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2020 TReSports ePreview: Roush Fenway Racing

EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the fifth installment of the 2020 TReSports ePreview! The 2020 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series kicks off on February 11th, 2020, at the virtual Daytona International Speedway. The goal is to have a preview for each team out before that date.

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Nathan Lyon and Kollin Keister will drive for Roush Fenway Racing in 2020. Logo from Roush Fenway Racing. Numbers from Big Evil Racing + Designs.

Fresh off a championship season in 2019, Roush Fenway Racing has a brand new look for their eNASCAR team heading into the 2020 season.

Entering his second season in the eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series, Nathan Lyon takes over the 2019 championship winning ride, the No. 6 Ford Mustang, for the 2020 season.

In only 18 career starts at the highest level, Lyon has one career Top 10 finish at Talladega Superspeedway. Despite finishing 20th at Bristol Motor Speedway, Lyon led the most laps in the event.

In the iRacing Pro Series, Lyon has two career victories, in 2018 at Richmond Raceway, and the season finale in 2019 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

During the iRacing Media Days, Lyon showed his excitement in getting to drive for Roush Fenway Racing in 2020.

“Personally, Roush Fenway Racing is such an iconic NASCAR team, and growing up, being a late 90’s kid, Roush was huge in the sport,” Lyon said. “They had a lot of big time drivers… so it was always one of those teams that if you were going to be a NASCAR driver, you would want to be on that team.

“I’m also a big Mustang enthusiast, and they have Roush Performance parts, so to be able to brag to friends, at local car meets, that I work for Roush… it’s pretty cool.”

Kollin Keister advances from the 2019 iRacing Pro Series to fill the vacant No. 17 Ford Mustang in his series debut.

Keister is one of the purest rookies in the field in 2020. Advancing to the 2019 iRacing Pro Series for the first time via the 2019 Road-to-Pro, Keister collected a best finish of second place at Richmond Raceway in the seven race stretch.

The overall result was a tenth place points finish in the Pro Series, and it was enough to advance him to the eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series in his first attempt.

Keister also had excitement in his voice about his new digs in 2020.

“I’m just excited to be a part of this team,” Keister said. “Out of all the teams that I got a chance to talk to, this is the one I was really looking at. I really look forward to working with these guys and I’m excited for the upcoming season.”

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Zack Novak celebrates winning the 2019 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on October 10th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

2019 ROUSH FENWAY RACING RECAP

One of the original twelve teams entered in the eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series in 2019, Roush Fenway Racing entered the eNASCAR iRacing draft with the 10th and 15th overall picks.

Their first pick was Zack Novak, who at the time was a driver entering his third season of eNiWCS competition, and also was the first eNASCAR IGNITE Series Champion, a high level series made for 13 to 16 year old drivers on iRacing.

Michael Guest was the team’s second pick, and he was another up-and-coming young driver who was entering his second year of competition in eNiWCS.

The season started off about as well as Roush Fenway Racing could have hoped, with Novak finding victory lane in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

The following week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Novak followed up the win with a second place effort, while teammate Guest brought home a sixth.

It was at Kansas Speedway where the team’s best effort of the season shined through. Novak secured the victory, while Guest took home a fourth place effort. Had Guest had more laps in the event, he seemed to have the fastest car on the track that day, and possibly could have gotten more.

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Zack Novak (6) crosses the line to win at Kansas Speedway on May 7th, 2019. Roush Fenway Racing teammate Michael Guest comes home in fourth in the No. 17. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Novak picked up his third win of the season at Kentucky Speedway a few weeks later. Guest had picked up a handful of consistent finishes as well.

Both drivers were trending towards a playoff run, but a pair of finishes outside the Top 30 for Guest at Pocono Raceway and Michigan International Speedway ended his chances. Ultimately, Guest finished the season 23rd overall in the driver’s standings.

Novak, on the other hand, was teetering on the edge of the playoffs against drivers such as Nick Ottinger, Casey Kirwan, and Corey Vincent.

Kirwan picked up the victory in the regular season finale at Bristol Motor Speedway, but Novak took home a second place, and that was enough to clinch the final spot in the Playoff Round of 8.

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Zack Novak (6) leads at Kentucky Speedway on July 9th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

The magic for Novak didn’t end at making the playoffs. A second place effort at Darlington Raceway, along with a pair of decent finishes at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL locked Novak into a Championship 4 spot.

Then, at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the season came full circle, as Novak held off Keegan Leahy in the closing laps to win the race and title. A bookending worth celebrating, Novak started the year on top, and ended in the same place.

ROUSH FENWAY SIGNS LYON AND KEISTER FOR 2020

During the free agency period, neither Novak or Guest came to an agreement with the team they were drafted by in 2019, and thus left Roush Fenway Racing looking for two new drivers in 2020.

One of those replacements came in the form of one Nathan Lyon, former driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet for Letarte eSports.

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Nathan Lyon (4) leads Ryan Lowe (7) and Zack Novak (6) at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 20th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Lyon showed promise during his rookie campaign in the 2019 season, but the results weren’t reflective of said promise.

Regardless, having to go back to the iRacing Pro Series after a dismal 35th place finish in the 2019 drivers standing might have been the best thing for his stock.

Four Top 5 finishes, including two second place efforts and a victory, locked Lyon back into the 2020 eNiWCS driver roster a week ahead of schedule.

Lyon also led the most laps on two occasions in the 2019 Pro Series, including his season-ending victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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Nathan Lyon (47) races against Bryan Blackford (32) for the lead at Homestead-Miami Speedway on December 17th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

The other new driver that was chosen for 2020 wound up being Kollin Keister, a rookie in all aspects of the name.

Keister put his eggs in the Road-to-Pro basket in 2019, succeeding in gaining a huge iRating in the process, and enough points to graduate to the iRacing Pro Series.

In the Pro Series, Keister had enough success to all but lock in entering the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Only needing a finish better than 32nd, Keister succeeded in doing so as the green flag dropped, and only 30 drivers taking the green flag to end the season. Still, Keister took a tenth place finish overall, and advanced into the eNiWCS for 2020.

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Kollin Keister (25) races Bob Bryant (53) at Dover International Speedway on November 12th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Both drivers are poised for greatness in the upcoming season, and exclaimed that confidence when asked about their goals.

“Definitely championship, driver and team championship, to be up there, number one,” Lyon said. “That’s the main goal for anything, period. On top of that, maybe two or three wins on the season, getting to dominate some races, making the team happy, making the fans and sponsors happy.”

“That’s what I’m here for,” Keister replied. “I want to win the championship. Like Nathan said, the team championship, that’s a big thing too. I want to win a lot of races… I’m looking forward to it. I’ve got a lot of confidence.”

***

The eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series season begins at Daytona International Speedway on February 11th, 2020. The race is expected to be streamed live on iRacing’s Twitch stream, with the start time usually at 9:00 pm ET.

Look for ePreview #6 soon!

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Justin Melillo View All

Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com

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