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William Byron conquers in caution-filled battle at Bristol

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William Byron celebrates victory at the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 5th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

THE VIRTUAL BRISTOL, Tenn. – Virtual sheet metal clashed, the yellow flag waved often from the virtual flag stand, as emotions and tempers were at an all-time high on Sunday afternoon.

There was only one driver who was able to stay above all the mayhem, that being William Byron, winner and dominator in the FOOD CITY Showdown at the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway.

Byron started on the pole, led a bunch until finally pitting around halfway, took the lead back from Chris Buescher with 43 laps to go, and never looked back.

“I thought we had a pretty solid race,” Byron said post-race in a teleconference with NASCAR Media. “Obviously, there was a lot to kind of decipher through and try to get through, but I thought we stayed up close to the front. We had the one tire strategy call that got us back to the Top 5, and then we just had to work through the Top 5 methodically after that.

“I was really proud of how we kind of did things, and thankful for Nick Ottinger, who kind of helps me on my eSports team (William Byron eSports), and AXALTA for letting us run this cool paint scheme. It looks awesome. Hopefully we can it run it sometime in the real Cup car. I had a lot of fun.”

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William Byron crosses the line to win at the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 5th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Byron dominated the day, and was able to hold off some of the best, including last week’s winner, Timmy Hill, who finished third, and the Homestead-Miami Speedway winner, Denny Hamlin, who finished fourth.

This was the first race where no drivers qualified in via qualifying race event. All 32 drivers who were invited and showed up got to participate.

A separate event was run on Saturday evening for many NASCAR Xfinity, Gander Trucks, and ARCA Series drivers, and was won by Logan Seavey.

The race on Sunday saw 12 cautions for 66 laps in the 150 lap event. Byron, by far, led the most laps, at 116 on the day, with only Buescher (30 laps led) and Landon Cassill (4 laps led) leading otherwise.

Six cars failed to finish the race on Sunday. Bubba Wallace was one of those, as he had a run in with Clint Bowyer early into the show, and wound up retiring only nine laps in with a Fast Repair or two still left in his arsenal.

A “rage quit” moment.

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Bubba Wallace at the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 5th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Wallace’s sponsor for his virtual ride, Blue-Emu Pain Relief, did not find the “rage quit” and following tweets regarding the decision to park to be in the company’s best interest. Blue-Emu Pain Relief also sponsored Cassill in the race, and Cassill persevered through multiple incidents to finish 20th.

Chase Elliott also found himself on the wrong side of things, or rather, the upside down side of things, as he tumbled to a rest on his roof only 30 laps into the race. Elliott finished 30th.

Once again, Daniel Suárez found himself on the wrong side of the iRacing administration for the second week in a row. After being parked at Texas Motor Speedway for attempting to retaliate on Ty Dillon, Suarez still came back for another round, this time to get parked and disqualified along with Kyle Larson.

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John Hunter Nemechek (38) held off Ryan Preece (37) to win the second heat race at the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 5th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

On the more positive side of things, John Hunter Nemechek had a fantastic showing in second place. For the first time, the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series featured two 50-lap heat races to set the line up for the main event.

Byron was the winner of the first heat after setting the pole speed, but it was Nemechek holding off Ryan Preece at the line to win the second heat.

The heat races ran caution-free by design. There were incidents in those races, but the iRacing officials withheld the yellow flag.

***

The show rolls on in to Richmond Raceway for the fourth installment of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series, but a date has not yet been announced for the event just yet. Next weekend is Easter Sunday.

The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series will also head to Richmond Raceway for their fifth race of the 2020 season, that to take place on Tuesday, April 14th, at 9:00 pm ET on eNASCAR.com/live.

 

SOURCES:
iRacing
NASCAR Media

RACE RESULTS:

  1. 24 – William Byron
  2. 38 – John Hunter Nemecheck
  3. 66 – Timmy Hill
  4. 11 – Denny Hamlin
  5. 21 – Matt DiBenedetto
  6. 37 – Ryan Preece
  7. 77 – Parker Kligerman
  8. 31 – Tyler Reddick
  9. 51 – Garrett Smithley
  10. 34 – Michael McDowell
  11. 14 – Clint Bowyer
  12. 95 – Christopher Bell
  13. 19 – Bobby Labonte
  14. 88 – Alex Bowman
  15. 3 – Austin Dillon
  16. 6 – Ross Chastain
  17. 22 – Joey Logano
  18. 18 – Kyle Busch
  19. 1 – Kurt Busch
  20. 89 – Landon Cassill
  21. 48 – Jimmie Johnson
  22. 8 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  23. 17 – Chris Buescher
  24. 2 – Brad Keselowski
  25. 13 – Ty Dillon
  26. 12 – Ryan Blaney
  27. 96 – Daniel Suárez
  28. 47 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  29. 42 – Kyle Larson
  30. 9 – Chase Elliott
  31. 20 – Erik Jones
  32. 43 – Bubba Wallace
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Justin Melillo View All

Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com

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