By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
After a hard-fought battle, Tucker Minter earned a dominating win in the 2021 running of the Hard to Drive 300 at the virtual Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Minter led over 130 laps of the opening 155 lap green flag run. The driver of the virtual No. 10 Dale Jr Foundation Driven to Give / Nexxus eSports Chevrolet Impala pitted seven laps prior to the caution. However, his dominance allowed him to remain on the lead lap, having pitted with a 15-second lead. The beneficiary of the first caution of the race was Donovan Strauss, who Minter would spar with for the remainder of the race.
On the restart, Minter and Strauss dueled for control of the lead. Just as the Nexxus driver took the lead, the virtual No. 51 Spacestation Racing Ford sent the Chevrolet up the track in Turn 1. About 20 laps later, Minter caught back up to Strauss and returned the favor and took the lead.
Another caution with seven laps to go in the scheduled distance allowed Zach Carr to attempt to jump to the front row. With a two-tire stop, Carr struggled, spinning his tires. However, so did Strauss, who inadvertently spun eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series driver Zack Novak, setting off a chain reaction accident. That pushed the race into the first of four overtime attempts.
On each overtime attempt, Minter and Strauss dueled side-by-side. The third overtime attempt saw ‘the big one.’ eNASCAR drivers Michael Guest and Anthony Burroughs were wiped out in the accident, along with Thomas Lewandowski and others.
When the race went green for the final time, Minter launched early. That left Strauss to battle with Briar LaPradd. Minter cruised to a 0.153 second victory over LaPradd. Strauss, polesitter Corey Carpenter, and Novak completed the top-five.
“Glad to win this race, finally,” admitted Minter. “Felt like I should have won this race last year. It’s nice to come back, it was really good. I could tell that (Strauss) was pushing really hard on the short run. He was just wearing his tires out going down the straightaway. Felt like I was still a little quicker in the corners, but he was pushing so hard that I could tell that he would fall back to me.
“I didn’t want to get roped into him fighting with me and backing up into Parker White, Tyler Dubosh, and Mitchell Hunt back there. Felt like I raced him clean for the first half of it, then I cleared him. He got back to my inside, and he ran me up the hill, almost took me out. I wasn’t happy with that, so I gave him something to think about going into Turn 3. He came back and tried to dump me. I gave him exactly what he had given me.
“Just sat there and waited for him to ‘put it in reverse,’ and he did. I was feeling pretty good, saw them go to the top. Knew that was probably going to be a little quicker, but I was comfortable on the bottom. Felt like I had the pace anyway. Stayed there until I really had (to move up).”
Dustin Montgomery, NASCAR Cup Series driver Anthony Alfredo, Max Brady, Eric J Smith, and Andy Hunter rounded out the top-five. Guest took the checkered flag in 16th. Burroughs was out of the race in 35th.
Other notables included Monday Night Racing Rowdy Energy Pro Series regular Gabe Wood in 25th. Midwest Sim Racing Association regular Braxton DeWeese finished 34th. FTF Racing Cup Series champion Tyler Garey blew a tire early and retired from the race in 40th.
The second annual Hard to Drive 300 once again featured the Gen 5 NASCAR Cup Series cars at the virtual Atlanta Motor Speedway. The tight setup and high tire wear left the iRacing drivers sweating throughout the 155-lap green flag run.
1. 10-Tucker Minter  ($100), 2. 36-Briar LaPradd  ($20), 3. 51-Donovan Strauss  ($20), 4. 30-Corey Carpenter , 5. 90-Zack Novak , 6. 12-Dustin Montgomery , 7. 015-Anthony Alfredo , 8. 57-Max Brady , 9. 8-Eric J Smith , 10. 11-Andy Hunter , 11. 95-Parker White , 12. 98-Presley Sorah , 13. 24-Collin Bowden , 14. 71-Mitchell Hunt , 15. 27-Zach Carr , 16. 9-Michael Guest , 17. 25-Ben D Bafford , 18. 88-Matt Spalding , 19. 16-Aron MacEachern , 20. 72-Chandler Parsons , 21. 84-Jon Adams , 22. 06-Spencer E Burns , 23. 86-Tyler Dubosh , 24. 1-Garrison Hogan , 25. 50-Gabe Wood , 26. 22-Alex Kolonics , 27. 17-Gilles Chatelain , 28. 74-AJ Henderson , 29. 31-Matt Bachman , 30. 999-Joesph Selby , 31. 94-William Logan , 32. 67-Conor Horn , 33. 23-Anthony Chrobak , 34. 15-Braxton DeWeese , 35. 62-Anthony Burroughs , 36. 35-Thomas Lewandowski , 37. 66-Justin R Smith , 38. 42-Carson Bowers , 39. 924-Jason Rajcok , 40. 26-Tyler Garey , 41. 89-Cole Woody , 42. 96-Benjamin Fanning  (Did Not Start).
Lead Changes: 12 among six drivers.
Lap Leader(s): Corey Carpenter 1, Tucker Minter 2-49, Mitchell Hunt 50-59, Tucker Minter 60-98, Donovan Strauss 99, Anthony Burroughs 100-101, Tucker Minter 102-147, Donovan Strauss 148-160, Tucker Minter 161, Donovan Strauss 162-179, Tucker Minter 180-188, Zach Carr 189-190, Tucker Minter 191-212.
Laps Led: Tucker Minter 165, Donovan Strauss 32, Mitchell Hunt 10, Anthony Burroughs 2, Zach Carr 2, Corey Carpenter 1.
Hard Charger(s): 90-Zack Novak (+33).
Caution Flags: Six for 23 Laps.
Margin of Victory: 0.153 seconds.
Time of Race: Two hours, 18 minutes, 11.749 seconds.
Average Speed: 141.747 MPH.
Pole Winner: 30-Corey Carpenter, 31.577 seconds (175.571 MPH).
Fastest Lap: 30-Corey Carpenter, Lap 212, 31.577 seconds (175.571 MPH).
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by Seth Eggert / Kickin’ the Tires.