For the second time in the 2023 season, XSET’s Casey Kirwan is an eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series winner.
After an early scuffle with the virtual Lady in Black which saw his 2011 Tony Stewart throwback Chevrolet sustain damage to the right side, the 2022 series champion managed his tires and pulled some strategy to take the lead in the middle of the race. After a pair of restarts with drivers on differing tire strategies, Kirwan was able to separate himself from the pack and hold off a late charge from William Byron eSports’ Nick Ottinger in the closing laps.
The win is the fifth of Kirwan’s career, which has now hit 100 total starts since his debut in the series back in 2018. He ties both JR Motorsports’ Michael Conti and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Bobby Zalenski at two wins on the season after eight races. Tucker Minter with Team Dillon eSports and Steven Wilson with Stewart-Haas Racing are the other two winners this year, both sitting with one apiece.
Throwback night started with Charlotte Phoenix driver Graham Bowlin on the pole position, but after three laps, William Byron eSports’ Matt Bussa was able to take the early control. On Lap 7, Kirwan was involved in a crash with the other Charlotte Phoenix driver, Femi Olatunbosun, as well as Joe Gibbs Racing’s Daniel Faulkingham.
Kirwan elected not to pit and fix the damage. Post-race, Kirwan said he was more worried that he slid the tires, but that turned out to be a non-issue when he fought his way into the top five before green flag pit stops.
Before pit stops, Ottinger had taken control from his teammate Bussa, but after, Kirwan and Bowlin managed to leap frog into the top spots around Ottinger, Conti and Bussa. On a differing strategy was Jim Beaver eSports’ Malik Ray, who opted to pit late, with just about 40 laps remaining, in hopes to catch a caution at the right time.
When he emerged from the pits, he took his lap back, but then went into a super save mode, where the leader Kirwan was trapped, in a sense, on lesser tires. That allowed Bowlin, Ottinger, and the rest of the front runners to accordion back in.
A second caution a few laps later laid the groundwork for Ray to attempt his strategy. He and his Jim Beaver eSports teammate Garrett Lowe started on the front row on their older tires, while the row behind had Zalenski and eRacr’s Collin Bowden on only two fresh tires. Bowlin and Kirwan were back in the third row on four new tires.
Right before a quick third and final caution, Ray had taken the lead, Zalenski moved into second, and Bowlin and Kirwan had moved up a row. On that final restart, Ray could not hold off Kirwan. Ottinger struggled to get by Ray on the bottom, but eventually did as the field sorted itself behind. Ottinger was able to close in, but ran out of time as Kirwan took the checkers.
With another multi-time winner on the season, those currently looking to get into the eNASCAR Playoffs on points can breathe a little easier. Only six races remain in the 2023 regular season, but if there is a new winner in every remaining week, those without a win could find themselves on the outside looking in.
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series results from Darlington Raceway were as follows:
|2||6||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron eSports||120||-0.333||18||29.022||35|
|3||10||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||120||-1.674||1||29.114||34|
|4||1||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||120||-3.108||3||29.159||33|
|5||28||7||Malik Ray||Jim Beaver eSports||120||-4.401||17||29.380||32|
|7||4||97||Matt Bussa||William Byron eSports||120||-5.068||36||29.300||30|
|8||21||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||120||-5.507||0||29.288||29|
|9||29||33||Tucker Minter||Team Dillon eSports||120||-5.557||0||29.299||28|
|10||11||3||Jordy Lopez||Team Dillon eSports||120||-5.612||5||29.320||27|
|11||2||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas Racing||120||-5.813||0||29.279||26|
|12||8||11||Parker White||Tony Kanaan Esports||120||-5.959||0||29.297||25|
|14||23||34||Allen Boes||Front Row Motorsports||120||-7.201||0||29.160||23|
|15||39||46||Jimmy Mullis||Rise eSports||120||-7.250||0||29.287||22|
|16||19||38||Michael Cosey Jr||Front Row Motorsports||120||-7.291||0||29.361||21|
|17||13||17||Kaden Honeycutt||RFK Racing||120||-7.618||0||29.293||20|
|18||20||40||Dylan Ault||LETARTE eSports||120||-8.134||0||29.240||19|
|19||5||27||Cody Byus||Elliott Sadler eSports||120||-8.184||0||29.397||18|
|21||24||1||Darik Bourdeau||Elliott Sadler eSports||120||-10.085||0||29.152||16|
|22||22||36||Brandon McKissic||LETARTE eSports||120||-10.703||0||29.422||15|
|23||12||20||Wyatt Tinsley||Kansas City Pioneers||120||-11.371||0||29.471||14|
|24||31||75||Zack Novak||Rise eSports||120||-11.747||0||29.609||13|
|26||32||77||Ryan Doucette||Pittsburgh Knights||120||-11.895||0||29.368||11|
|27||16||43||Femi Olatunbosun||Charlotte Phoenix||120||-13.105||0||29.516||10|
|28||37||31||Derek Justis||Kansas City Pioneers||120||-13.314||0||29.431||9|
|29||35||2||Corey Vincent||Pittsburgh Knights||120||-14.668||0||29.429||8|
|30||18||66||Tyler Garey||Tony Kanaan Esports||120||-15.324||0||29.324||7|
|32||30||15||Garrett Lowe||Jim Beaver eSports||120||-15.971||3||29.464||5|
|33||25||88||Kevin King||JR Motorsports||120||-16.671||0||29.323||4|
|35||17||51||Donovan Strauss||Williams eSports||120||-23.330||0||29.295||2|
|36||27||6||Timmy Holmes||RFK Racing||120||-23.932||0||29.357||1|
|37||9||41||Dylan Duval||Stewart-Haas Racing||120||-27.225||0||29.303||1|
|38||3||54||Daniel Faulkingham||Joe Gibbs Racing||119||-1L||0||29.522||1|
|39||7||55||Vicente Salas||Williams eSports||101||-19L||0||29.567||1|
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series points through eight rounds are as follows:
- Michael Conti, 244, 2 wins
- Nick Ottinger, 230
- Casey Kirwan, 216, 2 wins
- Graham Bowlin, 211
- Tucker Minter, 207, 1 win
- Jordy Lopez Jr., 206
- Malik Ray, 199
- Michael Cosey Jr., 199
- Bobby Zalenski, 189, 2 wins
- Keegan Leahy, 172
- Garrett Manes, 166
- Steven Wilson, 157, 1 win
In two weeks, the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series returns with a Memorial Day weekend classic at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Race coverage will start on Tuesday, May 30 at 9 p.m. ET at eNASCAR.com/live. The Countdown to Green, now presented by Wendy’s, will kick things off at 8:30 p.m. ET.