EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the first 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.
Team Dillon eSports returns to eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series competition in 2020 as one of the 15 teams coming back from the 2019 season. 40 drivers on 20 total teams will compete not only for a driver’s championship, but also for a new team title in 2020.
The team, Team Dillon eSports, is managed by Team Dillon Management, a group owned by Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in the NASCAR Cup Series.
On December 21st, 2019, only a few days after the 2020 Free Agency period began, the team announced its driver lineup for the 11th season of what was once known as the Drivers World Championship.
Reynolds was a Champ 4 contender in ‘19.
TDM will also be adding @Michael_Guest to drive the No. 33.
— Justin Melillo (@justinmelillo) December 21, 2019
Blake Reynolds will return to the team in the 2020 season, and will switch from the No. 30 Chevrolet to the No. 3 Chevrolet.
Entering his fourth season of competition in 2020 Reynolds has six career Top 5 finishes in 48 career starts. Reynolds has also earned 18 career Top 10 finishes and has a best points standing rank of fourth, which came at the end of the 2019 season having made the Championship Four.
Reynolds was also the 2018 iRacing Pro Series Champion.
“The partners wanted me back. The team wanted me back. They gave me a good offer,” Reynolds said. “Then I knew I needed a teammate who could score points.”
That teammate will be Michael Guest, who will take control of the No. 33 Team Dillon eSports Chevrolet in the 2020 season. 2020 will be Guest’s third season in the eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series.
— Austin Dillon (@austindillon3) January 16, 2020
In two seasons, Guest has made 36 career starts, six of which were finishes in the Top 5. Guest has 13 Top 10 finishes and a best finish of 16th in the points standings in his rookie campaign in 2018.
Guest makes his move over from Roush Fenway Racing, where he was drafted 15th overall in the 2019 preseason to drive the No. 17 Ford.
“After negotiations ended with (Roush Fenway Racing), I went to Blake, and Blake went to me, and suggested me to Team Dillon,” Guest said. “After I talked to Team Dillon eSports, we kind of all got our stuff set, we were the first people out to announce our team.”
2019 TEAM DILLON eSPORTS RECAP
Not part of the original twelve teams in the preseason that participated in the eNASCAR iRacing Series draft, Team Dillon eSports emerged on to the scene before the fourth race of the 2019 season, selecting Reynolds to drive the No. 30 BN3TH Chevrolet, and Benjamin W. Nelson to drive the No. 33 Digital Ally Chevrolet.
Before his selection to the team, Reynolds had started the season in the No. 1 Independent Ford, capturing mid-pack finishes early on.
Reynolds started the season off with a 28th place effort at Daytona Int’l Speedway, 21st place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and 13th at Auto Club Speedway.
His teammate, Nelson, was on a similar path, with finishes of 27th, 19th, and 20th.
With the team now officially in the mix, Reynolds took his No. 30 BN3TH Chevrolet to a season-best 12th place finish at Texas Motor Speedway, while Nelson came home in 15th position.
After that, a magical mid-season turnaround began for Reynolds.
Reynolds racked up nine Top 10 finishes in the ten races leading up to the 2019 playoffs, including two runner-up finishes at Richmond Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The effort was enough to crown Reynolds the 2019 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series Regular Season Champion by ten points over Ryan Michael Luza.
The same magic wasn’t able to follow Nelson through the end of the regular season. Nelson ended the regular season with only one Top 10 finish, an eighth place effort at Kentucky. The race was now on for Nelson to try and make the Top 20 in standings to secure a place in the 2020 series roster.
The three-race playoff series would decide the four drivers who would compete for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway, live on NBCSN on October 10th.
Nelson took his best finish of the season in the playoff opener at Darlington Raceway, a podium effort in 3rd place. Reynolds didn’t have as good as a result, and opened the playoffs in the hole with a 24th place finish.
The next race at Indy was almost a career-defining moment for Reynolds.
Coming off of the final turn at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a victory would secure any one of the eight playoff contenders in the Championship 4. Reynolds was in that spot, but didn’t know if he would have enough gas to make it to the line.
Casey Kirwan got a run on Reynolds as the No. 30 BN3TH Chevrolet began sputtering. Reynolds blocked Kirwan to the line, but Corey Vincent was able to drive around them both to take the victory. Reynolds settled for a second place that day.
In the penultimate race of the season, back at Charlotte but on the ROVAL, it was going to be a drag race between Reynolds and Garrett Lowe for the final spot at the table.
The two drivers traded blows in the closing laps, neither one able to pull away from the other. Eventually, Lowe cut the course enough resulting in a penalty, and that allowed Reynolds to advance to the Championship Four.
Reynolds joined ROVAL winner Bobby Zalenski, the driver with the most wins on the season, Keegan Leahy, and the eventual 2019 Champion, Zack Novak.
At the end of the day, Reynolds wound up finishing in fourth out of the four championship contenders, but to get there was an accomplishment in itself.
“Really, I just want to equal what I did last year (in 2020),” Reynolds said. “That was an unbelievable season. A lot of it was luck, but a lot of it was because we have great engineering in our sets, a lot of time put in, and a great group of guys.”
Nelson showed strength many times throughout the season, but only collected one Top 5, two Top 10’s, and ultimately wound up finishing 28th overall in the standings.
Not locked in and relegated to run the 2019 iRacing Pro Series, Nelson’s luck didn’t improve in the final seven races of the 2019 eNASCAR season.
Nelson wound up finishing the 2019 Pro Series in 31st place in the points, which wasn’t enough to re-advance back into the 2020 World Championship roster.
Nelson will have to run the Road to Pro Series and qualify for the 2020 iRacing Pro Series to have another shot at being back in the top series at the end of the year.
GUEST PICKED UP DURING FREE AGENCY
With the open seat now in the No. 33 Chevrolet, Team Dillon eSports picked up Michael Guest during the Free Agency period.
Like Nelson, Guest didn’t have the 2019 season that he would have hoped for, especially in the later half of the season.
The regular season wasn’t too off for Guest, as he was a regular in the Top 10 most races.
Finishes of fourth at Kansas Speedway and third at Bristol Motor Speedway highlighted Guest’s regular season, but so did five finishes outside the Top 30, having gotten caught up in something at all of the two mile plus ovals.
When the playoffs began, Guest’s Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Zack Novak, was fighting for a championship, while Guest was fighting to stay in the Top 20 in order to advance back to the 2020 roster.
Unfortunately, not a single finish in the final four races in 2019 were in the Top 20 for Guest, which relegated him to an overall points standings finish of 23rd.
Now back in the Pro Series, Guest had just enough to qualify back into the 2020 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series roster, finishing up the campaign in the final transfer spot of 20th place.
Guest had decent finishes in some of the Pro Series events, including a fourth at Daytona, third at Richmond, and ninth at Charlotte. However, bad luck continued to strike, which led to the finishes of the remaining races to all be outside of the Top 20.
Still, it was barely enough to hold off Bryan Blackford and Casey Tucker for the final spot.
“I’ve always felt like I’ve had the performance to go for it,” Guest said. “I know I want to right the wrongs of last year, and make sure I don’t just… it’s almost more luck than not, but at the same time, I can put myself in better positions than I have.”
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 #2 soon!
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