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eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Steven Wilson scores statement win at Road America

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Steven Wilson makes statement at Road America

Steven Wilson scored his second win of the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season on Tuesday night (5th July 2022) at Road America after leading every lap in the event.

Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Esports) made a statement on Tuesday night (5th July 2022) following Road America. With only three races remaining in the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Regular Season, Wilson is a winner once again after leading every lap in virtual Wisconsin.

Against the eNASCAR road racing specialists in the field, Wilson outlasted them all, winning the pole en route to leading every lap and scoring the victory. Just about the only thing he didn’t do was put down the fastest lap of the race.

With last year’s road king, Mitchell deJong (23XI Racing), breathing down his neck, as well as other road aces such as Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing), Graham A. Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix), Casey Kirwan (XSET) and Vicente Salas (Williams Esports), Wilson ran an absolutely perfect race from green to checkered.

The leaders opted to all pit with seven laps to go in the 25 lap event. Even with deJong gaining nearly a second on the one-and-only pit stop of the night, Wilson brought it home for his second win of the season and of his career.

One of the top drivers on the entire season, Wilson made it known what his focus is in the final seven races of the season. “We’re winning a championship, that’s what we’re here for,” Wilson said confidently during the post-race winner’s chat.

Wilson moves solely into the lead of both the Driver’s Standings with a 16 point lead over Matt Bussa (Mode Motorsports) as well as into the top seeded position of the Playoff Grid, tied with Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports) and Michael Conti (JR Motorsports) at two wins.

EARLY FIREWORKS

Wilson led the field to the green flag and was able to pull more than two seconds over the rest before the end of Turn 1. The reason was due to a side-by-side play between deJong and Bowlin for second place. Heading down the backstretch, deJong would claim the spot with Bowlin, Kirwan, Salas, Zalenski and Dylan Duval (Stewart-Haas Esports) all trying to figure it out.

Off of Turn 6, Duval became incapacitated as he and Salas made contact heading toward Turn 7. The spin wasn’t too bad, as he avoided major contact, only receiving some Canadian-on-Canadian contact from Keegan Leahy (23XI Racing).

As the field attempted to avoid the spinning, Dylan Ault (LETARTE Esports) and Bussa would end up around before the entrance to Turn 8. Meanwhile, Duval was attempting to get back going, but more contact, this time with Parker Retzlaff (RFK Racing), sent the No. 41 into the tires and out of the race early.

Leahy would continue to struggle following the contact with Duval. Four laps into it, he slid off the course at the aptly named Canada Corner and into the tires. That would lead to his early demise and a debilitating 39th place finish.

The most recent winner before Road America, 4-Time Ray Alfalla (Joe Gibbs Racing) wound up involved as well in the Duval spins. He never was able to recover, as in eNASCAR road races, caution flags are turned off. Alfalla managed to stay on the lead lap, but was the last to do so, finishing 35th.

Nickolas Shelton (Clint Bowyer Racing) also retired early, finishing 38th, while Derek Justis (iRacing Motorsports) was the only other driver to lose a lap, finishing 36th. Duval did return to the track, but limped home to a 37th.

NO-TIRE STRATEGY IN PLAY

This season, the Road America event shaved six laps off of the length of last season’s race. While that might not seem like too much, the venue is 4.048-miles in length, so essentially the field lost just shy of 25 miles from the race.

Whether that made any difference or not, the new NASCAR NEXT Gen definitely threw a wrench into the strategies throughout the field anyway. With a few extra gallons in the tank, plus a tire model that seemed to gain speed as it wore out, the winning move looked to be fuel-only throughout the top running drivers.

As there would be no cautions, an earlier pit call wouldn’t be possibly as advantageous since the yellow would never fly. Maybe for tires, but as it turned out, none of the Top 6 finishing drivers who all pulled more than ten seconds (and in some cases, more than 20 seconds) over the rest of the field opted for fresh virtual rubber during their pit call, which came with seven laps to go.

Fuel strategy would be about the only strategy call, whether to take a certain amount or whatever. Getting on and off pit road would also be key. A pit penalty would be almost even more of a penalty here, with no chance to bounce back with good fortune flags. Corey Vincent (Team Dillon Esports) was fighting for a seventh place finish, but sped leaving the pits and wound up finishing 30th.

Up front, as deJong chased Wilson, Zalenski was falling into the clutches of Kirwan and Bowlin. Zalenski fell back to finish in fifth, his worst career road course finish since he started racing in the series in 2017. Zalenski’s now gone since the Charlotte Roval race in 2020 without a road course win, four events ago.

On the final lap, Kirwan posted the fastest lap of the race on a set of unchanged tires. Up front, however, Wilson didn’t need to run the fastest lap, he just needed to run fast and smooth enough for the victory.

NO NEW WINNER, TWO SEATS STILL REMAIN

Wilson, Ottinger and Conti all have two wins on the season, while five other drivers all have one. Three more races remain until the 2022 Playoffs are set, so there still exists a timeline where a winner might not make the race for the championship.

Leaving Road America, the winner in the worst position has to be Alfalla, now 18th in the Driver’s Standings and only 11 points ahead of the cut line. Whether the field gets more than 10 drivers or not, if Alfalla isn’t in the Top 20 following Darlington, he won’t have a claim to a playoff spot anyway.

Garrett Lowe (Wood Brothers Racing) has a little more breathing room. Lowe is 36 points above the cut and 25 points ahead of Alfalla. If an eleventh winner were to come with new winners at Pocono, Watkins Glen and Darlington, Lowe would just need to be ahead of one of those winners, as well as in the Top 20.

But what if there aren’t any new winners for the rest of the regular season? At least two spots would be available for those high up in the points without a win. Kirwan leads that group, currently third in the Driver’s Standings and 35 points ahead of the next driver with no win.

That driver is the 2019 Series Champion Zack Novak (Rise Esports), who had an off night on Tuesday, finishing 23rd following three straight second place finishes. Novak is three points ahead of the next non-winner, Blake Reynolds (Jim Beaver Esports) who had a remarkable run, finishing eighth.

Either way you slice it, with three, two, one, or no new winners in the next three races, there are compelling stories on how the Playoff Grid could possibly be set this season.

NEXT UP: THAT TRIANGLE PLACE

Pocono Raceway is the next battleground for the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series. Last season, Bobby Zalenski was able to pull off his first win of the 2021 season, which eventually led to another Championship 4 appearance later that season.

19th July will be the 10th time in 13 seasons where the Tricky Triangle will be featured on the virtual schedule. Alongside Zalenski, Alfalla, Leahy, Conti, Jimmy Mullis (Rise Esports), Allen Boes (SpaceStation Racing) and Cody Byus (Mode Motorsports) are all past winners. There has never been a two-time winner.

Tune in at 8:30 p.m. ET on 19th July to see the Pocono action unfold. The event 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 #11 – ROAD AMERICA – TOP 10 RESULTS

FINSTACAR #DRIVERTEAMINTERVALLEDPOINTS
1110Steven WilsonStewart-Haas Esports25 LAPS2540
2223Mitchell deJong23XI Racing+1.140 sec035
3695Casey KirwanXSET+5.568 sec034
4348Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix+5.589 sec033
5518Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing+7.982 sec032
6419Vicente SalasWilliams Esports+9.473 sec031
71431Garrett ManesElliott Sadler Esports+20.440 sec030
81015Blake ReynoldsJim Beaver Esports+21.701 sec029
9178Michael ContiJR Motorsports+22.171 sec028
10825Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports+26.962 sec027

PLAYOFF STANDINGS AFTER RACE #11 – ROAD AMERICA

POSCAR #DRIVERTEAMWINSPOINTST5’sT10’s
110Steven WilsonStewart-Haas Esports231257
225Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports227957
38Michael ContiJR Motorsports224645
475Matt BussaMode Motorsports129627
548Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix127155
679Femi OlatunbosunClint Bowyer Racing124534
721Garrett LoweWood Brothers Racing122114
851Ray AlfallaJoe Gibbs Racing119622
995Casey KirwanXSET0284 (+38)37
105Zack NovakRise Esports0249 (+3)45
11th – #15 Blake Reynolds (-3 points from Top 10)
12th – #3 Corey Vincent (-5 points from Top 10)

TEAM STANDINGS AFTER RACE #11 – ROAD AMERICA

POSCAR #’sTEAMPOINTS
110 | 41Stewart-Haas Esports487 (—)
29 | 15Jim Beaver Esports470 (-17)
34 | 95XSET462 (-25)
45 | 46Rise eSports456 (-31)
53 | 33Team Dillon Esports435 (-52)
624 | 75Mode Motorsports422 (-65)
718 | 51Joe Gibbs Racing421 (-66)
825 | 97William Byron Esports418 (-69)
943 | 48Charlotte Phoenix410 (-77)
108 | 88 JR Motorsports404 (-83)

RACE #11 – ROAD AMERICA – BOX SCORE:

  • Zero cautions for zero laps
  • Zero lead changes among one driver
  • Most laps led: No. 10 Steven Wilson (25)
  • Fastest lap: No. 95 Casey Kirwan (Lap 25, 2:06.794 secs)
  • Rookie of the race: No. 20 Donovan Strauss (12th place)

2022 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE

DateRace #TrackLaps
01-Feb-22~Clash~LA Coliseum25/50/120
15-Feb-221Daytona Int’l Speedway80
01-Mar-222Las Vegas Motor Speedway100
15-Mar-223Atlanta Motor Speedway100
29-Mar-224Richmond Raceway130
12-Apr-225Bristol Motor Speedway DIRT25/120
26-Apr-226Dover Motor Speedway120
10-May-227Kansas Speedway100
24-May-228Charlotte Motor Speedway100
31-May-229World Wide Technology Raceway120
21-Jun-2210Nashville Superspeedway100
05-Jul-2211Road America25
19-Jul-2212Pocono Raceway60
16-Aug-2213Watkins Glen Int’l35
30-Aug-2214Darlington Raceway120
13-Sep-22PO1 | 15Bristol Motor Speedway175
27-Sep-22PO2 | 16Talladega Superspeedway70
11-Oct-22PO3 | 17Homestead-Miami Speedway100
25-Oct-22C4F | 18Phoenix Raceway110
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