Wilson earns Total Advantage’s first Top Split Road to Pro win

Photo by SETH EGGERT for KICKIN' THE TIRES / iRacing

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

Steven Wilson made his presence known when it mattered in the eNASCAR iRacing Road to Pro at the virtual Michigan International Speedway.

The Total Advantage Motorsport driver climbed up through the field. Wilson’s virtual No. 5 Total Advantage Toyota Tundra first broke into the top-five with 25 laps to go in the scheduled 100 lap distance.

While NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series driver Carson Hocevar and ARCA Menards Series driver Kaden Honeycutt, Wilson quietly stalked the duo. The professional racing duo inherited the lead positions after staying out under caution.

Hocevar held off challenge after challenge from Jordy Lopez Jr., Honeycutt, Wilson, and fellow Total Advantage driver Femi Olat. However, as the race neared the end of the race, a rash of cautions changed who could challenge the Niece Motorsports driver for the victory. In a second overtime restart, Wilson matched Hocevar’s start. He out-maneuvered the leader’s old tires to take the victory by 0.041 seconds.

“I thought about that move every lap under caution, and that was the last 15,” explained Wilson. “I definitely was thinking about if I was in second, how I would do it. It took a lot of thought and it worked out pretty well. I had a big enough gap back to third to time it to get the run off. He was on old tires so I knew he would struggle to turn down in front of me. Same on the last lap, he’s on old tires and has to work harder to get it down.

“I got a terrible run off the bottom when I tried to pass him earlier. With that big of a run, I didn’t have to worry about it.”

Lopez finished third after sitting out the last two Road to Pro events. Olat and Daniel Roeper completed the top-five. Dylan C Jones, Dairk Bourdeau, Honeycutt, Brian Mercurio, and Donovan Strauss rounded out the top-10.

Wilson’s win was the first in the top split of Road to Pro competition for Total Advantage. The Landon Huffman-led effort made its’ debut on iRacing and in eNASCAR competition one month ago.

“This is huge,” admitted Wilson. “Other than Homestead, this is my best finish. It’s incredible the speed that we’ve had. We also finished fourth (Olat) and Allen Boes had unfortunate circumstances and was able to get back up to 12th. I have to thank Total Advantage, Landon Huffman, he put all of this together.”

Early in the race, it appeared that the path to victory would be through polesitter Mitchell deJong and Derek Justis. deJong’s race was derailed after he bounced off the wall. He later was swept up in a late-race accident. Justis was shuffled out of the top-five during the split pit stop strategy that gave Hocevar the lead.

The Finish

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

Lead Changes: 13 among seven drivers.

Lap Leader(s): Mitchell deJong 1-15, Derek Justis 16-39, Jordy Lopez Jr. 40-44, Femi Olat 45, Jordy Lopez Jr. 46, Derek Justis 47, Jordy Lopez Jr. 48-49, Carson Hocevar 50, Derek Justis 51-65, Daniel Roeper 66, Femi Olat 67, Derek Justis 68-70, Carson Hocevar 71-104, Steven Wilson3 105-106.

Laps Led: Derek Justis 43, Carson Hocevar 35, Mitchell deJong 15, Jordy Lopez Jr. 8, Femi Olat 2, Steven Wilson3 2, Daniel Roeper 1.

Hard Charger: Daniel Roeper (+26)

Cautions: Seven for 27 laps.

Margin of Victory: 0.041 seconds.

Time of Race: One hour, 37 minutes, 16.316 seconds.

Average Speed: 130.767 mph.

Pole Winner: Mitchell deJong, 39.031 seconds (184.469 mph)

Fastest Lap: Daniel Roeper, 39.263 seconds (183.379 mph)

Strength of Field: 7,306 average iRating.

Rundown of Road to Pro Split Winners: Isaac Gann (second split), Ethan Lane (third split), Cory Brown (fourth split), Garrison Hogan (fifth split), Bryan P Johnson (sixth split), Johnathan Shipman (seventh split), Timothy O’Connor (eighth split), Travis Elliott (ninth split), Doug Chappell (10th split), Alexei Catalnicov (11th split), Jacob G (12th split), Drew Pfaffman (13th split), Shane DiMantova (14th split), Charles Eaton (15th split).

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