John Gorlinsky sneaks through to win 2020 iRacing Coca-Cola Clash

Photo by Evan Posocco / iRacing

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

By doing his best James Buescher impression, John Gorlinsky earned William Byron eSports’ first victory in the eNASCAR iRacing Coca-Cola Series Coca-Cola Clash.

Gorlinsky may not have been up front at the end of the race, but he was in the right place at the right time. As contact on the backstretch on the final lap between Ray Alfalla and Casey Kirwan triggered a wreck that blocked the track, the No. 97 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was 16th.

After another 500 feet, contact with two other cars, and the outside wall, Gorlinsky found himself in the lead. He limped to the checkered flag to earn the maiden victory for William Byron eSports. It was a finish reminiscent to James Buescher’s 2012 NASCAR Xfinity Series win at Daytona International Speedway. All 38 cars were involved.

“I never thought I’d be passing from 16th to first going into turn three like that; obviously, that was pure luck,” said Gorlinsky. “I did the equivalent of closing my eyes and doing what I could to get through that, and somehow, I managed to pinball correctly off of everybody and get the job done.

“That was tons of fun, though. When you’ve been away from it for a while like I was, you forget how competitive this field was, but you realize it really quickly when you’re out there in a pack at Daytona and everyone is running basically the same speed. It’s chaotic.”

Prior to the final lap chaos, Gorlinsky was mired deeper in the pack. He positioned himself to be within the pack. When the field broke apart, Gorlinsky capitalized. He kept his foot to the floor and forced his way through the fire and flames.

“I made a mistake early on and shuffled myself to the back just to catch my breath and regroup … but on that last lap, you know the next flag is going to end it and you’ve got to go,” Gorlinsky noted. “I saw them starting to dice up down the backstretch and chose the line I thought I was going to need to get through that. I still can’t believe the way the whole thing shook out, but it’s a cool deal to win one again.”

Christian Challiner, Logan Clampitt, defending eNASCAR iRacing Coca-Cola Series Champion Zack Novak, and Bobby Zalenski also limped their way back to the line. Kollin Keister, who was leading at the time of the accident, failed to finish after the field cleanser. Nick Ottinger, who was second salvaged a 10th-place finish. At the time Malik Ray was third, he finished well outside the top-10.

The race was dominated by Ottinger, the other WBe driver. The 2018 eNASCAR iRacing Coca-Cola Series Champion lead 27 of the 50 laps after starting from the pole. He shared the lead with eight other drivers with a total of nine lead changes.

Much of the race at the virtual Daytona International Speedway was a constant two and three-wide battle. Keegan Leahy, Ottinger, and Steve Sheehan traded the lead throughout much of the early stages.

The finish:

John Gorlinsky, Christian Challiner, Logan Clampitt, Zack Novak, Bobby Zalenski, Steve Sheehan, Caine Cook, Alex McCollum, Jimmy Mullis, Nick Ottinger, Justin Bolton, Michael Conti, Jeremy R. Allen, Ray Alfalla, Dylan Duval, Michael Guest, Ryan Luza, Phillip Diaz, Bob Bryant, Garrett Lowe, Jake Nichols, Jarl Teien, Chris Overland, Keegan Leahy, Santiago Tirres, Graham Bowlin, Brandon Kettelle, Blake Reynolds, Casey Kirwan, Michael Guariglia, Corey Vincent, Matt Bussa, Malik Ray, Ashton Crowder, Kollin Keister, Eric J. Smith, Chris Shearburn, Nathan Lyon.

Lead Change(s): 21 between nine different drivers

Lap Leader(s): Nick Ottinger 1-2, Keegan Leahy 3, Nick Ottinger 4, Steve Sheehan 5, Nick Ottinger 6-9, Steve Sheehan 10, Nick Ottinger 11-15, Brandon Kettelle 16, Steve Sheehan 17, Nick Ottinger 18-32, Brandon Kettelle 33, Dylan Duval 34, Steve Sheehan 35-36, Garrett Lowe 37, Kollin Keister 38, Malik Ray 39, Kollin Keister 40-45, Malik Ray 46, Kollin Keister 47, Malik Ray 48, Kollin Keister 49, John Gorlinsky 50.

Laps Led: Nick Ottinger 27, Kollin Keister 9, Steve Sheehan 5, Malik Ray 3, Brandon Kettelle 2, Keegan Leahy 1, Dylan Duval 1, Garrett Lowe 1, John Gorlinsky 1.

Caution Flags: None for 0 laps

Average Race Speed: 192.719 mph

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