By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
The tight confines of the virtual Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum led to carnage throughout the Heat Races and in the main event. However, iRacing officials withheld the caution unless the accident was considered a track-blocking wreck.
The defending eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series champion maneuvered his way from ninth in the feature to third following the second caution of the race. On the No. 95 XSET Chevrolet Camaro hounded Jim Beaver eSports’ Garrett Lowe for the lead.
With just over 30 laps to go Kirwan snuck by Lowe for control of the race. Though he had the lead, the Matthews, N.C. native never had a gap over his competitor for very long.
Lapped traffic on the ¼-mile track allowed Lowe to close back in. Ultimately, Kirwan slipped by that track more easily than Lowe. That allowed the eNASCAR champion to take the checkered flag with just over a second to spare.
“It was a bit trickier than it was last year with the ‘slide-y-ness’ in the center (of the corner),” Kirwan admitted. “The rear tires seemed to fall off faster because of that and I struggled in the heat race. Last year we had a little more warmup for it with all of the testing (to aid the real-life event) for the track.
“This year, I was in Daytona for the Rolex, so I didn’t have any laps until right before the session went up. I think I got lucky with everyone messing up in qualifying to start as high as I did. I kept trying to run a higher brake bias and kept locking up the front (tires) and going wide. Thankfully I got a rhythm towards the end there and that set me up for the feature. Got really lucky with the wrecks, the way they happened, to line up third.”
eNASCAR rookie Parker White of Kanaan eSports, JR Motorsports’ Kevin King, and Williams eSports’ Vicente Salas rounded out the top-five. RFK Racing rookie Timmy Holmes, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Bobby Zakenski, eRacr’s Kollin Keister, FGR Accel eRacing’s Garrett Manes, and Team Dillon eSports’ Tucker Minter completed the top-10.
Three heat races and a consolation race set the field for the eNASCAR exhibition race. The top-five from each heat made up the top-15 starters in the main event. Seven drivers transferred in from the consolation race. Similarly, to the real-life Daytona Duel races, two of the heats were calm while one heat and the consolation races were wild.
Heat Racing Chaos
At the start of Heat 2, Elliott Sadler Esports’ Cody Byus went for a wild ride after contact from Kansas City Pioneers’ Derek Justis. The final transfer spot from that heat came down to a photo finish between William Byron Esports’ Matt Bussa and RFK Racing’s Kaden Honeycutt. Bussa narrowly beat Honeycutt to the line by 0.010 seconds.
Two past eNASCAR champions were knocked out in the consolation race, JR Motorsports’ Michael Conti and William Byron Esports’ Nick Ottinger. A fiery battle between Keister and Ottinger decided the final transfer spot.
The duo took turns sending the other deep into the corner. While Keister would run away with the spot, Ottinger would return the favor a lap later. That was until the final lap. In the non-points race, a right-rear hook from Keister sent Ottinger head-on into the outside wall on the frontstretch. The eRacr driver transferred while the 2020 champion went home early.
The first points race of the season, the season-opener at the virtual Daytona International Speedway, is scheduled for Tuesday, February 14 at 9:00 p.m. ET. All eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series races are streamed live at enascar.com/live.
1. 95-Casey Kirwan , 2. 15-Garrett Lowe , 3. 11-Parker White , 4. 88-Kevin King , 5. 55-Vicente Salas , 6. 6-Timmy Holmes , 7. 18-Bobby Zalenski , 8. 42-Kollin Keister , 9. 12-Garrett Manes , 10. 33-Tucker Minter , 11. 17-Kaden Honeycutt , 12. 2-Corey Vincent , 13. 38-Michael Cosey Jr , 14. 23-Michael Guest , 15. 3-Jordy Lopez Jr , 16. 45-Keegan Leahy , 17. 40-Dylan Ault , 18. 4-Ryan Luza , 19. 75-Zack Novak , 20. 54-Daniel Faulkingham , 21. 97-Matt Bussa , 22. 31-Derek Justis .
Lead Changes: Three among three drivers.
Lap Leader(s): Garrett Lowe 1-10, Timmy Holmes 11, Garrett Lowe 12-38, Casey Kirwan 39-70.
Laps Led: Garrett Lowe 37, Casey Kirwan 32, Timmy Holmes 1.
Hard Charger(s): 42-Kollin Keister, eRacr, (+14).
Rookie of the Race: 11-Parker White, Kannan eSports.
Caution Flags: Two for six laps.
Margin of Victory: 1.117 seconds.
Time of Race: 17 minutes, 33.010 seconds.
Average Speed: 59.8285 MPH.
Fastest Qualifier: 2-Corey Vincent, Pittsburgh Knights GG, 13.316 seconds, 67.588 MPH.
Fastest Lap: 18-Bobby Zalenski, Joe Gibbs Racing, Lap 6, 13.442 seconds, 66.954 MPH.