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Firecracker 200: Jake Poulin wins in virtual photo finish at virtual Daytona

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Jake Poulin (21) beats Justin Botelho (20) to the line to win the Firecracker 200 on Monday, June 29th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

THE VIRTUAL DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. It was a wild Monday night in the virtual racing world.

eRacr.gg’s Firecracker 200, an 80 lap consolation race for the majority of the drivers who didn’t make the Firecracker 400 main event on Wednesday, took form on Monday night.

41 drivers took the green, and through the twists and turns over the course of the one hour, 20 minute event, Jake Poulin was able to win in dramatic fashion, a photo finish at the line, barely beating Monza Madness winner, Justin Botelho.

“Oh man, I thought I had a shot, but when I was coming off of Turn 2 and I had to check up, I thought ‘welp, the only hope now is if they all wreck’, and here we are,” Poulin said post-race. “It means so much, like, I tried so hard to get into the main race in qualifying, couldn’t get it done there, but I’m just at a loss of words right now.”

On the backstretch on the final lap, the lead pack crashed. Botelho went low and into the grass to avoid, while Poulin grabbed a little luck, making it through the center of the incident without sliding down.

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Justin Botelho (20) avoids the final wreck in the Firecracker 200 on Monday, June 29th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Botelho had the lead into Turn 3 and off of 4, but Poulin had a head of steam coming to the tri-oval. Botelho stayed low, and Poulin swung high, and at the line, it was Poulin, in the Papyrus throwback No. 21, by 0.013 seconds.

“I think the obvious move was to dive to the apron, and I think he was going to be ready to block that,” Poulin said. “I felt like I had enough of a run to where I could just sweep by on the outside. I want to thank (Boltelho) for not blocking me as hard as he did. I earned a lot of respect for Justin Botelho today.”

Poulin, an employee at iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations, also explained his 1987 Monte Carlo Papyrus throwback paint scheme to the commentary booth, comprised of Landon Cassill, Parker Kligerman, David Schildhouse, and pit reporter Kim Coon.

“Papyrus is the precursor company to iRacing, which is the company that I’m so proud to work for, and I just thought it was appropriate that, since we’re running a throwback race, we would break out the old logo.”

With winning the race, Poulin also earns a $500 paycheck, the total purse of the race set at $2,500 with the last place finisher receiving $25.

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Jake Poulin celebrates winning the Firecracker 200 on Monday, June 29th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

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The Firecracker events pay homage to NASCAR in the 1980’s, with the new-old 1987 NASCAR racecars (Monte Carlo and Thunderbird) released earlier in June, and an older model of Daytona International Speedway (iRacing’s 2007 edition).

Unlike the recent Daytona summer races, back in the day, they would be run early in the day, sometimes as early as 11:00 AM local time.

Recreated in the virtual world through eRacr.gg, the hope was to keep things as authentic to the past as virtually possible.

For Monday’s Firecracker 200, Mitchell Hunt started on the pole position, due to qualifying 44th overall, and Blake Reynolds (eNASCAR driver for Team Dillon eSports) was alongside.

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The lap 2 big one in the Firecracker 200 on Monday, June 29th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Very early, a majority of the field was impacted by the big one in Turn 1. Hunt got loose while running in second, and it swept most of the field into the chaos.

From that point, the field was split into the ‘haves’ with minimal to no damage, and the ‘have-nots’, whose cars were severely off pace.

Reynolds proved to be the dominant driver for the majority of the race, leading 54 laps overall. Nicholas Morse, Alex Kolonics, Mike Rasimas, and Cayden Rush led a few laps up front as well.

Coming to the end, another big one struck, and ended the chances for all of the top contenders on the day.

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Peter Bennett (3) avoids the chaos near the end in the Firecracker 200 on Monday, June 29th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Peter Bennett, Craig Arvanites, and Trevor Perry, among a few more were able to sneak through, and the final restart came with three laps to go.

Bennett wound up out of the picture with two laps to go, while Perry, Arvanites, and Nick Holland battled three-wide for the top spot.

On the final lap, they all crashed. Botelho and Poulin were the only survivors, and at the line, side-by-side, it was Poulin by a nose, the only lap he led the entire race.

FIRECRACKER 200 RESULTS

  1. 21 – Jake Poulin
  2. 20 – Justin Botelho
  3. 11 – Andy Hunter
  4. 15 – Steph Marinak
  5. 27 – Kyle Trudell
  6. 03 – Dylan D Thomas
  7. 87 – Peter Bennett (3)
  8. 76 – Craig Arvanites
  9. 79 – Barrett Polhemus
  10. 270 – Marshall C Gabell
  11. 41 – Brian C Mullin
  12. 22 – Alex Kolonics
  13. 68 – Mike Rasimas
  14. 3 – Blake Reynolds
  15. 444 – Monon Rahman
  16. 72 – Nick Holland
  17. 13 – Trevor Perry
  18. 35 – Brett Punkari
  19. 12 – Nicholas Morse
  20. 65 – Keith Jeffery
  21. 50 – Cristian Sanford
  22. 29 – Will Weber
  23. 30 – Colton J. Harvey
  24. 4 – Kenny Kibbey
  25. 166 – Blake McCandless
  26. 77 – Devon C Henry
  27. 16 – Aron MacEachern
  28. 40 – Cayden Rush
  29. 45 – Brennan Murdza
  30. 939 – Nathan Rabideau
  31. 71 – Mitchell Hunt
  32. 53 – Garrett Smithley
  33. 8 – Michael Jeanes
  34. 236 – Gilles Chatelain
  35. 920 – Tom Abromaitis
  36. 36 – Shane Iliff
  37. 00 – Gary Sexton
  38. 01 – Gary Cronenwett
  39. 70 – Aaron Smith II
  40. 07 – Matt Everhart
  41. 90 – Logan Hagerman

Tune into the main event, the Firecracker 400, on Wednesday, July 1st, at 8:00 pm ET. Live on Landon Cassill’s Twitch channel, among other eRacr.gg social platforms.

Check out the screenshots from the Firecracker 200, all photos by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

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Justin Melillo View All

Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com

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