By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
The hot streak continued for Dylan Ault as he scored his second eNASCAR Contender iRacing Series victory at the virtual Darlington Raceway.
Fresh off wins at Dover International Speedway in eNASCAR competition and the third annual Fake 500, Ault had the perfect strategy at ‘The Track Too Tough to Tame.’ He put the virtual No. 40 CertainTeed Chevrolet Camaro SS on the pole and never looked back. Throughout the entire first run of the 140-lap race, the Sacramento, Calif. native kept Briar LaPradd, Kaden Honeycutt, Ashton Crowder, and Blade Whitt at bay.
With LaPradd on a two-stop strategy, his virtual No. 35 Ledford Billiard Supply Ford Mustang inherited the lead when Ault pitted. On a one-stop strategy, the Lowline Racing driver reclaimed the lead with just under 50 laps to go. Slowly, his lead diminished. However, the high tire wear prevented LaPradd, Kollin Keister, and others from closing in.
Lapped traffic slowly Ault’s pace in the closing laps. LaPradd cut the lead from over three seconds to just over two seconds. The Lockdown Racing driver ran out of time, finishing second, 2.153 seconds behind Ault. Keister, Honeycutt, and Crowder completed the top-five.
“I was really hoping that it was going to be a one stop race because I feel like I had a better chance of winning the race if it was a fuel strategy race,” admitted Ault. “My crew chiefs were all just calculating it a couple of days before the race. It was actually closer than I thought. Briar, I didn’t think, was going to be two seconds back at the end of this race. I just can’t believe it worked, it’s unbelievable, crazy to have back-to-back wins on fuel strategy.”
Whitt, Nickolas Shelton, Allen Boes, Liam Brotherton, and Anthony Burroughs rounded out the top-10. Garrett Lowe ran the fastest lap of the race on lap 50, 29.602 seconds, 166.124 MPH. Lowe took the checkered flag in 11th.
Despite a handful of incidents, the race at Darlington went caution-free. The only other NASCAR-sanctioned race to go caution-free in the history of Darlington Raceway was the 1963 Southern 500.
Among those caught up in incidents were Kyle Peddle, Femi Olat, Blake McCandless, and Ryan Doucette. All four drivers finished outside the top-25 in the running order.
Unofficially, six drivers have clinched a spot on the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series grid. Ault, Honeycutt, LaPradd, Keister, Blake Reynolds, and Donovan Strauss each earned enough points to unofficially guarantee their 2022 eNASCAR berth. For Keister, it marks his return after being relegated for the 2021 season. Reynolds reclaims his spot after finishing outside the top-20 in points in 2021.
Nine drivers, unofficially, were mathematically eliminated from 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series contention. Of the nine eliminated from contention, Crowder, Brad Davies, Doucette, Jake Matheson, and Brian Schoenburg were on the 2021 grid. That guarantees at least five new drivers for the 2022 grid. Also eliminated were Seth DeMerchant, Daniel Eberhardt, Christian Pedersen, and Casey Tucker.
Currently, another five eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series drivers from the 2021 grid are on the outside, looking in. Burroughs, Derek Justis, Jake Nichols, Zack Nichols, and Chris Shearburn have one more race to move back into the top-20 in points. Otherwise, they two will be relegated out of the series in 2022.
The season finale for the eNASCAR Contender iRacing Series is Tuesday, December 21 at 9:00pm EST at the virtual Texas Motor Speedway.
1. 40-Dylan Ault , 2. 35-Briar LaPradd , 3. 8-Kollin Keister , 4. 10-Kaden Honeycutt , 5. 98-Ashton Crowder , 6. 7-Blade Whitt , 7. 5-Nickolas Shelton , 8. 21-Allen Boes , 9. 19-Liam Brotherton , 10. 62-Anthony Burroughs , 11. 6-Garrett Lowe , 12. 46-Collin Bowden , 13. 36-Chris Shearburn , 14. 17-Santiago Tirres , 15. 74-Taylor Hurst , 16. 4-Jordy Lopez Jr , 17. 41-Brian Mercurio , 18. 66-Blake Reynolds , 19. 31-Derek Justis , 20. 51-Donovan Strauss , 21. 27-Cody Byus , 22. 1-Malik Ray , 23. 57-Seth DeMerchant , 24. 24-Jake Nichols , 25. 04-Darik Bourdeau , 26. 53-Brandon McKissic , 27. 99-Michael Cosey Jr , 28. 54-Kyle Peddle , 29. 14-Justin Bolton , 30. 18-Femi Olat , 31. 42-Parker Retzlaff , 32. 90-Daniel Eberhardt , 33. 28-Casey Tucker , 34. 15-Blake McCandless , 35. 77-Ryan Doucette , 36. 44-Zack Nichols .
Lead Changes: Six among six drivers.
Lap Leader(s): Dylan Ault 1-69, Liam Brotherton 70-71, Briar LaPradd 72-86, Kaden Honeycutt 87, Kollin Keister 88-92, Nickolas Shelton 93, Dylan Ault 94-140.
Laps Led: Dylan Ault 116, Briar LaPradd 15, Kollin Keister 5, Liam Brotherton 2, Kaden Honeycutt 1, Nickolas Shelton 1.
Hard Charger(s): Kollin Keister (+22).
Caution Flags: None.
Margin of Victory: 2.153 seconds.
Time of Race: One hour, 13 minutes, 56.984 seconds.
Average Speed: 155.165 MPH.
Pole Winner: 40-Dylan Ault, 28.902 seconds (170.147 MPH).
Fastest Lap: 6-Garrett Lowe, Lap 50, 29.602 seconds (166.124 MPH).
Strength of Field: 7,032 average iRating.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by Seth Eggert / Kickin’ the Tires.