Strategy Lifts Wilson In Chaotic Richmond eNASCAR Tilt


Steven Wilson celebrates after winning Tuesday night's eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series stop at the virtual Richmond Raceway. (Justin Melillo/NASCAR photo)

RICHMOND, Va. – Track position and late-race chaos were the keys to Steven Wilson’s return to eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series victory lane Tuesday night at Richmond Raceway.

After jumping to the lead at lap 39 with a two-tire pit stop under caution, Wilson held off all comers through the grind of three overtime restarts at the three-quarter-mile paved oval.

Though a multi-car crash broke out in the back of the field late, it was after Wilson had already taken the white flag, leaving him to come back around to the finish line at full song.

The M80 eSports driver ultimately took the checkered flag in front of a side-by-side duel for the runner-up spot between Tucker Minter and Zack Novak, earning his sixth career series win by .376 of a second.

It broke a winless drought for the defending series champion dating back to March of 2023 at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway.

“This win shows how important it was for us to execute in qualifying and the heat races,” said Wilson, who started second and led the most laps Tuesday night. “It was really hard to make passes up front. We had one good [green-flag] run in the feature and then it came down to making sure that we got the lead after pit stops.

“I’m really happy for the M80 guys to get them into victory lane; just proud to have a win here, because I was really down on myself a couple of years ago for how bad I was at short tracks,” Wilson added. “I’ve been trying to grind and learn, and we’ve been performing better than ever at them now. We’ll see what happens going forward but this is a great night and a great win for us as a group.”

With a unique heat-race format before the 70-lap feature, Michael Cosey Jr. and Wilson earned front-row starting spots by virtue of their wire-to-wire performances in the 25-lap qualifying sprints.

Cosey jumped out to the early lead, despite a lap-three melee that generated the first caution flag of the night, pacing the first 38 laps before the lone pit cycle of the race shuffled the deck up front.

During that round of service, which was sparked by a Ray Alfalla spin that drew the night’s second of eight yellow flags, Wilson led a group of five drivers that took two tires in an effort to maximize track position for the second half of the race.

From there, Wilson came out with the lead and never trailed again, leading the final 45 laps unchallenged as madness reigned behind him.

A multi-car skirmish involving Matthew Zwack, Tyler Garey, Taylor Hurst, Garrett Lowe, and others with five laps left in regulation ultimately sent the race into extra distance, with the first two overtime attempts resulting in additional carnage down the backstretch that forced yellows prior to the white flag.

The final green flag came 11 laps into overtime, with Wilson getting a perfect jump on the race-deciding restart and pulling away from Minter over the final two circuits.

Though Minter wasn’t able to collect the trophy, he was relieved to exit Richmond with a solid finish after three rough outings to start the season for his William Byron eSports team.

“I didn’t lose confidence in the team, but it always makes you look at yourself internally when you have as hard a start to the year as we have,” Minter noted after the race. “This was much needed for us and I’m pretty thankful now that we have the reset for the next segment and can go out and attack again.”

Past series champion Zack Novak crossed third for Oxygen eSports, just ahead of Spire Motorsports’ Casey Kirwan, whose fourth-place finish netted him a $3,000 bonus as the highest points earner in the first regular-season segment this year.

Kaden Honeycutt was fifth, followed by Vicente Salas, Jimmy Mullis, Garrett Manes, Cosey, and Nick Ottinger.

All three of the season’s prior winners struggled Tuesday night, with Atlanta winner Malik Ray finishing the best of the trio in 16th place.

Las Vegas winner Keegan Leahy was 27th and Daytona winner Wyatt Tinsley finished a frustrating 36th.

The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season continues April 9 at the virtual Brands Hatch Circuit in England, featuring a 15-lap sprint race followed by a 30-lap main event.

Brands Hatch will mark the milestone 250th event in series history, dating back to its roots in 2010 as the Driver’s World Championship.

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

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RESULTS: eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series; Richmond (Va.) Raceway; March 26, 2024

Race (70 laps): 1. 10-Steven Wilson [2], 2. 97-Tucker Minter [9], 3. 5-Zack Novak [4], 4. 77-Casey Kirwan [8], 5. 8-Kaden Honeycutt [19], 6. 11-Vicente Salas [5], 7. 29-Jimmy Mullis [6], 8. 12-Garrett Manes [29], 9. 38-Michael Cosey Jr. [1], 10. 25-Nick Ottinger [3], 11. 89-Garrett Lowe [11], 12. 62-Matt Bussa [15], 13. 88-Briar LaPradd [13], 14. 90-Jordy Lopez [10], 15. 41-Dylan Duval [12], 16. 7-Malik Ray [14], 17. 54-Daniel Faulkingham [21], 18. 3-Jonathon Dulaney [28], 19. 6-Timothy Holmes [18], 20. 51-Donovan Strauss [35], 21. 45-Michael Guest [25], 22. 34-Darik Bourdeau [30], 23. 33-Taylor Hurst [23], 24. 18-Bobby Zalenski [40], 25. 36-Quami Scott [36], 26. 55-Ryan Doucette [24], 27. 23-Keegan Leahy [32], 28. 40-Dylan Ault [22], 29. 48-Graham Bowlin [17], 30. 53-Parker White [20], 31. 69-Ray Alfalla [38], 32. 42-Tyler Garey [37], 33. 22-Femi Olatunbosun [39], 34. 66-Kollin Keister [7], 35. 99-Matthew Zwack [27], 36. 20-Wyatt Tinsley [26], 37. 27-Cody Byus [33], 38. 80-Ryan Luza [31], 39. 14-Seth DeMerchant [34], 40. 17-Collin Bowden [16].

Lead Changes: One among two different drivers

Lap Leader(s): Michael Cosey Jr. 1-38, Steven Wilson 39-83.

Laps Led: Steven Wilson 45, Michael Cosey Jr. 38.

Hard Charger: 12-Garrett Manes (+21)

Pole Position: Michael Cosey Jr., 21.815 seconds (123.768 mph); First career and first of season

Rookie of the Race: 3-Jonathon Dulaney

Caution Flags: Eight for 36 laps.

Winning Team: M80 eSports

Margin of Victory: 0.376 seconds

Time of Race: 47 minutes, 19.609 seconds

Average Speed: 78.306 mph

Fastest Lap: 10-Steven Wilson, Lap 83, 22.243 seconds (121.387 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.