EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the eighth 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.
The 2020 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Season won’t be Stewart-Haas Racing’s first journey into the world of eNASCAR racing.
Stewart-Haas Racing itself has a storied history, including two NASCAR Cup Series titles from Co-Owner Tony Stewart in 2011 and current driver of the No. 4 for the team, Kevin Harvick, in 2014. They have quite a number of visits to victory lane as well.
Their eSports team was originally named “Stewart-Haas Gaming”, and they competed in inaugural eNASCAR Heat Pro Series last year. In a tiebreaker with Leavine Family Gaming, Stewart-Haas Gaming was determined to be the winners of the 2019 championship.
Having conquered the discipline of console racing already, Stewart-Haas Gaming rebranded during the offseason to become “Stewart-Haas eSports”, and will now attempt to conquer the world of simulated racing on the iRacing platform.
What a night!
— Stewart-Haas eSports (@SHR_eSports) October 24, 2019
Joining the field of 20 teams competing in the eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series for the first time in 2020, SHR eSports will have two drivers with years of experience behind the wheels of their virtual rides.
Currently employed as an engineer for Stewart-Haas Racing’s Xfinity program, Justin Bolton returns to the eNiWCS in 2020 and will pilot the No. 10 Ford Mustang for their eSports division.
Bolton competed in the series full time from 2014 to 2016, and made a couple of starts in 2017 before taking a few years off from the series.
In 46 career starts, Bolton has earned five career pole positions, nine career Top 5 finishes, and 22 career Top 10 finishes.
Bolton advances back to the eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series from the 2019 iRacing Pro Series, in which he finished 15th in the overall points standings.
“I actually got a call right away from Stewart-Haas eSports because I work for Stewart-Haas,” Bolton said. “As soon as iRacing told them they could talk to drivers, I got a call and they started asking for names, and I threw some names around. Ultimately, about a week later, I got a message from Dylan (Duval) that he was going to be my teammate.”
NEWS: Stewart-Haas #eSports has named its two drivers for the 2020 #eNASCAR @iRacing World Championship Series, promoting one accomplished simracer from within @StewartHaasRcng and selecting another veteran simracer from outside the United States.
— Stewart-Haas eSports (@SHR_eSports) January 14, 2020
Dylan Duval ran the 2019 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship season as one of the eight independent drivers, but now he has a team he can call home in 2020.
Duval has been added to the Stewart-Haas Racing family as the driver of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas eSports Ford Mustang for the upcoming season.
With the exception of 2015, Duval has raced in at least one event on the eNiWCS schedule since 2012. It wasn’t until 2016, however, where Duval went full time on the circuit, and in his first full time season, he finished fifth overall in the driver’s standings.
With 73 eNiWCS starts under his belt, Duval has a lone victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2016. Duval also has eight career Top 5 finishes and 23 career Top 10 finishes to his name.
“It was probably about a week into the free agency, and I was in talks with another team,” Duval said. “I got a call from Stewart-Haas, and they said Bolton would be my teammate. That was the ideal situation, with Bolton and I being friends and working together on the sim.
“Stewart-Haas was at the top of my list… that was definitely an ideal situation for me.”
— Dylan Duval (@DDuval42) January 10, 2020
2019 DUVAL / BOLTON SEASON RECAP
After a successful campaign in the 2018 iRacing Pro Series, Dylan Duval returned in 2019 to the top level of sim racing after running only a part-time schedule in the 2018 eNiWCS season.
Undrafted, but ready to prove a point, Duval had enough good in his 2019 season where he didn’t have to worry about another Pro Series run later that year.
The first five races of the year for Duval weren’t spectacular, as he had no finishes in the Top 20. At Talladega Superspeedway, his luck started to swing around.
Duval avoided the big ones and mayhem and brought it home in tenth, and from there, the consistent finishes started to click off.
Five of the next eight races before the playoffs resulted in Top 20 finishes for Duval, which helped his position in the standings increase with just four races to go.
In those final four races, Duval added on two more Top 10 finishes at Indianapolis and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The late push was enough to place Duval in 17th overall in the final standings, locking him into the 2020 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series roster.
Looking forward, Duval has his goals set on being a playoff driver in the 2020 season.
“I would really like to make the (playoffs),” Duval said. “I had that one year where I finished fifth in the points, but we didn’t have a chase.”
“I would also love to get back to victory lane. It’s been a while… I would definitely like to win again.”
Less than two weeks after the eNiWCS season concluded, the iRacing Pro Series kicked off their seven-race season at Daytona International Speedway.
Justin Bolton returned to action, driving the No. 98 Chevrolet in what he hoped would be a good enough run to return to the top level once again.
Daytona didn’t pan out for Bolton, as his 29th place result would eventually wind up as his drop week at season’s end.
Atlanta Motor Speedway came, and Bolton was able to find a rhythm which led to a 12th place effort on the day.
Richmond Raceway was the highlight on the season for Bolton, as he scored his best finish in eighth on that night.
There was a stretch of races at Dover International Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway where Bolton was unable to find any good luck.
At Dover, Bolton wound up finishing 18th after getting knocked around a few times on the track. In Charlotte, the end result was a 27th place finish.
Back on pace at Darlington Raceway, Bolton scored another Top 10 finish in a ninth place effort, and that left him in a decent spot to advance after Homestead.
With a 12th place season ending result, Bolton wound up 15th overall in the standings, and headed back to the eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series.
Bolton’s plan for 2020 is to make sure he stays there at season’s end.
“I just want to stay in the series. I don’t want to go back through Road-to-Pro or the Pro Series. It wasn’t all that bad, but, Top 20, really, that’s all I can really see for me.”
— Cole Custer (@ColeCuster) January 14, 2020
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 #9 soon!
Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com