By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Road racing veteran James Davison was in a league of his own in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series at the virtual Circuit of the Americas.
Davison scored the pole with ease in his virtual No. 15 ClubHouse Media Group / Skip Barber Racing School Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. The Rick Ware Racing driver took a defensive line entering turn one to keep Anthony Alfredo at bay. Davison was successful and pulled away.
Much like Mitchell deJong in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series the night before, Davison’s lead only increased. The Melbourne, Victoria native’s lead grew significantly faster however. Just 11 laps into the race, Davison’s lead over Alfredo was over 10 seconds.
The only time the 34-year-old was not in the lead was during the green flag pit cycle. Alfredo spent two laps out front in the virtual No. 38 MDS Ford Mustang before pitting. Davison’s lead increased to 16 seconds following the pit stops. When the checkered flag waved, he was over 18 seconds ahead of Alfredo.
“This is my wheelhouse, road course racing primarily,” Davison explained. “I have driven at the Circuit of the Americas a number of times, sat on the GT pole in IMSA in 2014, and raced in the SRO GT3 championship as well as the historic F1 support race with the 70s F1 cars. I knew the circuit. Obviously, I’ve done a couple of road courses with Joe Gibbs and Mario Gosselin in the Xfinity series.
“(It is) just being mentally disciplined to not overdrive it, look after the rear tires. That is something that you need to focus on doing and you get a lot of experience doing it in an underfunded situation. With Rick Ware, our cars have less of everything, less mechanical, aero, engine, brakes. Our cars are always fighting around more than the front running guys, top-25 cars.
“It’s such an important element, not overdriving, focusing on hitting your marks, and adapting to the tire fall off. They do a good job at that on iRacing to simulate the real-life deal.”
William Byron, Tyler Reddick, and Chris Buescher rounded out the top-five. Timmy Hill, Denny Hamlin, Josh Bilicki, Ross Chastain, and Michael McDowell completed the top-10.
Chastain and Daniel Suarez were the hard chargers of the race. Both drivers gained 21 positions from the drop of the green flag to the checkered flag.
Although there were not big incidents, several incidents either shook up the running order or ended the day for drivers. Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Aric Almirola all retired early.
Clint Bowyer attempted to pit after a late call from his colleagues in the Fox Sports 1 booth. Bowyer inadvertently turned into Davison who was putting the broadcaster a second lap down. Luckily, the virtual No. 15 Chevrolet was undamaged.
On the final lap, Hill twice made a move to pass Hamlin. Both times, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver moved to block. The second time, Hill spun the virtual No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry to take sixth-place.
iRacing has donated $5,000 to the winner of each eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series event charity of choice. For Davison, the charity of choice is the Greatest Generations Foundation.
“The Greatest Generations Foundation is who I have in mind,” explained Davison. “I actually met the owner. He is a fellow Australian ex-pat who was sitting in the grandstand at the Daytona road course race and, heard on the driver introductions starting 578 in the Rick Ware car at the very back of the grid, Australian James Davison. He was like, ‘Oh, wow. I didn’t know there was an Aussie in NASCAR anymore.’ He sent me an email.
“War history happens to be a good passion of mine and have a lot of respect for what the greatest generations did, World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The foundation looks to bring veterans back to the battlefields that they fought in and educate the newest generation of Gen Z and Millennials on what these men did to give us the life that we have today. So very much I would like the donation to go to the Greatest Generations Foundation.”
The next eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series event will feature the Next Gen car at the virtual Chicago Street Course.
1. 15-James Davison , 2. 38-Anthony Alfredo , 3. 24-William Byron , 4. 8-Tyler Reddick , 5. 17-Chris Buescher , 6. 66-Timmy Hill , 7. 11-Denny Hamlin , 8. 52-Josh Bilicki , 9. 42-Ross Chastain , 10. 34-Michael McDowell , 11. 5-Kyle Larson , 12. 18-Kyle Busch , 13. 12-Ryan Blaney , 14. 77-Justin Haley , 15. 99-Daniel Suarez , 16. 51-Garrett Smithley , 17. 14-Chase Briscoe , 18. 21-Matt DiBenedetto , 19. 3-Austin Dillon , 20. 20-Christopher Bell , 21. 41-Cole Custer , 22. 00-Quin Houff , 23. 48-Alex Bowman , 24. 23-Bubba Wallace , 25. 7-Corey LaJoie , 26. 19-Martin Truex Jr. , 27. 22-Joey Logano , 28. 43-Erik Jones , 29. 53-Joey Gase , 30. 78-Kyle Tilley , 31. 4-Kevin Harvick , 32. 1-Kurt Busch , 33. 87-Jesse Iwuji , 34. 79-Clint Bowyer , 35. 6-Ryan Newman , 36. 47-Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , 37. 10-Aric Almirola , 38. 2-Brad Keselowski , 39. 9-Chase Elliott .
Lead Changes: Two among two drivers
Lap Leader(s): James Davison 1-15, Anthony Alfredo 16-17, James Davison 18-32
Laps Led: James Davison 30, Anthony Alfredo 2
Hard Charger(s): 42-Ross Chastain and 99-Daniel Suarez (+21)
Caution Flags: None
Margin of Victory: 18.191 seconds
Time of Race: One hour, 13 minutes, 1.539 seconds
Average Speed: 90.077 mph
Pole Winner: 15-James Davison, 2:12.113 (93.356 mph)
Fastest Lap: 38-Anthony Alfredo, Lap 3, 2:13:861 (92.137 mph)
Feature Photo Credit: Photo by Justin Melillo