By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
In a move reminiscent of Regan Smith’s Southern 500 win, Danny Hansen stayed out on old tires to win the eNASCAR iRacing Road to Pro Series at Texas Motor Speedway.
With six laps to go in the scheduled distance, Steven Wilson clipped the grass in the quad-oval and broke loose. As his truck walked up the track, Wilson clipped Jarrett Liebert. The contact sent the polesitter spinning into the wall, bringing out the caution.
While Wilson’s Total Advantage Motorsport teammate Allen Boes led the bulk of the field down pit road, two drivers stayed out. Danny Hansen, in the Melon Man brand Ford F-150, moved into the lead with Adam Gilliland taking the second spot. The timing of the caution pushed the race into overtime.
On the restart, Hansen carefully got up to speed while Gilliland spun his tires. That allowed the Total Advantage drivers to swarm the independent drivers. At the same time, Eddie Kerner was trapped behind Gilliland. Fortunately for Hansen, the caution waved forcing the race into a second attempt at overtime.
The second attempt was the most dramatic of the three attempts at overtime. Once again, Total Advantage swarmed Hansen. And, once again, the caution waved when Wilson broke loose. This time he clipped Gilliland in front of the field. Multiple trucks were involved including Sam Adams, Mitchell deJong, and Garrett Manes.
On the third and final attempt at overtime, Hansen got his best restart of the night. He pulled ahead of Boes entering turn one. As the Total Advantage driver pulled alongside, a race-ending caution waved. Kevin King spun in the back of the pack, handing Hansen the victory. Femi Olat, Kerner, and Briar LaPradd completed the top-five.
“It’s awesome, feels like when we won the DWC (eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series) race in 2013,” admitted Hansen. “It’s a huge accomplishment with all of the craziness, seeing the eSports stuff taking off. Nice to be back on top in a way.
“Honestly, we thought we were in trouble when everyone came in behind us. I thought a lot more people would stay out. We were running good before, I would have been happy with fourth, but we weren’t so confident when everybody came down pit road.”
Seth DeMerchant, Donovan Strauss, Drew Faryniarz, Garrett Konrath, and Jake Matheson rounded out the top-10.
The bulk of the race was under the green flag. Boes, Olat, and Wilson traded the lead several times. The main challenge the trio had came during the two green flag pit cycles. However, the draft proved to be too powerful to be able to break away from the field.
With the victory, Hansen is now fifth in the Road to Pro standings. His cushion over the cutoff is now over a full race, 400-points. Hansen is still 606-points behind leader Wilson, before drop weeks are included.
The battle for the cutoff (not including drop weeks) tightened as Zack Nichols holds the position. Ahead of him are Michael Gonzales, Brad Wright, and Isaac Gann. Nichols’ gap back to Nickolas Shelton is only 19-points. Dylan C Jones is another three points back in 23rd.
Next for the eNASCAR iRacing Road to Pro Series is a visit to Martinsville Speedway in two weeks.
1. Danny Hansen , 2. Allen Boes , 3. Femi Olat , 4. Eddie Kerner , 5. Briar LaPradd , 6. Seth DeMerchant , 7. Donovan Strauss , 8. Drew Faryniarz . 9. Garrett Konrath , 10. Jake Matheson , 11. Cassey Tucker , 12. Michael Gonzales , 13. Brian Mercurio , 14. Derek Justis , 15. Garrett Manes , 16. Kevin King , 17. Daniel Faulkingham , 18. Zack Nichols , 19. Bryan Blackford , 20. Jesse Atchison , 21. Kaden Honeycutt , 22. Michael Fenlason , 23. Dylan C Jones , 24. Ryan Doucette , 25. Anthony Burroughs , 26. Mitchell deJong , 27. Sam Adams , 28. Steven Wilson , 29. Adam Gilliland , 30. Will Norton , 31. Jarrett Liebert , 32. Jose Solis Jr. , 33. Carson Hocevar .
Lead Changes: 16 among 11 drivers.
Lap Leader(s): Jarrett Liebert 1-2, Femi Olat 3-55, Mitchell deJong 56, Derek Justis 57, Kevin King 58, Jesse Atchison 59-60, Bryan Blackford 61-68, Casey Tucker 69, Allen Boes 70-101, Derek Justis 102-103, Mitchell deJong 104, Seth DeMerchant 105-107, Casey Tucker 108-118, Femi Olat 119-125, Steven Wilson 126-130, Allen Boes 131-135, Danny Hansen 136-154.
Laps Led: Femi Olay 61, Allen Boes 37, Danny Hansen 19, Casey Tucker 12, Bryan Blackford 8, Steven Wilson 5, Derek Justis 3, Seth DeMerchant 3, Jesse Atchison 2, Mitchell deJong 2, Jarrett Liebert 1, Kevin King 1.
Hard Charger: Allen Boes (+23)
Tough Break: Jarrett Liebert (-30).
Cautions: Six for 25 Laps.
Margin of Victory: Under Caution.
Time of Race: One hour, 43 minutes, 42.306 seconds.
Average Speed: 133.648 MPH.
Pole Winner: Jarrett Liebert, 29.075 seconds (185.727 MPH).
Fastest Lap: Donovan Strauss, Lap 106, 29.210 seconds (184.868 MPH).
Strength of Field: 7,148 average iRating.
Full Road to Pro Rundown: Danny Hansen (Top Split), Brandon Hauff (Second Split), Collin Bowden (Third Split), Zack Lindgren (Fourth Split), Scott Wheeler Jr. (Fifth Split), Blake Viken (Sixth Split), Kris A Walker (Seventh Split), Steven R Gale (Eighth Split), Chad Whitt (Ninth Split).