Reigning eNASCAR Champ Wilson Tames The Monster Mile


Steven Wilson en route to victory at the virtual Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway. (Justin Melillo/NASCAR photo)

DOVER, Del. – In one of the most thrilling overtime finishes in the history of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, Steven Wilson stole his second win of the year Tuesday night at the virtual Dover Motor Speedway.

Leading only eight laps all night, Wilson was at his best when it mattered most, putting together a perfect restart on the only overtime attempt of the race to ultimately defeat rival Tucker Minter.

After sticking to Minter’s outside through turns one and two, the lead pair made heavy contact off turn two that broke their momentum. That allowed third-running Kaden Honeycutt to surge to the highest part of Dover’s concrete banking, making it a three-wide battle for the win coming to the white flag.

But Honeycutt sailed deep into the corner, getting his No. 8 loose enough that Wilson and Minter were able to clear him into a two-horse fight on the last lap.

From there, Wilson cleared Minter for good in turn one and came back to the finish line to earn his second win of the season and the seventh of his career.

The defending series champion took the checkered flag a scant .094 seconds clear of Minter in the end.

“That [finish] was pretty wild, I’d say,” noted Wilson, whose victory for M80 eSports moved him into sole possession of eighth all-time.

“On the restart, I timed it OK, but I didn’t want to beat [Minter] to the line because I was on the outside. With more banking and with two tires that had about 80 laps on them, they were spinning a lot, so I lifted to try not to get to the line first,” Wilson continued. “The restart before overtime, he was able to clear me before [turn] two, and it looked like he was trying to do that again.

“A win in this series means everything for playoff [eligibility], so I don’t blame Tucker for that, but I honestly thought Caden had us beat into [turn] three there. Once he drove it in as deep as he did, I was able to come out of turn four clear coming to the white and didn’t look back after that.”

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The night’s first caution didn’t wave until lap 39, as fading tires caused contact and chaos throughout the field. It led to a squeeze play off turn four, where Taylor Hurst and Malik Ray got together and spun across the track, leading to a multi-car melee on the frontstretch.

Virtually the entire field came down for pit service as a result, with Kaden Honeycutt taking two tires and inheriting the top spot as a result. Honeycutt used a strong restart at lap 43 to assume control of the field, while Garrett Manes and Donovan Strauss pressured him for the first 10 laps after the green.

Strauss passed Manes to reclaim the runner-up spot on lap 51, holding that position behind Honeycutt at the halfway point of the race, with Tucker Minter, Garrett Manes, and Wilson making up the balance of the top five. Minter then went on the charge at lap 64, assuming the second position from Strauss.

That battle allowed Honeycutt to open up a full second advantage over the field, as further back, Wilson worked to rally from a slow pit stop that dropped him back to seventh and found himself third with 50 to go.

Meanwhile, Minter became the man on the move as the race wound further into its second half, methodically cutting into Honeycutt’s advantage as the two-tire call for the No. 8 began to show its drawbacks. He finally made a slide job pass stick with 45 to go, grabbing the lead in turn two.

Wilson wasn’t done fighting, however, moving to within a second of the top two inside of 40 to go and grabbing second from Honeycutt moments before a three-wide battle between Kollin Keister, Garrett Manes, and Casey Kirwan went wrong off turn four and brought out the second yellow of the night.

The crash, which occurred coming to 35 to go, also collected Jordy Lopez in its aftermath and led to a bevy of two-tire pit stops throughout the field – with the top 28 all utilizing the same strategy.

Racing resumed at full speed with 30 to go, with Minter getting a masterful jump to hold the lead as Wilson and Honeycutt scrapped for second briefly behind him. Wilson got clear in roughly two laps, closing in on Minter and nearly contacting the No. 97 with 26 to go off turn two.

The battle didn’t get heated until 19 to go, however, when Wilson dove to the bottom of turn one and got all the way alongside Minter and raced door-to-door down the backstretch. The two traded paint before Minter pinched Wilson down in turn three to hold serve out front as Wilson’s car got loose.

The defending series champion didn’t give up, making nearly the exact same move in turn three with 17 to go and battling Minter hard down into one and two the next time by. However, a caution for a wreck between Collin Bowden and Garrett Lowe froze the field with Minter in front and set up an 11-lap dash.

A furious wheel-to-wheel battle ensued after the restart, with both Minter and Wilson leaning on one another for nearly three straight laps before a crash down the backstretch for Manes, Taylor Hurst, and Jonathon Dulaney forced another slowdown with eight to go and really ratcheted the intensity up.

Minter brought the field to green with four laps left, using a perfect launch to clear Wilson and Honeycutt behind him, but a Garrett Lowe crash forced overtime after the fifth yellow of the night.

That led to the dramatic final two laps, with Minter hanging on for runner-up honors despite several wild moments along the way.

Wilson Minter Honeycutt

Steven Wilson (10) battles Tucker Minter (97) and Kaden Honeycutt on the final restart Tuesday night at Dover Motor Speedway. (Justin Melillo/NASCAR photo)

“It’s frustrating to come as close as we did [to a win] and not be able to seal the deal,” admitted Minter. “We got a rash of late-race cautions, and it just gave everybody a chance to get a bunch of restarts on me. “I felt like I raced Steven pretty cleanly and he raced me pretty cleanly in return; I’m just getting sick and tired of running second to him [laughter].

“I wasn’t going to go into turn three and just run him over for a win,” he added. “I don’t race like that, and I don’t think that’s right. At least we weren’t wrecked on lap four and we’ll move on to Talladega.”

After starting from the pole for the first time this season but losing the lead before the first caution flag, Strauss rallied back to a third-place finish for Williams eSports. Wilson’s teammate Ryan Luza and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Bobby Zalenski crossed fourth and fifth, respectively.

Sixth was Williams eSports’ Parker White, while JR Motorsports’ Honeycutt faded to seventh after tagging the outside wall coming to the white flag.

William Byron eSports’ Nick Ottinger, who entered as the three-time defending Dover winner, could only muster eighth place at the end of the night. Oxygen eSports’ Zack Novak and Tony Kanaan eSports’ Vicente Salas rounded out the top 10.

Wyatt Tinsley, who entered the night as a pre-race favorite at the Monster Mile, started 39th and had raced his way into the top 15 before chaos during the overtime attempt relegated him to a 33rd-place finish for the Kansas City Pioneers.

The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season continues May 7 at the virtual Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for its second fixed-setup, drafting race of the season. Casey Kirwan is the defending winner at the 2.66-mile oval.

A replay of every eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series event is available via iRacing’s YouTube channel.

RESULTS: eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series; Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway; April 23, 2024

1. 10-Steven Wilson [2], 2. 97-Tucker Minter [6], 3. 51-Donovan Strauss [1], 4. 80-Ryan Luza [22], 5. 18-Bobby Zalenski [3], 6. 53-Parker White [4], 7. 8-Kaden Honeycutt [5], 8. 25-Nick Ottinger [13], 9. 5-Zack Novak [14], 10. 11-Vicente Salas [37], 11. 88-Briar LaPradd [17], 12. 90-Jordy Lopez [25], 13. 14-Seth DeMerchant [32], 14. 55-Ryan Doucette [33], 15. 41-Dylan Duval [15], 16. 34-Darik Bourdeau [7], 17. 77-Casey Kirwan [20], 18. 45-Michael Guest [38], 19. 54-Daniel Faulkingham [34], 20. 62-Matt Bussa [9], 21. 48-Graham Bowlin [11], 22. 27-Cody Byus [16], 23. 99-Matthew Zwack [27], 24. 36-Quami Scott [26], 25. 29-Jimmy Mullis [23], 26. 40-Dylan Ault [29], 27. 69-Ray Alfalla [36], 28. 3-Jonathon Dulaney [28], 29. 33-Taylor Hurst [12], 30. 22-Femi Olatunbosun [24], 31. 7-Malik Ray [21], 32. 38-Michael Cosey Jr. [18], 33-Wyatt Tinsley [39], 34. 89-Garrett Lowe [35], 35. 42-Tyler Garey [40], 36. 6-Timmy Holmes [8], 37. 12-Garrett Manes [19], 38. 23-Keegan Leahy [31], 39. 17-Collin Bowden [30], 40. 66-Kollin Keister [10].

Lead Changes: Five among four different drivers.

Lap Leader(s): Donovan Strauss Grid, Steven Wilson 1-3, Donovan Strauss 4-37, Steven Wilson 38-40, Kaden Honeycutt 41-75, Tucker Minter 76-121, Steven Wilson 122-123.

Laps Led: Tucker Minter 46, Kaden Honeycutt 35, Donovan Strauss 34, Steven Wilson 8.

Hard Charger: Vicente Salas (+27)

Pole Position: 51-Donovan Strauss, 22.554 seconds (159.617 mph); second career and first of season

Rookie of the Race: 14-Seth DeMerchant (13th)

Caution Flags: Five for 19 laps

Winning Team: M80 eSports

Margin of Victory: 0.094 seconds

Time of Race: One hour, four minutes, 54.269 seconds

Average Speed: 113.706 mph

Fastest Lap: 10-Steven Wilson, Lap 93, 22.896 seconds (157.233 mph)

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.