Chances to punch a ticket to the 2023 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Playoffs are running out. Following the conclusion of Tuesday night’s event at Nashville Superspeedway, the 12th race of the 2023 season, a ticket isn’t necessarily punched just yet for Jimmy Mullis (Rise Esports), but it could be considered to be on Will Call.
After a slew of cautions that started with just over 10 laps remaining, Mullis, who stayed out on old tires, had to worry about the drivers who opted to pit late and take at least two tires. One of those drivers was Garrett Lowe (Jim Beaver Esports).
On the final restart, Lowe restarted sixth after initially restarting back in 16th following his late pit. By the white flag, Lowe had managed to get to the back bumper of Mullis. Into Turn 3 on the final lap, Lowe went high and made it stick. Mullis drove it back in deep and made contact in and out of Turn 4.
The contact sent Lowe flying into the wall as he fell back to finish in third. Mullis scored his sixth career eNASCAR victory, his first since 2021, but the win does not lock him just yet into the playoffs. The Rise Esports driver is still below the Top 20 cut, in 21st, only five points away from a Playoff berth.
Mullis: “There’s going to be a lot of opinions about that”
Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports) started the day on the pole position, and had the race gone with a less caution-filled approach, he looked like he would be hard to beat. These races are never so straightforward, and as a result, the order was shaken multiple times due to multiple cautions.
There were nine in total, two of which brough the field into eNASCAR Overtime late. As it was, two-tire calls seemed to be the meta, as drivers found they did not need their left side tires at all on Tuesday night. Ottinger opted to stay out early to test the waters. It would backfire ultimately.
A long run would ensue from just after halfway to just before 15 laps to go. Allen Boes (Front Row Motorsports) was on a wacky strategy that allowed him to lead for a good chunk before his tires gave out, eventually giving way to Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Racing).
Wilson would eventually leave the door open for Mullis and his own teammate Dylan Duval (Stewart-Haas Racing) to pull through. A late caution would change things as the field would split on strategy once more.
It seemed like enough drivers stayed out to make the stay out strategy worth it for Mullis. Ottinger and Duval battled heavily for second until the final restart, and that’s when the fresher tires showed up to the party.
While still hanging on for third after the contact, Lowe and his teammate Malik Ray (Jim Beaver Esports) managed to take home a pair of Top 5 finishes. Ray led some of the race earlier. Also leading laps was Vicente Salas (Williams Esports) who wound up finishing fifth.
Race 12 at Nashville Superspeedway – Top 10 Results
|1||6||46||Jimmy Mullis||Rise Esports||104 LAPS||26||40|
|2||24||41||Dylan Duval||Stewart-Haas Racing||+0.125 secs||0||35|
|3||14||15||Garrett Lowe||Jim Beaver Esports||+0.158 secs||0||34|
|4||3||7||Malik Ray||Jim Beaver Esports||+0.319 secs||9||33|
|5||9||55||Vicente Salas||Williams Esports||+0.382 secs||15||32|
|6||1||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron Esports||+0.507 secs||22||31|
|7||34||12||Garrett Manes||fgrAccel eRacing||+0.541 secs||0||30|
|8||4||97||Matt Bussa||William Byron Esports||+0.657 secs||0||29|
|9||35||45||Michael Guest||23XI Racing||+0.684 secs||0||28|
|10||5||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||+0.705 secs||0||27|
Another wrinkle in the playoff picture
If Mullis is able to get enough points to finish in the Top 20 by the end of the Regular Season, he will have a ticket to the playoffs. It’s no guarantee, surely, but Mullis has taken the last three-straight wins at the next venue, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and has a win a few years ago at the Regular Season finale at Pocono Raceway.
Should Mullis get in, that takes one spot away from those trying to point in. Leaving Nashville, Michael Cosey Jr (Front Row Motorsports) has it. Assuming Mullis gets in, that moves to a tie between Malik Ray and Graham Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix) just five points ahead of Cosey.
Nick Ottinger is sitting pretty on points as it is. If there’s no new winner, or even if there is, if Ottinger can leave New Hampshire 41 points ahead of Bowlin, Ray, Cosey and anyone else, he’ll be guaranteed a spot in the 2023 playoffs no matter what happens at Pocono.
There’s also Matt Bussa (William Byron Esports), Garrett Manes (fgrAccel eRacing) and Parker White (Kanaan Esports) still in striking distance on points as well. These final two Regular Season races could go a number of ways.
Playoff Seeding after Race 12 at Nashville Superspeedway
|1||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||265||WIN||3||3||6|
|2||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||342||WIN||2||6||7|
|3||33||Tucker Minter [R]||Team Dillon Esports||293||WIN||2||5||6|
|5||3||Jordy Lopez Jr [R]||Team Dillon Esports||305||WIN||1||3||6|
|6||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas Racing||259||WIN||1||2||4|
|7||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron Esports||319||+50||0||4||7|
|8||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||283||+14||0||4||8|
|8||7||Malik Ray||Jim Beaver Esports||283||+14||0||5||7|
|10||38||Michael Cosey Jr [R]||Front Row Motorsports||278||+9||0||2||6|
|11||97||Matt Bussa||William Byron Esports||269||-9||0||1||6|
|12||12||Garrett Manes||fgrAccel eRacing||261||-17||0||2||6|
|13||11||Parker White [R]||Kanaan Esports||256||-22||0||2||4|
Team Title tightens after Team Dillon’s Nashville woes
It was a night to forget for the Team Title leaders entering at Team Dillon Esports. Jordy Lopez and Tucker Minter both had off-nights, with Lopez getting early damage and losing laps while Minter wrecked late in the going. The duo only scored 10 points combined.
William Byron Esports is now only 10 points out of the lead following a double Top 10 effort from both Ottinger and Bussa. While JR Motorsports didn’t have the best night either with Michael Conti wrecking out and Kevin King with a mid-pack finish, the likes of Jim Beaver Esports and Stewart-Haas Racing are also finding their way back into the conversation.
Team Standings after Race 12 at Nashville Superspeedway
|1||3 | 33||Team Dillon Esports||598||—||3||8||12|
|2||25 | 97||William Byron Esports||588||-10||0||5||13|
|3||8 | 88||JR Motorsports||525||-73||2||6||7|
|4||7 | 15||Jim Beaver Esports||521||-77||0||7||12|
|5||10 | 41||Stewart-Haas Racing||500||-98||1||3||8|
|6||34 | 38||Front Row Motorsports||485||-113||0||2||8|
|7||11 | 66||Tony Kanaan Esports||446||-154||0||2||6|
|8||23 | 45||23XI Racing||424||-174||0||3||5|
|9||43 | 48||Charlotte Phoenix||371||-231||0||4||9|
|10||18 | 54||Joe Gibbs Racing||368||-234||3||3||6|
Nashville Superspeedway – Box Score
- Nine cautions for 33 laps in 104 completed laps (+4 in eNASCAR Overtime)
- Six lead changes among six drivers
- Pole sitter: No. 25 Nick Ottinger (29.406 secs)
- Most laps led: No. 46 Jimmy Mullis (26 laps led)
- Lap Leaders:
- #25 Nick Ottinger (pole-9)
- #7 Malik Ray (10-18)
- #25 Nick Ottinger (19-31)
- #55 Vicente Salas (32-46)
- #34 Allen Boes (47-70)
- #10 Steven Wilson (71-78)
- #46 Jimmy Mullis (79-104)
- Fastest lap: No. 41 Dylan Duval (Lap 66, 29.474 secs)
- Hard charger: No. 12 Garrett Manes (Started 34th, Finished 7th | +27 spots)
- Hard luck: No. 4 Ryan Luza (Started 15th, Finished 39th | -24 spots)
- Fewest incidents: Four drivers at 0x (Highest finisher, No. 46 Jimmy Mullis, 1st)
- Most incidents: No. 27 Cody Byus (18x)
- Rookie of the race: No. 54 Daniel Faulkingham (16th Place)
- Team of the race: No. 7 / No. 15 Jim Beaver Esports (67 points, 3rd and 4th)
- Winning Club: Carolina
Up Next: Another Jimmy Jam at New Hampshire?
Jimmy Mullis will be looking for his fourth-straight win at the Magic Mile in New Hampshire in two weeks time. He doesn’t need the win, but it sure will help him with trying to secure a spot by gaining enough points before Pocono ends.
He’ll have to contend with Lowe who may not want to give him any slack following their run in on Tuesday night, as well as any other competitors that felt that what Mullis did to win was wrong. A can of worms now sits opened.
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
|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|