eNASCAR Coke: Tucker Minter takes first career win in first career race at Daytona

Justin Melillo
Tucker Minter moved Casey Kirwan out of his way on the final lap at Daytona to win the opening round of the 2023 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season.
eNASCAR Coke: Tucker Minter takes first career win in first career race

Another season in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series history books has officially begun. The 14th season of competition once again kicked things off at the hallowed ground of Daytona International Speedway. When the checkered flag flew, a new face found himself celebrating in virtual victory lane.

Before tonight, only two drivers had ever won in their series debut. The most recent to do it was Darik Bourdeau (Elliott Sadler Esports) back in 2016. The first to do it was in the first race in Series history back in 2010, and that was Dale Earnhardt Jr. Now we can add Team Dillon Esports‘ Tucker Minter to that list.

After contending throughout the night, Minter put himself in the perfect position to begin the final lap. He was in second, right behind the defending champion Casey Kirwan (XSET). Off of Turn 4, Minter went low. Kirwan tried to block but the two made contact, sending Minter ahead towards his first ever victory.

eNASCAR Coke: Tucker Minter takes first career win in first career race

Malik Ray (Jim Beaver Esports) and Bourdeau finished out the podium spots. Kirwan slipped back to finish fourth while another rookie contender in Michael Cosey Jr (Front Row Motorsports) rounded out the Top 5 on Tuesday (14th February).

37 of the 40 starters completed every lap, including the seven extra laps due to two rounds of eNASCAR Overtime. The race saw four cautions all together, two of which happened in the last handful of laps, for a total of 12 laps of pacing. Allen Boes (Front Row Motorsports) led the most laps at 26.

MINTER: “DREAMING ABOUT, THINKING ABOUT THIS RACE ALL OFFSEASON”

eNASCAR Coke: Tucker Minter takes first career win in first career race

The first rookie to win since Mitchell deJong did it back in 2021 at Circuit of the Americas, Minter has already exceeded his own expectations with Tuesday night’s victory.

“I tried to keep my expectations real low coming into the year,” Minter told Blake McCandless on the post-race show. “Rookies don’t generally win Coke Series races, it usually takes a year or two to get there… Now to have myself in a prime position to lock into the playoffs already, it’s huge.”

Minter is, in fact, now all but locked into the 2023 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoffs after just one race. He’ll need to maintain his position in the Top 20 and hope ten other winners don’t beat him in the final regular season points.

FIREWORKS EARLY, OFTEN AND THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT

eNASCAR Coke: Tucker Minter takes first career win in first career race
Dylan Duval and Bobby Zalenski led the field to the green flag.

The race began in peculiar fashion as Dylan Duval (Stewart-Haas Esports) led the field to the green flag as almost immediately, the caution flag flew. What looked to be a checkup on the bottom lane caused Dylan Ault (Letarte Esports) and Donovan Strauss (Williams Esports) to make contact and spin before Turn 1.

Garrett Manes (FGR Accel eRacing) was the most unlucky as a result, collecting the most significant damage as he limped around the entire rest of the race just to finish 39th, three laps down.

eNASCAR Coke: Tucker Minter takes first career win in first career race
The first caution on the first lap before the first corner. Whoof.

When the race resumed, things did start to fizzle. Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) had stolen the lead in that moment originally in the first caution from Duval and led, but not too long afterward, Kollin Keister (eRacr) had taken the top lane to the promised land.

Zalenski wouldn’t go away quietly, however. A few laps after, he and Cosey Jr tandemed back to the top spot and brought with them a host of other Altus backend team cars such as Minter and his Team Dillon teammate Jordy Lopez Jr. Cosey Jr and Minter later tandemed around Zalenski to give Cosey Jr the lead.

FOUR CAR BREAKAWAY

Just before pit stops, Cosey Jr, Minter, Zalenski and Lopez Jr all managed to break away from the field. A weird almost incident split the pack up and the Top 4 managed to pull multiple seconds of the rest of the field.

They would retain the lead after pit stops as well, but it would be Minter in the lead instead of Cosey Jr. The pack from fifth on back was led by Boes as they worked to catch the lead draft.

Boes would eventually catch up with his help behind him, taking control before too long. However, a wreck that didn’t result in a caution, followed by a wreck that did a few laps later, changed the complexion of the event.

eNASCAR Coke: Tucker Minter takes first career win in first career race
Following the pit cycle, the four car breakaway had kept that advantage.

TO BE (A CAUTION) OR NOT TO BE (A CAUTION)

In the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, caution flags are thrown by the in-game caution system as opposed to utilizing the in-race control humans. The simulation tries its best, but sometimes, things get missed and things that should be cautions just don’t happen the way they should.

Take the incident at Lap 57 which involved about a fifth of the field. They weren’t running in the main pack, but surely the platform would pick up on multiple cars strewn across the racing surface, right?

Wrong. No caution flew on that instance.

However, a full lap later, a caution flag did fly for a two-car incident involving Cody Byus (Elliott Sadler Esports) and Graham A. Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix).

eNASCAR Coke: Tucker Minter takes first career win in first career race
Tucker Minter needs a sponsor on that car, by the way.

This brought the field back together after having been separated following the pit cycle. This brought names many hopefuls back into the equation for the victory.

eNASCAR OVERTIME(s)

eNASCAR Coke: Tucker Minter takes first career win in first career race
Allen Boes was sitting pretty good with three scheduled laps to go…

As things began to wind down to the wire, moment after moment separated the field from one another, allowing the Top 9 cars to pull away and 10th on back screaming out at one another to figure it out and catch up.

Boes was leading with Kirwan in tow, followed by Minter, Cosey Jr and Tyler Garey (Kanaan Esports). With three laps to go, it was looking like they’d have a chance at making it, but alas, the caution flag flew and they were all forced into eNASCAR Overtime.

On the first overtime restart, Boes lost out on the lead to Kirwan who brough the likes of Cosey Jr and Derek Justis (Kansas City Pioneers) through up into the Top 3. Another crash saw another overtime attempt, and it would thankfully be the final one of the night.

Things got physical for the lead as Kirwan wrestled his way to hold the top spot. Minter was right behind as they ultimately separated into a three-car pack with Malik Ray (Jim Beaver Esports) in tow.

Off of the final corner of the final lap, Minter went low. Kirwan went lower. The two made contact, and Kirwan was heading towards the outside wall. Minter held on and held off Ray to win his first race in his first ever start in the series.

2023 eNASCAR COCA-COLA iRACING SERIES – RACE 1 AT DAYTONA – TOP 10 RESULTS

FINSTACAR #DRIVERTEAMINTLEDPTS
1833Tucker MinterTeam Dillon Esports87 LAPS1440
2387Malik RayJim Beaver Esports0.085 secs035
3201Darik BourdeauElliott Sadler Esports0.212 secs134
41195Casey KirwanXSET0.220 secs533
5638Michael Cosey JrFront Row Motorsports0.418 secs1132
61025Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports0.514 secs031
73166Tyler GareyKanaan Esports0.616 secs130
81248Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix0.824 secs029
91934Allen BoesFront Row Motorsports0.864 secs2628
10282Corey VincentPittsburgh Knights0.936 secs027

2023 eNASCAR COCA-COLA iRACING SERIES POINTS STANDINGS AFTER RACE 1 AT DAYTONA

POS#DRIVERTEAMPTSBEHWINST5T10
133Tucker MinterTeam Dillon Esports40111
27Malik RayJim Beaver Esports35-5011
31Darik BourdeauElliott Sadler Esports34-6011
495Casey KirwanXSET33-7011
538Michael Cosey JrFront Row Motorsports32-8011
625Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports31-9001
766Tyler GareyKanaan Esports30-10001
848Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix29-11001
934Allen BoesFront Row Motorsports28-12001
102Corey VincentPittsburgh Knights27-13001
eNASCAR Coke: Tucker Minter takes first career win in first career race

2023 eNASCAR COCA-COLA iRACING SERIES TEAM STANDINGS AFTER RACE 1 AT DAYTONA

POSCAR #sTEAMPTSBEHWINST5T10
134 | 38Front Row Motorsports60012
23 | 33Team Dillon Esports57-3111
343 | 48Charlotte Phoenix52-8001
423 | 4523XI Racing47-13000
525 | 97William Byron Esports46-14001
62 | 77Pittsburgh Knights46-14001
711 | 66Kanaan Esports46-14001
84 | 95XSET43-17011
91 | 27Elliott Sadler Esports41-19011
1046 | 75Rise Esports37-23000

BOX SCORE

  • Four cautions for 12 laps in 87 completed laps (80 + 7 laps overtime)
  • 11 lead changes among nine drivers
  • Most laps led: No. 34 Allen Boes (26)
  • Fastest lap: No. 48 Graham A. Bowlin (Lap 65, 43.986 secs)
  • Hard charger: No. 7 Malik Ray (Started 38th, Finished 2nd | +36 spots)
  • Hard luck: No. 69 Collin Bowden (Started 4th, Finished 35th | -31 spots)
  • Fewest incidents: No. 33 Tucker Minter (0x)
  • Most incidents: No. 40 Dylan Ault (25x)
  • Rookie of the race: No. 33 Tucker Minter (1st place)
  • Team of the race: No. 34 / No. 38 Front Row Motorsports (60 points)
  • Winning Club: Virginias

UP NEXT: A MILE AT MILWAUKEE

In two weeks, the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series will return for its second race of the 2023 season, the first ever trip by the eNASCAR faithful to the Milwaukee Mile. While it is one of iRacing’s older venues, it may be a whole new challenge for some of these younger Coke Series drivers regardless.

Things kick off with the eNASCAR Countdown to Green, which begins at 8:30 p.m. EDT / 1:30 a.m. GMT on Tuesday, 28th February. The race itself starts at 9:00 p.m. EDT / 2:00 a.m. GMT. Evan Posocco, Blake McCandless, Alan Cavanna, Camille Salazar Hadaway and James Pike are expected to be on the call.

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

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 Mile100
314-MarAtlanta Motor Speedway100
428-MarRichmond Raceway130
511-AprAutodromo Nazionale Monza30
618-AprTalladega Superspeedway70
72-MayLas Vegas Motor Speedway100
816-MayDarlington Raceway120
930-MayCharlotte Motor Speedway100
1013-JunWorld Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway120
1127-JunWatkins Glen International45
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
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