THE VIRTUAL NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. – The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series hosted a sanctioned All-Star Race for the first time in series history on Tuesday night, and when the smoke and rubble cleared, Graham Bowlin stood victorious at the new, virtual version of the famed North Wilkesboro Speedway.
On the final corner of the final lap, Logan Clampitt (Burton Kligerman eSports) held the lead over Blake Reynolds (Team Dillon eSports), that was, until Reynolds laid his bumper to Clampitt’s.
Clampitt got loose after the contact, and as Reynolds shot high, Clampitt went from pointing towards the infield to pointing towards the wall.
The two collided again, and Bowlin (Joe Gibbs Racing) was able to sneak by on the bottom, winning $500 and claiming his first victory in the top level series, albeit a non-points event.
32 trucks entered the event on Tuesday night, with only 26 scheduled to make the feature race of 120 laps.
Firstly, yes, I said trucks. With the release of the new NASCAR Ford F-150 this month, all three manufacturers finally had a NASCAR truck on the iRacing service.
Second, in order to dwindle the field down to 26 trucks, heat races and inverts were implemented before the main event.
In single-lap qualifying, Jimmy Mullis (Richmond Raceway eSports) laid down the fastest lap, but that relegated him to a sixth place starting spot in the first heat.
Christian Challiner (JTG Daugherty Racing) led the first heat to the green, and was able to lead all 20 laps en route to the heat victory.
In the second heat, Caine Cook (Renegades) led most of the laps, but played the invert on the final lap, falling back to finish sixth. Zack Novak (Richmond Raceway eSports) ended up with the heat win.
Ten drivers advanced out of each heat, for a total of 20. Six more spots remained, and those would come from the last chance consolation race of 25 laps.
In the consolation race, Casey Kirwan (Denny Hamlin eSports) was able to take the victory, but it was a last lap battle for the transfer spot between Nick Ottinger (William Byron eSports) and Brandon Kettelle (Clint Bowyer Racing).
A few laps earlier, Kettelle and Ryan Luza (Williams Esports) collided, and took Luza out of contention. Luza appeared to wait on Kettelle, and on the final lap, held him up just enough for Ottinger to pass. Kettelle fought back and laid the bumper to Ottinger, but the end result was a flying No. 14 truck, and advancement for Ottinger.
In the main event, Jake Nichols (Mode Motorsports) started on the pole after a final invert, and led the opening stint of the event.
The opening stint ended when Nichols took a slide after contact with Cook battling for the lead. Nichols ended up falling to the back, and although he pitted, decided not to use his only extra set of virtual tires.
All drivers were only given two sets of tires, the set they started with, and one extra pair in the pits. In 120 laps, it was up to each driver to decide when to put them on, whether to wait until the competition caution at lap 100, or utilize them on an earlier yellow.
Challiner took a spin in the midpoint of the race, and on the next caution, decided to try his own strategy, taking tires while everyone else stayed out.
Challiner worked his way from last to first, mostly taking the top lane to do so, and had his sight set on lapping the entire field before the competition caution.
He was able to lap a handful of trucks before an unfortunate caution ended his hopes, as Nathan Lyon (Roush Fenway Racing) spun and collected Alex McCollum (G2 Esports) and Michael Guariglia (Jim Beaver eSports).
Clampitt took control on the next restart, opting for the tires before the competition caution. After a few more incidents, it came down to the final few laps to decide it. Reynolds moved Bobby Zalenski (Virtual Racing School) out of his way to take the second spot, and then fixed his sights on Clampitt.
Reynolds got close a few times, but Clampitt was able to hold serve.
Then, on the final corner, calamity struck.
Bowlin kept it low, and held off Justin Bolton (Stewart-Haas eSports) to take the victory.
ALL STAR RACE RESULTS:
- 18 – Graham A. Bowlin – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 10 – Justin Bolton – Stewart-Haas eSports
- 25 – Nick Ottinger – Williams Byron eSports
- 27 – Corey Vincent – Renegades
- 24 – Jake Nichols – Mode Motorsports
- 55 – Caine Cook – Renegades
- 4 – Santiago Tirres – Letarte eSports
- 97 – John Gorlinsky – William Byron eSports
- 33 – Michael Guest – Team Dillon eSports
- 15 – Michael Guariglia – Jim Beaver eSports
- 75 – Phillip Diaz – Mode Motorsports
- 2 – Ray Alfalla – Virtual Racing School
- 83 – Bobby Zalenski – Virtual Racing School
- 37 – Christian Challiner – JTG Daugherty Racing
- 3 – Blake Reynolds – Team Dillon eSports
- 99 – Logan Clampitt – Burton Kligerman eSports
- 8 – Michael Conti – JR Motorsports
- 5 – Matt Bussa – Williams eSports
- 46 – Jimmy Mullis – Richmond Raceway eSports
- 32 – Keegan Leahy – Denny Hamlin Racing
- 88 – Brad Davies – JR Motorsports
- 54 – Alex McCollum – G2 eSports
- 6 – Nathan Lyon – Roush Fenway Racing
- 90 – Zack Novak – Richmond Raceway eSports
- 23 – Casey Kirwan – Denny Hamlin Racing
- 17 – Kollin Keister – Roush Fenway Racing
DID NOT QUALIFY:
- 9 – Eric J. Smith – Jim Beaver eSports
- 41 – Dylan Duval – Stewart-Haas eSports
- 14 – Brandon Hayse Kettelle – Clint Bowyer Racing
- 16 – Chris Overland – Wood Brothers Racing
- 53 – Ryan Michael Luza – Williams eSports
- 79 – Brian Schoenburg – Clint Bowyer Racing
DID NOT ATTEMPT:
- 1 – Steve Sheehan – Bryant Sheehan eSports
- 21 – Garrett Lowe – Wood Brothers Racing
- 36 – Chris Shearburn – Letarte eSports
- 42 – Bob Bryant – Bryant Sheehan eSports
- 47 – Jeremy R Allen – JTG Daugherty Racing
- 51 – Malik Ray – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 66 – Jarl Teien – G2 eSports
- 77 – Ashton Crowder – Burton Kligerman eSports
Check out the TReSports Photo Gallery from the All Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway! All Photos by Justin Melillo via iRacing.com.
Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com