By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
After challenging for the lead early, a massive wreck just passed halfway allowed Chris Shearburn to cruise to victory at the virtual Kansas Speedway.
The LETARTE eSports driver battled with Ryan Luza for about 25 for the lead early in the race at Kansas. Shearburn edged out Luza for just one lap in the first green flag run of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series race at the virtual 1.5-mile oval.
Green flag pit stops shifted the lead from Luza to Shearburn. As the cycle ended, the Springfield, Ill. native had a comfortable lead over Luza and Logan Clampitt. A caution for John Gorlinsky and Bob Bryant forced everyone onto pit road.
The ensuing restart saw contact between Clampitt and Shearburn’s teammate, Bobby Zalenski. The virtual No. 83 Virtual Racing School Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE drifted through turn three before hooking right into the outside wall in front of the field. 17 cars were wiped out including Luza, defending eNASCAR champion Nick Ottinger, and many others.
Cruising to Victory
With the bulk of the contenders damaged or out of the race, Shearburn had a spirited battle with Isaac Gann on the restart. The Kligerman Sport driver traded the lead briefly with the virtual No. 36 ASUS North America / Republic of Gamers Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. However, Gann’s tires didn’t last, and he slipped back. Shearburn took the checkered flag with 1.838 seconds to spare over Keegan Leahy.
“This is huge, by far my biggest win ever, I can’t believe what we did tonight,” admitted Shearburn. “This is, by far, my best race ever. I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to pull off a pass [for the lead on Luza]. I got close a couple of times, was a lot closer than I thought I would be. Glad I tried to short pit to get in front of (Luza) and get clean air. That was key and it worked out. Got the clean air and was starting to pull away from him before the yellow.”
Shearburn becomes the seventh different winner in seven races this season. This is the longest streak of unique winners to start an eNASCAR season sine 2010.
Gann, Clampitt, and Graham Bowlin completed the top-five. Rounding out the top-10 were Michael Guest, Michael Conti, Blake Reynolds, Dylan Duval, and Nathan Lyon. After the wreck, polesitter Luza was credited with a 36th-place finish.
One driver, Blade Whitt, attempted to run the race on a one-stop strategy, like Bryant at Auto Club Speedway. Unfortunately, for Whitt, the caution for Bryant and Gorlinsky initially trapped him one lap down. The Clint Bowyer Racing driver rebounded to be the hard charger of the race, gaining 27 positions to finish 13th.
Duval ran a special paint scheme commemorating his 100th eNASCAR start. However, his celebration was quiet as he also took the opportunity to honor his late grandmother, putting her name on the side of his virtual No. 41 Stewart Haas Racing Fan Club Ford Mustang. After narrowly avoiding both incidents, he finished the race with momentum, inside the top-10.
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series now has a few weeks off. The eNASCAR Series returns to the virtual track on May 18 for their first trip to the virtual Circuit of the Americas. The 20-turn road course marks the first of three road course events in the next six races.
1. 36-Chris Shearburn , 2. 32-Keegan Leahy , 3. 44-Isaac Gann , 4. 97-Logan Clampitt , 5. 10-Graham Bowlin , 6. 9-Michael Guest , 7. 8-Michael Conti , 8. 66-Blake Reynolds , 9. 41-Dylan Duval , 10. 6-Nathan Lyon , 11. 21-Garrett Lowe , 12. 24-Jake Nichols , 13. 14-Blade Whitt , 14. 75-Matt Bussa , 15. 51-Ray Alfalla , 16. 77-Bob Bryant , 17. 3-Corey Vincent , 18. 1-Ashton Crowder , 19. 11-Malik Ray , 20. 79-Ryan Doucette , 21. 52-Jake Matheson , 22. 55-Vicente Salas , 23. 25-Nick Ottinger , 24. 88-Brad Davies , 25. 2-Garrett Manes , 26. 15-Caine Cook , 27. 37-Derek Justis , 28. 16-John Gorlinsky , 29. 90-Zack Novak , 30. 47-Brian Schoenburg , 31. 29-Zack Nichols , 32. 33-Taylor Hurst , 33. 67-Allen Boes , 34. 83-Bobby Zalenski , 35. 23-Mitchell deJong , 36. 4-Ryan Luza , 37. 38-Casey Kirwan , 38. 17-Steven Wilson , 39. 46-Jimmy Mullis , 40. 18-Femi Olat .
Lead Changes: 13 among nine drivers
Lap Leaders: Ryan Luza 1-17, Chris Shearburn 18, Ryan Luza 19-42, Zack Nichols 43, Zack Novak 44, John Gorlinsky 45, Bob Bryant 46, Matt Bussa 47, Blade Whitt 48-61, Chris Shearburn 62-89, Isaac Gann 90, Chris Shearburn 91, Isaac Gann 92-94, Chris Shearburn 95-134
Laps Led: Chris Shearburn 70, Ryan Luza 41, Blade Whitt 14, Isaac Gann 4, Zack Nichols 1, Zack Novak 1, John Gorlinsky 1, Bob Bryant 1, Matt Bussa 1.
Hard Charger: 14-Blade Whitt (+27)
Rookie of the Race: 44-Isaac Gann, Kligerman Sport, finished third.
Caution Flags: Two for eight laps
Margin of Victory: 1.838 seconds
Time of Race: One hour, 17 minutes, 17.198 seconds
Average Speed: 156.043 mph
Pole Winner: 4-Ryan Luza, 29.449 seconds (183.368 mph)
Fastest Lap: 8-Michael Conti, Lap 45, 29.828 seconds (181.038 mph)
Feature Photo Credit: Photo by Justin Melillo