By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
After taking advantage of the misfortune of others, Logitech G Altus driver Matt Danson dominated the eRacr Roval Racing Series at the virtual Texas Motor Speedway Road Course Combined circuit.
Danson took the lead in his virtual No. 30 VRS / Logitech G Altus Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE on lap 10. That was after both polesitter Michael Gonzales and outside polesitter Matt Bussa went off course. The Melbourne, Australia native relinquished the lead while pitting during the halfway break.
Matt Taylor in the B Class division briefly took the lead before Liam Sheen captured the top spot. Sheen, like Gonzales and Bussa before him, slid off course on lap 33. That cycled the lead back to Danson who never looked back. The A Class driver cruised to a 6.423 second overall victory over Sheen. James D. Gibson claimed the final spot on the A Class Podium
“This is the first time I had seen the track,” admitted Danson. “I went to bed at 6:00 a.m. and slept for about two hours. I snoozed that for as long as I could. Felt like I was on another planet. Slowly but surely, I got my head around what was going on and where everything was. It kind of just came to me. The tire wear, the drop off was massive, and that played into the deal.”
The battle in the B Class division came down to Taylor and Brian Szabelski. The driver of the virtual No. 85 NihonTiger Chevrolet Camaro SS took the top spot in class on the final lap. As Szabelski and Taylor exited the infield road course, the No. 85 had a better drive off, handing Szabelski the victory. Harry Grindell claimed the final spot on the B Class Podium.
“I was just saving tires that whole second run, that’s all that I was focused on doing,” explained Szabelski. “(Taylor)’s tires were burning up down the back. I knew if I kept it up that we would be racing pretty hard. Had a lot of patience, was just being smart about it. A lot of people were just overdriving turn three into the infield all night long.”
Pure excitement and passion from @NihonTigerLP winning the opening round of the eRacr Roval Racing Series B Class, with a last lap pass!
— eRacr.gg (@eRacr_gg) July 19, 2021
The C Class drivers were a pleasant surprise. David Grantham and Brandon Paunetto both climbed up the running order, despite battling with the other two classes. Grantham completed a Team Chevy sweep of the three classes, beating Paunetto for the top spot in the virtual No. 6 Chevrolet Silverado. Caleb Breece was the final C Class podium finisher.
“Apparently I’m some new fangled, newfound road racer,” joked Grantham. “I was abysmal at this a year ago when I got into iRacing after all of those years on NR2003 and just putting up with road courses. I put a fair amount of practice in. A track like this, there’s no markers. You’ve just got to get into a rhythm, like my qualifying lap, and managed to get a decent time. When I got into race mode, it was just get all the butterflies out and get down to business.”
Both Bussa and Gonzales ultimately crashed out of the inaugural eRacr Roval Racing Series event. Post-race, Gonzales joked that he had forgotten that they were racing the oval when he crashed into a tire barrier on the backstretch.
eRacr commentator David Schildhouse traded his microphone for a steering wheel in this series. As a driver in the A Class, he started 10th overall and finished ninth overall, seventh in class.
Also competing in the series is eNASCAR journalist and FTF Racing League promoter Justin Melillo. The sim racing veteran is in the B Class division in the Roval Racing Series. Melillo started 19th and finished 24th.
The eRacr Roval Racing Series is the latest in a string of events promoted by eRacr. It joins fellow Parker Kligerman and Landon Cassill promoted events, the Firecracker 400 and Carnomaly 500, as well as the eRacr associated event, the Hard to Drive 300. The eRacr Roval Racing Series will compete over the course of six weeks on six ‘underutilized’ rovals. Next on the schedule is the roval at the virtual Pocono Raceway.
1. 30-Matt Danson (A) , 2. 02-Liam Sheen (A) , 3. 82-James D Gibson (A) , 4. 42-Aaron Smith II (A) , 5. 24-James Weitendorf (A) , 6. 63-Chris Henion (A) , 7. 85-Brian Szabelski (B) , 8. 8-Matt Taylor (B) , 9. 20-David Schildhouse (A) , 10. 6-David Grantham (C) , 11. 5-Brandon Paunetto (C) , 12. 70-Harry Grindell (B) , 13. 28-Caleb Breece (C) , 14. 77-Riley Dunn (C) , 15. 07-Gary Weaver (B) , 16. 16-Ben McDonnell (B) , 17. 31-Larry Ohrn (B) , 18. 98-Travis Skrumeda (C) , 19. 999-Joe Selby (B) , 20. 13-Phillip Bupp (B) , 21. 26-DG Swiss (C) , 22. 1-Dustin Ping (C) , 23. 74-Jeremy Breault (C) , 24. 53-Justin Melillo (B) , 25. 54-Billy Davison (C) , 26. 3-Vinnie McDonnell (C) , 27. 71-Stacy Hunter (C) , 28. 49-Arthur Rymer (B) , 29. 22-Brandon Watkins (C) , 30. 36-Tyler Stilwell (C) , 31. 93-Joshua Chin (A) , 32. 72-Michael Gonzales (A) , 33. 44-Lucas Cram (A) , 34. 75-Matt Bussa (A) , 35. 17-Cole Woody (A) , 36. 21-Thomas Fensler (C)  DNS.
Lead Changes: Six among six drivers.
Lap Leader(s): Michael Gonzales 1-7, Matt Bussa 8-9, Matt Danson 10-23, Matt Taylor 24, Joshua Chin 25, Liam Sheen 26-32, Matt Danson 33-43.
Laps Led: Matt Danson 25, Michael Gonzales 7, Liam Sheen 7, Matt Bussa 2, Joshua Chin 1, Matt Taylor 1.
Caution Flags: One for Three Laps.
Margin of Victory: 6.423 seconds.
Time of Race: One hour, one minute, 23.058 seconds
Average Speed: 95.829 MPH.
Pole Winner: 72-Michael Gonzales (A), One minute, 17.970 seconds (105.271 MPH).
Fastest Lap: 75-Matt Bussa (A), One minute, 19.127 seconds (103.732 MPH).
Class Designation: A (NASCAR Cup Cars), B (NASCAR Xfinity Cars) C (NASCAR Camping World Trucks).
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by Seth Eggert / Kickin’ the Tires