After a thrilling conclusion to the seventh round of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season at Kansas Speedway, Wood Brothers Racing driver Garrett Lowe took home his first victory of the year and the second of his career on Tuesday night (10th May) at Kansas Speedway.
In the closing laps, Graham A. Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix) and Mitchell deJong (23XI Racing) were on two tires, while Casey Kirwan (XSET) and Lowe were on four. Bowlin wasn’t able to hold it and attempted one last ditch effort to maintain the lead. It backfired, sending him into the virtual barrier and deJong as Lowe and Kirwan scooted away.
On the final restart, Lowe held off a final charge from Daytona winner Femi Olatunbosun (Clint Bowyer Racing) to capture the checkered flag and all but clinch his place in the 2022 playoffs. The win elevated him to 14th in the overall standings, 26 points ahead of the Top 20 line, the requirement to be able to use a win towards making the playoffs.
“We’ve been waiting to turn the season around all year,” Lowe said post-race. “We got off to a decent start, but then we kind of just fell into a hole and we were trying to dig ourselves out. I just can’t thank this Legacy eSports crew enough for giving me a fantastic Motorcraft Ford Mustang. This car was on rails, all night… we came in strong at the end there and finished it off.”
The win marks Lowe’s second career victory and his first since 2019 where he was able to score one at Michigan International Speedway. As long as there isn’t more than 10 winners and Lowe can maintain his place in the Top 20, he’ll be one of the drivers battling for a title in 2022.
OFF-STRATEGY CALLS DETERMINE RACE OUTCOME
The race was a weird one for strategy. After the first caution of the night for a couple of drivers in the midfield, strategies immediately began to unravel early. Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) stayed out to take the race lead while Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Esports) opted for two. The majority of the leaders opted for four tires, but they were mired in the midfield in exchange.
This wound up as the reason Nick Ottinger (William Byron eSports) wasn’t able to claim his third victory in a row. On the ensuing wacky restart, as Wilson was able to grab the lead, a couple of the four-tire-taking drivers got jumbled behind the slower cars and collided, ruining Ottinger and JR Motorsports’ Michael Conti.
When they went back racing, the two-tire drivers seemed to have the advantage still. Bowlin was able to take the lead for a little bit before another caution flew, this time for an errant Ray Alfalla (Joe Gibbs Racing).
Wilson would resume the lead and went on to lead the most laps on the night, but a caution many laps later from a spun Donovan Strauss (Williams Esports) jumbled things up again. Corey Vincent (Team Dillon Esports) and Malik Ray (iRacing Motorsport) led the field to the green, and as they took on the backstretch, Wilson collided with the other Charlotte Phoenix driver Kollin Keister.
This set off a chain reaction that ended up destroying Logan Clampitt (William Byron eSports), severely harming Wilson, and further damaging Ottinger. The second to last restart pinned two tires against four. Through some elbows-out racing which ended Bowlin and deJong’s nights, it left the four-tire call of Lowe as the victorious one.
LOGITECH G UP FRONT EARLY, OUT LATE
The night started off with a pair of Logitech G sponsored cars on the front row. A virtual tie for the top spot was skewed in favor of deJong, who claimed the pole as Clampitt was shunned to start second. deJong took the field to the green and led early on in the event.
Clampitt, who needed a good finish to kick start his season, maintained often inside the Top 5 and Top 10 all night. His teammate Ottinger looked to take on the bad luck for once after his incident with Conti early on.
Ottinger was able to keep fighting, and at one point looked to have most of the damage fixed. That’s when disaster struck for both William Byron eSports drivers. As drivers ahead restarted with no tires, the fresher tires all tried to avoid in their own way.
As Keister and Wilson collided, Clampitt tried to avoid and wound up once again face first into a wall. Ottinger had nowhere to go and was collected.
deJong was the last standing of the Logitech G machines, and on the second to last restart, he looked to have a fighting chance. Unfortunately, his day was ruined when Bowlin went up and into the wall, straight into deJong’s lane.
Despite the carnage, deJong managed a Top 20 still. Ottinger was relegated to a 30th place effort. For the fifth time in seven races, Clampitt had a finish below 30th, coming home in 36th.
TEAM DILLON ESPORTS TAKES OVER TOP TEAM SPOT
It was a gutsy call for Vincent to stay out, and even though it didn’t work the way he’d hoped, he still managed a Top 15 run. His teammate Taylor Hurst was consistent all night and took home a seventh place at the end of the night.
The combined results catapulted the duo to the top of the team standings, only two points ahead of Jim Beaver eSports. The Beaver boys had some solid runs, with Michael Guest picking up an eighth to lead the team. Blake Reynolds had a moment in which he should have been towing back to the virtual garage, but managed to not only not get decimated, but also kept the car from spinning, recovering for 21st.
The former team leaders at Stewart-Haas Esports fell down to third after an up and down evening. It looked like their drivers would have a decent day from Wilson’s dominance alone, but he wound up 23rd when it was all said and done. Dylan Duval was damaged early on but persevered to finish in 18th.
Halfway through the regular season, it looks as though those three teams have pulled away from the rest of the pack.
NEXT UP: MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND CLASSIC AT CHARLOTTE
With Olatunbosun back on top of the standings and presumably half of the 10-driver playoff field set already, the series returns in two weeks to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the eighth race of the 2022 season.
Last year, Ray Alfalla scored his last victory in the series in a late race battle against Malik Ray. The year prior, Kollin Keister was able to score his one and only series victory in dominant fashion. Other Charlotte oval winners in the field include Keegan Leahy and Nick Ottinger.
Tune in at 8:30 p.m. ET on 10th May to see it all unfold. Things will kick off with the Countdown to Green for a half-hour before the main cast starts at 9:00 p.m. ET. The broadcast will be available at eNASCAR.com/live or on the iRacing Social Channels.
RACE #7 – KANSAS SPEEDWAY – TOP 10 RESULTS
|1||28||21||Garrett Lowe||Wood Brothers Racing||100 LAPS||10||40|
|2||14||79||Femi Olatunbosun||Clint Bowyer Racing||+0.366 sec||0||35|
|3||11||95||Casey Kirwan||XSET||+1.099 sec||1||34|
|4||34||19||Vicente Salas||Williams Esports||+1.122 sec||0||33|
|5||12||20||Donovan Strauss||Williams Esports||+1.171 sec||0||32|
|6||24||5||Zack Novak||Rise eSports||+1.525 sec||0||31|
|7||10||33||Taylor Hurst||Team Dillon Esports||+1.554 sec||0||30|
|8||21||9||Michael Guest||Jim Beaver eSports||+1.554 sec||0||29|
|9||35||2||Liam Brotherton||Elliott Sadler Esports||+1.721 sec||0||28|
|10||22||88||Briar LaPradd||JR Motorsports||+1.886 sec||0||27|
PLAYOFF STANDINGS AFTER RACE #7 – KANSAS
|1||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron eSports||2||199||5||5|
|2||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||2||157||3||3|
|3||79||Femi Olatunbosun||Clint Bowyer Racing||1||203||3||4|
|4||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas eSports||1||198||4||4|
|5||21||Garrett Lowe||Wood Brothers Racing||1||136||1||2|
|6||75||Matt Bussa||Mode Motorsports||0||179 (+21)||1||4|
|7||95||Casey Kirwan||XSET||0||178 (+20)||2||5|
|8||15||Blake Reynolds||Jim Beaver eSports||0||169 (+11)||1||3|
|9||33||Taylor Hurst||Team Dillon Esports||0||168 (+10)||0||4|
|10||3||Corey Vincent||Team Dillon Esports||0||162 (+4)||2||4|
TEAM STANDINGS AFTER RACE #7 – KANSAS
|1||3 | 33||Team Dillon Esports||318 (—)|
|2||9 | 15||Jim Beaver eSports||316 (-2)|
|3||10 | 41||Stewart-Haas eSports||310 (-8)|
|4||4 | 95||XSET||273 (-45)|
|5||14 | 79||Clint Bowyer Racing||266 (-52)|
|5||43 | 48||Charlotte Phoenix||266 (-52)|
|7||8 | 88||JR Motorsports||256 (-62)|
|7||5 | 46||Rise eSports||256 (-62)|
|9||25 | 97||William Byron eSports||255 (-63)|
|10||2 | 31||Elliott Sadler Esports||246 (-72)|
RACE #7 – KANSAS SPEEDWAY – BOX SCORE:
- 6 cautions for 23 laps
- 10 lead changes among seven drivers
- Most laps led: No. 10 Steven Wilson (38)
- Fastest lap: No. 95 Casey Kirwan (Lap 84, 30.709 secs)
- Rookie of the race: No. 20 Donovan Strauss (5th place)
2022 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE
|24-May-22||8||Charlotte Motor Speedway||100|
|31-May-22||9||World Wide Technology Raceway||120|
|16-Aug-22||13||Watkins Glen Int’l||35|
|13-Sep-22||PO1 | 15||Bristol Motor Speedway||175|
|27-Sep-22||PO2 | 16||Talladega Superspeedway||70|
|11-Oct-22||PO3 | 17||Homestead-Miami Speedway||100|
|25-Oct-22||C4F | 18||Phoenix Raceway||110|