eNASCAR Coke: Casey Kirwan wins Throwback night at Darlington, wins in 100th start

Casey Kirwan scored his second win of the 2023 eNASCAR season, this time at Darlington Raceway on 16th May in his 100th career start.
Kirwan Coke Darlington

In his 100th career eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series start on Tuesday night (16th May) at Darlington Raceway, the defending series champion Casey Kirwan (XSET) managed to pull off the Wreckers to Checkers victory after early involvement in the first caution. Kirwan held off Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports) for the victory.

It’s Kirwan’s second victory of the season, and the fifth of his career. The 2022 Champ is now more secure than ever for a post-season berth in the 2023 eNASCAR Playoffs. With damage to his right front for 114 of the 120 laps on the night, victory did not come easy for the XSET driver.

In fact, when Casey wins, he always wins in dramatic fashion. His first win at Bristol came down to the final laps. Win no. 2 was in a photo finish in eNASCAR Overtime at Michigan. Who could forget his drag race with Zack Novak at Pocono last year, or his fourth career win last month at Talladega, snatching the win from Malik Ray?

Even in his championship battle, which wasn’t a victory, but a brawl for second with Bobby Zalenski at Phoenix last October, it came after entering that night as the underdog. NEVER count out Casey Kirwan. He’s quickly becoming eNASCAR’s version of “The Closer”, a nod to Kevin Harvick and his ability to win out of nowhere.

There were three cautions for 10 laps, 10 total lead changes among nine different drivers, and some insane strategies that paid off for some, and not so much for others. Only six races remain until the 2023 eNASCAR Playoffs.

KIRWAN: “WE WON AT DARLINGTON. IT’S CRAZY”

Tuesday’s race was a throwback race night, where 23 of 39 cars participated with liveries akin to motorsports’ past. Most schemes threw back to NASCAR, such as Kirwan’s 2011 Tony Stewart throwback. Others like the Kanaan Esports and Williams Esports duos, threw back to their respective series of IndyCar and F1.

READ: All of the 2023 eNASCAR Throwback paint schemes for Darlington

Graham A. Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix) was not in a throwback car, but he was the fastest in qualifying and started on the pole alongside another car not dressed for the occasion, that being Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Esports) in his first race on the Norse Force Racing backend team.

The first caution was for Kirwan, who got caught in the fracas after Dylan Duval (Stewart-Haas Esports) caught the wall a few cars ahead and Femi Olatunbosun (Charlotte Phoenix) looked to make it three-wide at the last moment. This put Kirwan in a compromising position that also collected Daniel Faulkingham (Joe Gibbs Racing).

DEADZONE BACK FROM THE DEAD?

Both Bowlin and Kirwan looked to have the best long run pace, but they were up against the likes of the Team Conti squadron of Nick Ottinger, Matt Bussa (William Byron Esports) and Michael Conti (JR Motorsports), who seemed to have more overall pace until the tires fell off, and fell off hard.

While both Wilson and Olatunbosun took their talents to Norse Force starting this week, and with Wilson showing early pace, it was the Deadzone duo that seemed to have the race on lock if it were to go green, something that really hadn’t been in the cards to this point on the season.

Other Deadzoners seemed to be stuck in the mid-pack, but it was encouraging to see the champion and one of the other Championship 4 competitors towards the front throughout the night.

COMERS AND GOERS

In reality, this “driver’s track” had a very old school feeling in the sense that we had drivers that would come and go. Matt Bussa was the early favorite, but after getting passed by his teammate Ottinger, he quickly fell down the order and out of the conversation for the win.

Ottinger was likely the most consistent running driver through the night, but he wasn’t in position to do anything with it at the end, especially given the extremely hard time he had to get that second spot late in the going.

An interesting call came from the No. 7 camp with Malik Ray (Jim Beaver Esports). Ray waited until lap 78 to pit. After getting his lap back, Ray parked it in front of the leader, who at the time had cycled to be Kirwan, and super saved his tires while essentially running 38th. With the caution only a dozen laps into his run, Ray stayed out.

Restarting second, Ray passed his Jim Beaver Esports teammate Garrett Lowe, also on old tires, for the lead. Another quick yellow saw him line up in the lead alongside the two tire strategy of Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) and in front of the four tire users in Bowlin and Kirwan.

Ray held on to finish fifth, behind Kirwan, Ottinger, Conti and Bowlin. Zalenski’s two tires put him back to finish eighth, right behind the early dominator that was Bussa.

RACE 8 AT DARLINGTON RACEWAY – TOP 10 RESULTS

FINSTACAR #DRIVERTEAMINTERVALLEDPTS
11495Casey KirwanXSET120 LAPS3240
2625Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports+0.325 secs1835
3108Michael ContiJR Motorsports+1.670 secs134
4148Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix+3.095 secs333
5287Malik RayJim Beaver Esports+4.415 secs1732
62612Garrett ManesFGR Accel eRacing+4.483 secs031
7497Matt BussaWilliam Byron Esports+5.058 secs3630
82118Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing+5.514 secs029
92933Tucker MinterTeam Dillon Esports+5.572 secs028
10113Jordy LopezTeam Dillon Esports+5.609 secs527

PLAYOFF SEEDING AFTER RACE 8 AT DARLINGTON

POS#DRIVERTEAMPTSBEHWINST5T10
18Michael ContiJR Motorsports244WIN244
295Casey KirwanXSET216WIN245
318Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing189WIN224
433Tucker Minter [R]Team Dillon Esports207WIN134
510Steven WilsonStewart-Haas Esports157WIN112
625Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports230+58045
748Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix211+39036
83Jordy Lopez Jr [R]Team Dillon Esports206+34023
97Malik RayJim Beaver Esports199+27045
938Michael Cosey Jr [R]Front Row Motorsports199+27024
1123Keegan Leahy23XI Racing172-27022
1212Garrett ManesFGR Accel eRacing166-33014

TEAM STANDINGS AFTER RACE 8 AT DARLINGTON

POSCAR #sTEAMPTSBEHWINST5T10
13 | 33Team Dillon Esports413157
225 | 97William Byron Esports384-29048
38 | 88JR Motorsports360-53244
434 | 38Front Row Motorsports350-63026
523 | 4523XI Racing315-98034
67 | 15Jim Beaver Esports314-99046
710 | 41Stewart-Haas Esports305-108115
811 | 66Tony Kanaan Esports291-122004
94 | 95XSET281-132245
1043 | 48Charlotte Phoenix252-161036
Joe Gibbs Racing: P13, 2 wins

BOX SCORE

  • Three cautions for 10 laps in 120 completed laps
  • 10 lead changes among nine drivers
  • Pole sitter: No. 48 Graham A. Bowlin (28.842 secs)
  • Most laps led: No. 97 Matt Bussa (36 laps led)
  • Lap Leaders:
    • #48 Graham A. Bowlin (Pole-3)
    • #97 Matt Bussa (4-39)
    • #25 Nick Ottinger (40-57)
    • #8 Michael Conti (58)
    • #3 Jordy Lopez (59-63)
    • #7 Malik Ray (64-72)
    • #4 Ryan Luza (73-77)
    • #95 Casey Kirwan (78-94)
    • #15 Garrett Lowe (95-97)
    • #7 Malik Ray (98-105)
    • #95 Casey Kirwan (106-120)
  • Fastest lap: No. 25 Nick Ottinger (Lap 110, 29.021 secs)
  • Hard charger: No. 46 Jimmy Mullis (Started 39th, Finished 15th | +24 spots)
  • Hard luck: No. 54 Daniel Faulkingham (Started 3rd, Finished 38th | -35 spots)
  • Fewest incidents: Nine drivers with 0x (Highest finisher with 0x: #8 Michael Conti)
  • Most incidents: No. 6 Timmy Holmes (14x)
  • Rookie of the race: No. 33 Tucker Minter (9th place)
  • Team of the race: No. 25 / No. 97 William Byron Esports (65 points, 2nd and 7th)
  • Winning Club: Carolina

UP NEXT: POST-MEMORIAL DAY ACTIVITIES AT CHARLOTTE

With six races remaining in the 2023 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Regular Season, the next chance to win and get into the playoffs will be post-Memorial Day, on 30th May, at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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.

The 100-lap event broadcast will be available at eNASCAR.com/live or on the iRacing social channels.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Matt Bussa saves enough gas to win Coca-Cola 150

2023 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE

RACEDATETRACKLAPS
CLASH31-JaneNASCAR Clash at the LA Coliseum | Winner: CASEY KIRWAN20/40/70
114-FebDaytona International Speedway | Winner: TUCKER MINTER80
228-FebThe Milwaukee Mile | Winner: MICHAEL CONTI100
314-MarAtlanta Motor Speedway | Winner: STEVEN WILSON100
428-MarRichmond Raceway | Winner: BOBBY ZALENSKI130
511-AprAutodromo Nazionale Monza | Winner: BOBBY ZALENSKI30
618-AprTalladega Superspeedway | Winner: CASEY KIRWAN70
72-MayLas Vegas Motor Speedway | Winner: MICHAEL CONTI100
816-MayDarlington Raceway | Winner: CASEY KIRWAN120
930-MayCharlotte Motor Speedway100
1013-JunWorld Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway120
1127-JunChicago Street CourseTBA
1211-JulNashville Superspeedway100
1325-JulNew Hampshire Motor Speedway101
141-AugPocono Raceway60
15 – PO115-AugMichigan International Speedway60
16 – PO229-AugDover Motor Speedway120
17 – PO312-SepPhoenix Raceway120
18 – C426-SepHomestead-Miami Speedway100

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite Throwback scheme from Tuesday night!

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