100 laps caution-free, strategy race filled with differing pit cycles, and Mitchell deJong finds his way to the top of the chart from 21st starting spot
(Virtual) FONTANA, Calif. — After 100 green flag laps at the virtual Auto Club Speedway, Mitchell deJong collected his first career iRacing Pro Series victory, outrunning some of the best that the oval side of iRacing has to offer on Tuesday night.
“I’m at a loss for words right now,” deJong told Jacob Seelman post race on Podium eSports. “I don’t know… I didn’t even think that was possible to come from that far back.”
Starting from the 21st position, deJong quickly worked his way into the Top 10 by the 15th lap. After a fantastic first pit cycle, deJong made his way around pole sitter Vicente Salas, eventual runner-up, Femi Olat, and a few other Deadzone Racing and Elliott Sadler Esports teammates that were originally ahead.
“I knew heading into this, we had a good car,” deJong said. “Unfortunately, we really didn’t get to show it in qualifying. Both of my laps, I just completely missed the line. Wasn’t even close to running a good one. After that mistake, it was like, ‘oh jeez. What can we do with this?'”
Through the second and final round of stops, deJong held on, and took the victory by over three-and-a-half seconds over Olat, with Allen Boes coming home third. Boes takes over control of the points lead after two races, with Olat moving up to second, deJong in third, Michael Guest fourth, and last week’s winner, Malik Ray, falling to fifth.
“For me, I’m still so inexperienced with oval (racing), I’m just trying to learn each time,” deJong continued, talking highly of his teammates. “I do like putting in the hours to learn how to drive it, and set up the car, but these guys are just masters at dialing things in. It’s so helpful to learn from them.”
Hey @iRacing , look out. Mitchell DeJong wants to conquer the oval world now!@MitchelldeJong1 to Victory Lane at Fontana!— Podium eSports (@PodiumeSports) November 25, 2020
3rd: @A_Boes21#eNASCAR | 📺: https://t.co/dSugYk1qIY pic.twitter.com/BdqBP4NsbC
Relegation driver review
Of the 18 drivers relegated from the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series to this season’s Pro Series, only two of them managed to finish in the Top 10 at Auto Club Speedway (Ashton Crowder 6th, Nathan Lyon 7th) while only a total of eight wound up in the top half of the field.
It was a tough night for early hopefuls such as Brian Schoenburg, Brandon Hayse Kettelle, Zack Novak, and Jarl Teien.
After another great qualifying effort, Schoenburg started 6th. Late in the going, the No. 55 got off strategy with both Novak and Teien, all hoping for a late caution to put them back into the middle of contention. That caution never came. Schoenburg wound up 28th, Novak 34th, and Teien was a lap down in 38th.
Kettelle, meanwhile, was in a heated battle against multiple drivers in the final stage of the event. After run ins with both Taylor Hurst and Kollin Keister, Kettelle finally got sent himself into the outside of Turn 2 off of the bumper of Steven Wilson. The damage was enough to send Kettelle back to 30th, and after two weeks, he sits last in the 40-man standings.
Speaking of standings, 10 of the 18 relegated drivers still sit above the 21st place cut line, with Guest and Ray representing in the Top 5. The 2019 Coke Series champion, Novak, is once again flirting with the cutoff line, as he sits in 19th after two races.
Thank you, Justin. We knew we could count on you! https://t.co/UTXengyjLE— BottomSplit (@BottomSplit) November 25, 2020
Up and comer outlook
It goes without saying, but Mitchell deJong is really good on iRacing, no matter what type of vehicle or what type of track he’s on. His win at Auto Club Speedway put him in a really good spot with 33 percent of the season in the books. Boes and Olat, two Total Advantage Motorsports teammates, are also looking stout entering the halfway race at Richmond Raceway.
Occupying 11 of the 21 seats up for grabs, the 2020 Road-to-Pro graduates are outnumbering the relegated Coke Series drivers by one after two races. After a tough first week at Daytona, Vicente Salas improves with a 10th place effort at Auto Club, leading the most laps after starting on the pole position, and now finds himself on the cut line by six points over another TAM driver, Steven Wilson.
A handful of RTP graduates have dug themselves a large hole already, as some drivers are more than 20 points below the cut line so far. Brian Mercurio (37th place at ACS), Taylor Hurst (40th at ACS), Donovan Strauss (36th at ACS), Seth DeMerchant (31st at ACS), Michael Gonzales (27th at ACS), and Jose Solis Jr. (24th at ACS) are all in danger of having to return to the Road-to-Pro ladder again in 2021 if they don’t pick up better results soon.
P3!!! Car was absolutely rolling on the long run. Points leader after 2 weeks with 4 races left. Big thanks to @OneWraps and @WindshieldDeep for being on the car this week once again. Next up is @RReSports, where anything can happen. pic.twitter.com/oqQ4uBpqUm— Allen Boes (@A_Boes21) November 25, 2020
WHAT’S UP NEXT
Richmond Raceway will host the third round of the 2020 iRacing Pro Series next Tuesday at 9:00 pm ET. Graham A. Bowlin won this event last season, and Kollin Keister finished in second. Keister will be looking for a similar, if not better result to help get him above the cut line.
AUTO CLUB RESULTS
- (12) Mitchell deJong – Coanda Simsport / Virtual Racing School
- (5) Femi Olat – Total Advantage Motorsports
- (21) Allen Boes – Total Advantage Motorsports
- (31) Derek Justis – Norse Force Racing
- (2) Garrett Manes – Elliott Sadler Esports / Richmond Raceway eSports
- (98) Ashton Crowder – Elliott Sadler Esports
- (47) Nathan Lyon – Deadzone Racing
- (32) Steven Wilson – Total Advantage Motorsports
- (77) Ryan Doucette – Nexxus eSports
- (14) Vicente Salas – Elliott Sadler Esports
- (22) Isaac Gann – Norse Force Racing
- (4) Santiago Tirres – Slip Angle Motorsports / LETARTE eSports
- (52) Jake Matheson – Nexxus eSports
- (33) Michael Guest – Deadzone Racing / Team Dillon eSports
- (7) Blade Whitt – Lowline Racing
- (17) Kollin Keister – Deadzone Racing
- (10) Justin Bolton – Stewart-Haas eSports
- (16) Chris Overland – Slip Angle Motorsports / Wood Brothers Gaming
- (19) Eddie Kerner – Total Advantage Motorsports
- (34) Matt Bussa – Team Conti / Williams Esports
- (51) Malik Ray – Deadzone Racing / Joe Gibbs Racing
- (15) Michael Guariglia – Deadzone Racing
- (1) Alex McCollum – Legacy Esports
- (75) Jose Solis Jr. – Nexxus eSports
- (9) Eric J. Smith – Slip Angle Motorsports / Jim Beaver eSports
- (46) Collin Bowden – Deadzone Racing
- (72) Michael Gonzales – Total Advantage Motorsports
- (55) Brian Schoenburg – Norse Force Racing
- (41) Dylan Duval – Five Star Racing / Stewart-Haas eSports
- (48) Brandon Hayse Kettelle – Slip Angle Motorsports
- (57) Seth DeMerchant – Horizon Racing Team
- (24) Zack Nichols – Norse Force Racing
- (42) Danny Hansen – Garrett Smithley eSports
- (90) Zack Novak – LockDown Racing / Richmond Raceway eSports
- (20) Steve Sheehan – Independent
- (45) Donovan Strauss – Horizon Racing Team
- (44) Brian Mercurio – Lowline Racing
- (6) Jarl Teien – SIMUCUBE ineX Racing
- (62) Anthony Burroughs – Nexxus eSports
- (74) Taylor Hurst – LockDown Racing
POINTS STANDINGS AFTER AUTO CLUB
- Allen Boes_________+41
- Femi Olat_________+40
- Mitchell deJong_____+36
- Michael Guest______+29
- Malik Ray_________+28
- Garrett Manes______+22
- Ashton Crowder_____+21
- Ryan Doucette______+19
- Nathan Lyon_______+19
- Eddie Kerner_______+19
- Jake Matheson______+18
- Chris Overland______+17
- Santiago Tirres______+17
- Eric J. Smith________+15
- Blade Whitt________+15
- Matt Bussa________+12
- Dylan Duval________+9
- Derek Justis________+8
- Zack Novak________+7
- Isaac Gann________+7
- Vicente Salas_______+6
- Steven Wilson_______-6
- Anthony Burroughs____-7
- Jarl Teien__________-9
- Michael Guariglia_____-12
- Brian Schoenburg_____-12
- Kollin Keister________-13
- Danny Hansen_______-16
- Justin Bolton________-17
- Collin Bowden_______-17
- Zack Nichols________-19
- Steve Sheehan_______-19
- Alex McCollum_______-19
- Brian Mercurio_______-22
- Taylor Hurst________-22
- Donovan Strauss_____-22
- Seth DeMerchant____-22
- Michael Gonzales____-23
- Jose Solis Jr._______-25
- Brandon Hayse Kettelle -25
Check out the photo gallery from Tuesday night’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Series event at Auto Club Speedway! Photos by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.
Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com