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2020 TReSports ePreview: William Byron eSports

EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the thirteenth 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.

WBESPORTS
In the 2020 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series season, a new team named William Byron eSports, owned by William Byron, will field entries driven by Nick Ottinger and John Gorlinsky. Logo by William Byron eSports.

A story that has been told countless times before… William Byron used to race on a computer, and now he’s at the top level of NASCAR racing, driving the No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Cup Series.

The sim racing that he did on iRacing helped Byron learn about the sport of auto racing and about what NASCAR was all about, and from there, his quick progression through real-world racing began to take place.

After stints in legends cars, late models, and K&N Pro Series cars, Byron became a NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series standout in 2016, NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion in 2017, and a NASCAR Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year in 2018.

Byron’s march through the ranks was more accelerated than most, but when you win in every type of vehicle that you strap into, these things tend to happen.

When iRacing announced the 20 teams competing in the 2020 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series, it wasn’t too big of a shock to see William Byron listed as one of the five new owners, given his history with iRacing.

When choosing his team lineup for the upcoming season, Byron went with two veterans of the series, who have both been successful in the series for multiple years.

The first car for William Byron eSports will be the No. 25 Chevrolet, and will be driven by Nick Ottinger for the 2020 season.

Ottinger moves over from the No. 47 Chevrolet of JTG Daugherty Racing, the team that drafted him eighth overall in the 2019 eNASCAR iRacing draft.

With the second most wins in eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series history at 14 victories, Ottinger has yet to capture a title. He came close in 2013 and 2014, finishing third in the standings both seasons.

On top of those wins, Ottinger’s resumé also includes 13 career pole positions, 39 career Top 5 finishes, and 64 career Top 10 finishes, all in 129 career starts in the series.

Moving on from JTG Daugherty Racing wasn’t easy for the veteran, but moving to William Byron eSports is something that Ottinger is looking forward to.

“Originally, I didn’t want to move on,” Ottinger said. “I built such a good connection with Blake Cope (from JTG Daugherty), he’s such a good dude, but we just couldn’t come to terms, as far as what I expected throughout the year.

“William Byron presented a lot more, a better brand for myself to grow, whether it’s this year or the following years. We’ve got the same type of commitment, we’re going to win races… that’s what drew me to William Byron.”

Coming off of a break in series competition, John Gorlinsky returns to the series for the first time since 2013, driving the No. 97 Chevrolet for William Byron eSports in the upcoming 2020 season.

Gorlinsky advances back to the 2020 eNASCAR iRacing roster after a fourth place finish in the 2019 iRacing Pro Series standings.

In 60 career eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series starts, Gorlinsky has earned four career victories, four career pole positions, 19 career Top 5 finishes and 27 career Top 10 finishes.

In the 2011 season, Gorlinsky had his best career points standing finish of second, only finishing behind Ray Alfalla that year.

Gorlinsky said the way his new team owner went about his business is a big reason why he will be in the No. 97 in 2020.

“William approached me, and for somebody that just turned 22 years old, he was so mature in how he handled everything,” Gorlinsky said.

“I just felt like it was a great fit. He believed in me, and I sure as heck believe in him. It made for a really great pairing, especially knowing Nick was going to be my teammate.”

2019 OTTINGER / GORLINSKY SEASON RECAP

Driving the No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing in the 2019 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship season, Nick Ottinger was poised to make some noise early and often.

Ottinger started off the season with a fourth place finish at Daytona International Speedway, and a few races later at Texas Motor Speedway, he picked up a tenth place result.

After missing the fifth race of the season at Richmond Raceway, the very next race at Talladega Superspeedway, Ottinger put his No. 47 machine in victory lane.

Ottinger held on to win after a wild finish with Ryan Luza, Garrett Lowe, Brad Davies, and more coming across the stripe, many cars all under a blanket.

In the next five races, Ottinger collected two Top 5 finishes and four Top 10 finishes, and despite the missed race at Richmond, was looking to be heading towards a spot in the 2019 playoffs.

30 to go peak dega
Nick Ottinger (47) leads the pack in the closing laps at Talladega Superspeedway on April 23rd, 2019. Ottinger went on to win the race. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

That momentum shifted, however, as Ottinger ended up with two straight finishes outside of the Top 20, with a 22nd place effort at Pocono Raceway and a 29th place result at Michigan International Speedway.

In between those races, though, a special thing happened for not only Ottinger, but the whole series in general.

A few days after the Pocono event, the eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series drivers were invited to compete against one another on live television, during an episode of NASCAR America on NBC Sports Network.

The series took teir talents to the Iowa Speedway, a track not yet raced on by the NASCAR Cup Series, and when it was all said and done, Ottinger wound up as the winner of the non-points event.

Still with an outside chance, Ottinger went into the regular season finale at Bristol Motor Speedway in a close battle with Zack Novak for the transfer spot.

bubble battle
Nick Ottinger (47) battles Zack Novak (6) for the final spot in the 2019 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series playoffs at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 2th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

The two drivers battled throughout the event, but eventually, Novak ended up getting the upper hand.

Novak finished in second place, while Ottinger ended up in seventh, thus ending the playoff hopes for the No. 47 team.

In the final four races of the season, Ottinger stayed on the gas, and was able to pick up one more Top 5 finish before season’s end, a third place at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL.

The effort gave Ottinger a ninth place overall finish in the points standings for 2019, the best finish possible for anyone who didn’t make the playoffs.

During the offseason, Ottinger and JTG Daugherty split, which allowed the former to sign on with William Byron eSports for the upcoming 2020 season.

For Ottinger, he has his focus set on being on top at all times, and especially at year’s end.

“My goal is to win every single race,” Ottinger said. “It’s not realistic, but my goal is to finally get validation, to win a championship.

“Back in 2013, I had a really good shot to do it, but either I was wrecking, winning, or literally losing connection. That’s what that season was. I still hold the record that year for winning the most races in a single season.”

threewideaction
John Gorlinsky (25) leads the field at Daytona International Speedway in the iRacing Pro Series on October 22nd, 2019. Gorlinsky went on to win the race. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Looking to return to the eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series in 2020, John Gorlinsky had to run the gauntlet of the iRacing Pro Series once more to close out the 2019 racing season.

He couldn’t have had a better start to the seven-race season.

Gorlinsky held off the field to take the checkers at Daytona International Speedway, putting himself in a great position to transfer back into the eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series in 2020.

At Atlanta Motor Speedway, Gorlinsky followed up his victory with a sixth place effort. Three races later, he was back in victory lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which essentially locked him into a spot to advance.

After the following race at Darlington Raceway, Gorlinsky was one of seven drivers that locked in a week early. He still had an outside shot at the title, but needed poor efforts from Ray Alfalla, Graham Bowlin, and Nathan Lyon.

gorlisnkyburnouit
John Gorlinsky celebrates his second victory in the 2019 iRacing Pro Series season at Charlotte Motor Speedway on November 19th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Those poor finishes didn’t happen, and Gorlinsky wound up fourth overall in the standings.

Looking forward to his return to the eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series in 2020, Gorlinsky is ready to pick up where he left off back in 2013.

“I expect to be able to be in contention to win a race or two, maybe three, if the circumstances present themselves,” Gorlinsky said. “I have high hopes. I think I’m going to do well… if things go my way, I might even win the championship.”

***

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 #14 soon!

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Justin Melillo View All

Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com

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