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Kickin The Tires

Poulin edges out Botelho in Firecracker 200

Photo by SETH EGGERT for KICKIN' THE TIRES / iRacing

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

After avoiding the mayhem, Jake Poulin narrowly edged out Justin Botelho for the win in the eRacr Firecracker 200.

When the white flag waved, Twitch streamer Botelho and iRacing Production Assistant Poulin were running just outside the top-five. All of that changed on the backstretch. A massive accident between Trevor Perry, Nicholas Morse, Mike Rasimas and others saw several cars go airborne.

Botelho made a hard left and dove through the grass in his virtual No. 20 Fort Worth Screen Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Somehow, he kept control of his car and rejoined the racing surface of the virtual Daytona International Speedway.

Poulin on the other hand drove through the wreck. In a move that could have been pulled out of Days of Thunder, which debuted in theaters 30 years ago, the No. 20 Papyrus Chevrolet Monte Carlo disappeared into the carnage. Seconds later, he emerged unscathed.

With Botelho losing momentum while he cut the grass, Poulin had plenty to spare. The duo drag-raced to the finish. Poulin swung to Botelho’s outside exiting turn four. The crossed the line in a photo finish with Poulin ahead by a mere 0.013 seconds.

“I thought I had a shot, but when I was coming off of turn two I had to check up, and thought, ‘my only hope is if they all wreck,’ and here we are,” an amazed Poulin explained. “It means so much. I tried so hard to get into the Firecracker 400 in qualifying, couldn’t get it done there. I’m just at a loss for words right now.

“The obvious move was to dive to the apron, and he was going to be ready to block that. I felt like I had enough of a run to where I could swing by on the outside, and I want to thank him for not blocking me as hard as he did. I earned a lot of respect for Justin Botelho today.”

Poulin drove the Papyrus car in the Firecracker 200 because the race had a throwback feel. However, it was not the first time that an iRacing employee has competed in cars adorned with the throwback colors. iRacing Executive Vice President Steve Myers has driven Papyrus sponsored cars in both the LeafFilter Replacements and Monday Night Racing leagues.

“Papyrus is actually the precursor company to iRacing which is the company that I am so proud to work for,” explained Poulin. “I just thought that it was appropriate since we’re running a throwback race here to bring out the old logo.”

Andy Hunter, Steph Marinak, and Kyle Trudell rounded out the top-five. Dylan D Thomas, Peter Bennett3, Craig Arvanites, Barrett Polhemus, and Marshall C Gabell completed the top-10.

The 200-mile race presented by INFRA Resolutions was slowed nine times for incidents. The biggest incident of the race took place on lap two when polesitter Mitchell Hunt spun in front of the field. The wreck was reminiscent of the ‘big one’ of the 1980s as drivers spun trying to slow down. In total, 35 iRacers pitted on the ensuing caution.

Gilles Chatelain, who was the story of the Prelims, was also wiped out in an incident. Chatelain broke loose and collected Monon Rahman and others later in the race. Rahman, who helped organize the George Floyd 100 several weeks ago continued on and finished 15th.

One of the more incredible incidents of the night came with under 10 laps to go. eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series driver, and race leader, Blake Reynolds broke loose in front of the field. At the same time, Nicholas Morse also broke loose. The duo set off a chain reaction that wiped out the lead pack and set up the three-lap run to the finish.

The Firecracker 200 was organized by Landon Cassill and Parker Kligerman. The main event, the Firecracker 400 is at 8:00 pm Eastern on Wednesday, July 1. The race has a $2,500 purse up for grabs. Poulin earned $500 for his win in the Firecracker 200.

The Finish

1. Jake Poulin [4] ($500), 2. Justin Botelho [22], 3. Andy Hunter [15], 4. Steph Marinak [18], 5. Kyle Trudell [33], 6. Dylan D Thomas [20], 7. Peter Bennett3 [26], 8. Craig Arvanites [14], 9. Barrett Polhemus [24], 10. Marshall C Gabell [37], 11. Brian C Mullin [21], 12. Alex Kolonics [8], 13. Mike Rasimas [3], 14. Blake Reynolds [2], 15. Monon Rahman [28], 16. Nick Holland [31], 17. Trevor Perry [40], 18. Brett Punkari [39], 19. Nicholas Morse [9], 20. Keith Jeffrey [17], 21. Cristian Sanford [30], 22. Will Weber [27], 23. Colton J. Harvey [34], 24. Kenny Kibbey [32], 25. Blake McCandless [6], 26. Devon Henry [23], 27. Aron MacEachern [38], 28. Cayden Rush [29], 29. Brennan Murdza [35], 30. Nathan Rabideau [7], 31. Mitchell Hunt [1], 32. Garrett Smithley [41], 33. Michael Jeanes [16], 34. Gilles Chatelain [19], 35. Shane Iliff [36], 36. Tom Abromaitis [11], 37. Gary Sexton [13], 38. Gary Cronenwett [12], 39. Aaron Smith II [10], 40. Matt Everhart [5], 41. Logan Hagerman [25].

Lead Changes: 19 among nine drivers.

Lap Leader(s): Blake Reynolds 1-6, Alex Kolonics 7, Blake Reynolds 8-11, Alex Kolonics 12, Blake Reynolds 13, Nicholas Morse 14, Blake Reynolds 15-26, Nicholas Morse 27-28, Mike Rasimas 29-30, Blake Reynolds 31-40, Nicholas Morse 41-43, Blake Reynolds 44-55, Alex Kolonics56, Nicholas Morse 57-62, Cayden Rush 63-64, Blake Reynolds 65-73, Peter Bennett3 74-77, Trevor Perry 78, Craig Arvanites 79, Jake Poulin 80.

Laps Led: Blake Reynolds 54, Nicholas Morse 10, Alex Kolonics 5, Peter Bennett3 4, Cayden Rush 2, Mike Rasimas 2, Jake Poulin 1, Trevor Perry 1, Craig Arvanites 1.

Hard Charger: Kyle Trudell (+28)

Cautions: Seven for 21 laps.

Margin of Victory: 0.013 seconds.

Time of Race: One hour, 19 minutes, 57.583 seconds.

Average Speed: 150.076 mph.

Pole Winner: Mitchell Hunt, 42.850 seconds (210.035 mph).

Fastest Lap: Kyle Trudell, Lap 44, 42.920 seconds (209.693 mph).

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