Tinsley Soaks In Fast Start To eNASCAR Season


Recent eNASCAR winner Wyatt Tinsley was in attendance for Speedweeks presented by AdventHealth at Daytona Int'l Speedway. (Jacob Seelman photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – You’ll have to forgive Wyatt Tinsley for not being able to wipe the smile off his face since winning the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season opener.

After all, it’s not often that one gets to go from racing on the simulated version of a racetrack to visiting its real-life counterpart within a week’s time.

Tinsley, who collected the victory in the 200-mile race at the virtual Daytona Int’l Speedway that kicked off the Coca-Cola Series season on Feb. 13, got the chance to celebrate both his win and his coming-of-age in style at the World Center of Racing during Daytona Speedweeks presented by AdventHealth.

The Hampton, Va., native was in attendance for the final three scheduled days of Speedweeks, Feb. 16-18, including the Friday-night NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and ARCA Menards Series doubleheader created due to the worsening weather forecast throughout the weekend.

While the rain meant he ultimately wasn’t able to stay until Monday for the rescheduled NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 and NASCAR Xfinity Series United Rentals 300, Tinsley still felt like “a kid in a candy store” just from the opportunity to see in person the track he had virtually conquered just days earlier.

“It’s just amazing,” said Tinsley, who drives for the Kansas City Pioneers eSports Team, of experiencing a NASCAR weekend in person at Daytona. “I’m beyond happy to have been at Daytona. “It was an unreal experience, and to see a bunch of people that I know [through iRacing] like Kaden Honeycutt and Rajah Caruth who are racing on the big stage gives me hope that I can be there one day. It’s an amazing experience, like I said.

“The track is enormous, so I had to laugh a bit just because it took me a while to get into the infield and figure out where and how to get around, but everything about being there was pretty unforgettable.”

Tinsley turned 18 the day before his breakthrough Coca-Cola Series victory, meaning that earning the Daytona win was “the icing on the cake” to the plans he and his family had already set in motion.

“My aunt and her fiancé were already going to fly me out to Daytona and bring me down for my 18th birthday, so to add the aspect and the storyline with the win made it even more special,” he explained. “You can’t script that or plan for a moment like that. It was just really, really cool how it all worked out.”

In reflecting on his start to the eNASCAR season – where Tinsley won both the exhibition Clash and the season-opening points race, both at Daytona – he said that it took until the flight down for Speedweeks before his recent accomplishments really began sinking in.

“I was on the plane, and I finally let myself say out loud, ‘I really just won an eNASCAR Coke race, in my sophomore season, at Daytona.’ I mean, that’s not easy to do … and sweeping the Clash and the first points-paying race, that’s an exclusive club,” Tinsley noted.

It’s a club of one, in fact, as Tinsley became the first driver since the Clash became an official eNASCAR exhibition race in 2020 to follow up their Clash win with a subsequent victory in the opener.

When told that, Tinsley could do little but shake his head in surprise.

“We’re making history here,” he said with a laugh.

Daytona won’t be the only NASCAR weekend that Tinsley will experience in person this year, as he’ll have sponsor obligations with the Pioneers during the May 4-5 NASCAR weekend at Kansas Speedway.

“Sam [Kulikov, Pioneers founder] and Darius [Boyd, Pioneers’ director of eNASCAR operations] told me the goal was to win races and do so in style, and I’d say we’ve definitely done that so far,” Tinsley laughed. “We’ll have some activations to do around the Kansas races that should be a lot of fun … and they’ve been a joy to work with since I came into the Coca-Cola Series last year with them. I can’t say enough thanks for all their support so far, and now I hope to continue growing alongside their team.”

Looking beyond the opener toward the rest of the 18-race season, Tinsley was quick to note that his focus is able to adjust slightly, given that – just like the stars of NASCAR’s three national series – his eNASCAR win at Daytona all but locks him into the playoffs, as long as he stays inside the top-20 in regular season points.

“Since we are pretty much in the playoffs now, the goal is to stay above the top 20 line, and hopefully with that be able to chase some more playoff points and wins along the way,” Tinsley explained. “Next week at Vegas, maybe we could go three for three? We’ll see how it goes; I don’t want to get ahead of myself at all, but that’s always the goal to shoot for.”


Wyatt Tinsley celebrates after winning the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series opener at the virtual Daytona Int'l Speedway. (Justin Melillo/NASCAR photo)

That target would make for another piece of history, as no driver has ever gone back-to-back to open an eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season, dating back to its inception in 2010 as the iRacing Driver’s World Championship.

While Tinsley is eager to take on that challenge, he also took a moment inside the infield FanZone at Daytona to look around and soak in the enormity of his recent accomplishments.

“It’s a dream come true to win these races and be on the big stage like this,” he noted. “Truthfully, it’s beyond my expectations because I’m just excited to be here at this point. I still can’t stop smiling. It’s an honor to show off eNASCAR as a whole and be a representative for the series, and the goal is for this to be just the beginning throughout the year.”

And, knowing that fellow iRacing stalwarts Caruth and Honeycutt have used the simulation service to launch their careers onto the real-life stage in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Tinsley tipped that he’d be interested in following the same path – even if he doesn’t quite know what that looks like yet.

“Hopefully, I could be where Rajah and Kaden are now someday,” Tinsley said. “Never say never, right?”

Tinsley and the rest of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series field will return to action Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. ET at the virtual Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway, for round two of the 18-race calendar.

Every eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series event can be streamed live at eNASCAR.com/live.

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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.