Whether you call him eNASCAR’s version of “The Closer” or the virtual “Mr. Excitement”, Casey Kirwan (XSET) once again had eNASCAR Nation buzzing after pulling off yet another incredible victory in the final moments of the race on Tuesday night (18th April) at Talladega Superspeedway.
It was the final time in 2023 that the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series would go Superspeedway racing. Just like the previous two this season alone, as well as last season’s epic finish at Talladega as well, it all came down to the final moments as the field hurdled to the finish line.
Malik Ray (Jim Beaver Esports) looked to finally have a win in hand, seemingly about to score his first career victory as Graham Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix) and Darik Bourdeau (Elliott Sadler Esports) wrecked behind him for second and third.
Kirwan had the best chance in fourth, but with no push behind, he didn’t have the momentum. Collin Bowden (eRacr) had Wyatt Tinsley (Kansas City Pioneers) glued to his bumper, thus he had the momentum, but it was likely not enough time to get to the win. Kirwan saw the opportunity in play and seized the moment.
After an incredible move to line up the tandem bump from behind, Kirwan rocketed by Ray to score his first win on the 2023 season, the fourth win of his career in 98 starts. Malik would once again have to settle for second place, dejected at another one that slipped away. Bowden hung on as the meat in the bump draft sandwich to finish third.
KIRWAN: “THE SHOT OF A LIFETIME”
Back in Daytona, Kirwan’s block on Tucker Minter (Team Dillon Esports) was just barely mistimed, sending the 2022 champion into the virtual wall as Minter went on to score the victory. On Tuesday night, using lessons learned, Kirwan pulled one of the most incredible and unlikely moves to steal the win from his former Deadzone teammate.
“I don’t think I was going to beat him to the line,” Kirwan said post-race. “I checked up in the mirror real quick and saw Bowden coming, and I just turned hard right and prayed I’d keep going straight. It was the shot of a lifetime.”
Kirwan’s three other victories hail from Bristol Motor Speedway, Michigan International Speedway and Pocono Raceway. Despite being the defending champion of the series and a perennial front runner at the superspeedway-style tracks, Talladega was his first win at such a track in the series.
Leading the most laps at only 11, Kirwan led the most important one, all but locking his place into the 2023 Playoffs, the first step in his quest to defend his 2022 series title.
RAY ON THE FIXED SETS: “EVERYONE WAS TAKING EVERY RUN THEY HAD”
For the first time in series history, the setup was fixed where all 39 drivers in the field were all on the same settings. In short, it meant that the backend teams didn’t have to spend countless hours through the week working on finding every thousandth of a second of speed.
With all drivers on the same setup, it really was anyone’s guess as to who would win, but yet the same suspects found their way to the front. Kirwan, Bowden and Ray are the “Big Three”, if you will, on these style of races.
So, did it make a difference with the product that viewers got to see at home or the competitors got to race in? If you ask these three, they really didn’t see a big difference. “I don’t think it changed how we raced,” said Ray. “I don’t think anyone would complain if Talladega or Daytona were fixed set, it really doesn’t make a huge difference,” added Kirwan.
RACE 6 AT TALLADEGA – TOP 10 RESULTS
|1||25||95||Casey Kirwan||XSET||71 LAPS||11||40|
|2||23||7||Malik Ray||Jim Beaver Esports||+0.034 secs||9||35|
|3||35||69||Collin Bowden||eRacr||+0.076 secs||6||34|
|4||26||20||Wyatt Tinsley||Kansas City Pioneers||+0.104 secs||0||33|
|5||1||42||Kollin Keister||eRacr||+0.177 secs||0||32|
|6||3||2||Corey Vincent||Pittsburgh Knights||+0.179 secs||1||31|
|7||14||45||Michael Guest||23XI Racing||+0.232 secs||0||30|
|8||30||41||Dylan Duval||Stewart-Haas Esports||+0.255 secs||2||29|
|9||22||17||Kaden Honeycutt||RFK Racing||+0.380 secs||0||28|
|10||17||97||Matt Bussa||William Byron Esports||+0.405 secs||0||27|
PLAYOFF SEEDING AFTER RACE 6 AT TALLADEGA
|1||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||159||WIN||2||2||3|
|2||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||170||WIN||1||2||2|
|4||33||Tucker Minter [R]||Team Dillon Esports||147||WIN||1||2||2|
|5||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas Esports||107||WIN||1||1||2|
|6||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron Esports||160||+25||0||2||3|
|7||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||151||+16||0||2||4|
|8||38||Michael Cosey Jr [R]||Front Row Motorsports||148||+13||0||2||3|
|9||3||Jordy Lopez Jr [R]||Team Dillon Esports||145||+10||0||1||1|
|10||7||Malik Ray||Jim Beaver Esports||138||+3||0||3||3|
|11||23||Keegan Leahy||23XI Racing||135||-3||0||2||2|
|12||41||Dylan Duval||Stewart-Haas Esports||133||-5||0||0||3|
TEAM STANDINGS AFTER RACE 6 AT TALLADEGA
|1||3 | 33||Team Dillon Esports||292||—||1||3||3|
|2||25 | 97||William Byron Esports||279||-13||0||2||5|
|3||34 | 38||Front Row Motorsports||259||-33||0||2||5|
|4||8 | 88||JR Motorsports||256||-36||1||2||2|
|5||23 | 45||23XI Racing||248||-44||0||3||4|
|6||10 | 41||Stewart-Haas Esports||240||-52||1||1||5|
|7||11 | 66||Kanaan Esports||234||-58||0||0||4|
|8||7 | 15||Jim Beaver Esports||220||-72||0||3||4|
|9||4 | 95||XSET||213||-79||1||3||4|
|10||2 | 77||Pittsburgh Knights||208||-84||0||0||3|
- Six cautions for 18 laps in 71 completed laps (+1 lap eNASCAR Overtime)
- 36 lead changes among 15 drivers
- Pole sitter: No. 42 Kollin Keister (53.172 secs)
- Most laps led: No. 95 Casey Kirwan (11 laps led)
- Fastest lap: No. 14 Joey Brown (Lap 2, 47.385 secs)
- Hard charger: No. 69 Collin Bowden (Started 35th, Finished 3rd | +32 spots)
- Hard luck: No. 75 Zack Novak (Started 2nd, Finished 37th | -35 spots)
- Fewest incidents: No. 45 Michael Guest (0x)
- Most incidents: No. 46 Jimmy Mullis and No. 75 Zack Novak (28x)
- Rookie of the race: No. 20 Wyatt Tinsley (4th place)
- Team of the race: No. 42 / No. 69 eRacr (66 points)
- Winning Club: Carolina
UP NEXT: DRIVERS SET TO HIT IT OR HOLD IT AT LAS VEGAS
The eNASCAR ranks will return to their regular two-week break following Talladega as the series is set to return on 2nd May with the seventh race of the season at Las Vegas. Vegas, followed by Darlington, Charlotte and Gateway, will be the first regular intermediate stretch of the season. Do also take note that the 11th race of the season, originally scheduled for Watkins Glen, has been replaced with the Chicago Street Course.
Back to Vegas in two weeks, things will kick off with the eNASCAR Countdown to Green, now presented by Wendy’s, which begins at 8:30 p.m. EDT / 1:30 a.m. BST. The race itself starts at 9:00 p.m. EDT / 2:00 a.m. BST. Evan Posocco, Blake McCandless, Alan Cavanna, Camille Salazar Hadaway and James Pike are expected to be on the call.
2023 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE
|7||2-May||Las Vegas Motor Speedway||100|
|9||30-May||Charlotte Motor Speedway||100|
|10||13-Jun||World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway||120|
|11||27-Jun||Chicago Street Course||TBA|
|13||25-Jul||New Hampshire Motor Speedway||101|
|15 – PO1||15-Aug||Michigan International Speedway||60|
|16 – PO2||29-Aug||Dover Motor Speedway||120|
|17 – PO3||12-Sep||Phoenix Raceway||120|
|18 – C4||26-Sep||Homestead-Miami Speedway||100|