the action can be seen at enascar.com/live.
Images via Justin Melillo