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Kickin The Tires

Mitchell deJong dominates Road to Pro at Richmond

Photo by SETH EGGERT for KICKIN' THE TIRES / iRacing

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

As the eNASCAR iRacing Road to Pro Series travelled to the virtual Richmond Raceway, Mitchell deJong shed his road course ringer status.

The Red Bull athlete and sim racer for Coanda Simsport took the lead during a round of pit stops under caution and never looked back. deJong was aided in his defense of the lead with multiple late cautions. Michigan winner Steven Wilson narrowly missed taking the lead when the caution waved.

On ever successive caution, deJong’s Virtual Racing School machine kept the Total Advantage Motorsports drivers at bay. Allen Boes, Femi Olat, and Wilson took turns hounding the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval winner. That is until they had to compete with each other. That allowed deJong and Andrew Faryniarz to sneak away to take first and second.

“I can’t believe I won that race, it’s insane” admitted deJong. “Back before the Roval I was actually racing this track in the ARCA car, just to farm iRating. I didn’t realize it, but that helped me figure out the line. It makes testing so much easier. I was excited for this one because you can try to make a little more defense as a driver compared to Michigan where it’s full throttle.

“I was looking forward to it, been prepping for the Le Mans 24, the real-life race that they’re putting on, for the last few weeks. With that said, I had no idea the result would be this good. Keegan helped me with a setup for qualifying and I definitely under-drove it. But I still put us third and starting up front here is huge.

“Just tried to save the tires, pick the battles wisely. I had a few contacts here and there, but I’m glad I didn’t cause anything major. This was a heck of a race, it was so intense at the end.”

Boes, Dylan C. Jones, and Wilson rounded out the top five. Briar LaPradd, Derek Justis, Cody Byus, Olat, and Garrett Manes completed the top-10.

Polesitter Kaden Honeycutt appeared on route to a top-10 finish. Late race contact with Olat sent the ARCA Menards Series driver sliding into the outside wall off turn two. Honeycutt slipped to 18th by the checkered flag.

Honeycutt was not the only driver to be hindered by incidents. Only 22 of the 34 iRacers were on track at the end of the 200-lap event.

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series driver Carson Hocevar was swept up in the first of several back-to-back ‘big ones.’ Justis, Byus, Darik Bourdeau, Braden Boulos, Donovan Strauss, and several others saw their race end in multi-truck accidents.

One person that the multi-truck accidents benefitted was Road to Pro points leader Zack Nichols. Prior to the halfway point, he lost connection to the server. Nichols reconnected and climbed from 32nd to 22nd by the checkered flag, salvaging 111 points in the process.

Road to Pro is back in action June 23 at the virtual Darlington Raceway.

The Finish

1. Mitchell deJong [3], 2. Andrew Faryniarz [14], 3. Allen Boes [10], 4. Dylan C. Jones [32], 5. Steven Wilson3 [11], 6. Briar LaPradd [13], 7. Derek Justis [21], 8. Cody Byus [7], 9. Femi Olat [8], 10. Garrett Manes [23], 11. Brian Mercurio [22], 12. Seth DeMerchant [17], 13. Treyten Lapcevich [15], 14. Jake Matheson [25], 15. Thomas Axsom [27], 16. Casey Tucker [34], 17. Will Norton [4], 18. Kaden Honeycutt [1], 19. Ryan Kuhn [20], 20. Bryan Blackford [28], 21. Darik Bourdeau [30], 22. Zack Nichols [16], 23. Braden Boulos [31], 24. Donovan Strauss [2], 25. Jarrett Liebert [5], 26. Dillon Raffurty [26], 27. Daniel Roeper [29], 28. Michael Fenlason [12], 29. Brandon McKissic [19], 30. Carson Hocevar [18], 31. Jacob Hall [33], 32. Adam Gilliland [6], 33. Blake Near [9], 34. Jordy Lopez Jr. [24].

Lead Changes: Three among three drivers.

Lap Leader(s): Kaden Honeycutt 1-43, Mitchell deJong 44-90, Cody Byus 91-94, Mitchell deJong 95-200.

Laps Led: Mitchell deJong 153, Kaden Honeycutt 43, Cody Byus 4.

Hard Charger: Dylan C. Jones (+28)

Cautions: Nine for 44 laps.

Margin of Victory: 0.940 seconds.

Time of Race: One hour, 36 minutes, 45.643 seconds.

Average Speed: 93.013 mph.

Pole Winner: Kaden Honeycutt, 21.837 seconds (123.643 mph).

Fastest Lap: Allen Boes, Lap 181, 22.089 seconds (122.323 mph).

Strength of Field: 7,253 average iRating.

Road to Pro Winner Rundown: Mitchell deJong (top split), Justin Lisonbee (second split), Collin Bowden (third split), Max R Brady (fourth split), Bryan P Johnson (fifth split), Johnathan Shipman (sixth split), Duane Hunt (seventh split), Tray James (eighth split), Curtis Critchley (ninth split), Calum Farley (10th split), Andrew Carter (11th split), Jacob B Reeves (12th split).

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