eNCCiS: Femi Olatunbosun opens 2022 season with three-wide photo finish win at Daytona
After 84 laps, including four extra for an overtime finish, Revere Massachusetts’ Femi Olatunbosun crossed the line first in a three-wide battle against Garrett Manes and Steven Wilson to score his first career eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series victory in his 19th attempt.
Olatunbosun, now driving for Clint Bowyer Racing, held the lead off of Turn 4. Manes, in the No. 31 for Elliott Sadler Esports, turned to his outside to side draft.
As that happened, Stewart-Haas eSports’ Wilson kept with Olatunbosun and then made the move to the apron. The trio came across the line with Manes 0.009 seconds behind and Wilson 0.011 seconds behind.
As long as he can stay in the Top 20 and there are no more than nine other winners, Olatunbosun should qualify for his first eNASCAR iRacing playoff field with the victory. Olatunbosun becomes the 59th different winner in series history.
“What a way to start off the year, right?” Olatunbosun said post-race on the broadcast. “I don’t even know what to say. There is just so much happening… I’m just so happy.”
The result is also Olatunbosun’s first career Top 5 finish and only his second career Top 10, the first coming last season in his rookie year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the next track on the 2022 schedule.
“THE ROAD TO $300,000 STARTS AGAIN”
Following an off-season like no other, the top eNASCAR drivers returned on Tuesday night ready to get to work on another 18-race schedule.
Returning champions, like the defending series champion Keegan Leahy, 2020 champ Nick Ottinger, and Mr. 4-Time himself, Ray Alfalla, all hoped to leave Daytona with the best result possible to put towards another title run.
Others that have been close to titles before, names like Bobby Zalenski, Logan Clampitt, Jimmy Mullis and Mitchell deJong, all had the same thought in their mind. In fact, most if not all of the drivers just wanted to make it out of virtual Daytona alive.
Ottinger took the pole position, and for the most part, he and another champion of the series, Michael Conti, controlled the first half of the race.
Unfortunately for Conti’s new teammate at JR Motorsports, Briar LaPradd, he wouldn’t make it too far into his debut.
On lap 6, LaPradd got into the back of both of the eRacr teammates and triggered a multi-car incident, ending the night for many and crippling the efforts of others. The wreck-filled theme would continue through the night.
Towards the mid-section of the race, Team Conti drivers continued to control the pack. At halfway, just past lap 40, pit stops began. On the exit, calamity struck.
The William Byron eSports teammates of Nick Ottinger and Logan Clampitt got hooked onto one another, and many hopefuls were taken out again. Clampitt was pretty much done, Ottinger was hurt bad, and the defending champion Leahy was missing virtual pieces.
The trend continued on. XSET’s Casey Kirwan wasn’t able to get in line and wound up getting himself turned off of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Bobby Zalenski. When the dust settled, there were new faces at the top of the charts, and most of them were from the Deadzone Racing alliance.
Kollin Keister, part of the new Charlotte Phoenix team, had control for a while. At one point or another, both Olatunbosun and Malik Ray wound up leading the multiple lines.
A wreck involving Derek Justis and Kaden Honeycutt bunched up the field again. On the next restart, Ottinger was involved in another, this time collecting Brian Mercurio.
With three laps to go, Ray held the lead and Olatunbosun was alongside.
On the second to last restart, the outside lane was able to form a lot better than the inside. As Ray fell into the clutches of the pack, Olatunbosun started to pull away. Just before they could get the white flag, however, disaster struck for Ray and others. The race would head into eNASCAR overtime.
Coming to the white flag, Graham Bowlin got turned by his own teammate Keister, but the wreck was off of the racing surface, so the race took the white flag to finish it out green. Just before Turn 1, Alfalla got hooked and the field began to thin out at the front.
It was a three car breakaway for the lead. Olatunbosun had it, Manes wanted it, and Wilson was waiting in the wings to pounce at an opportunity. Off of Turn 4, Manes went high. He made contact with Olatunbosun and the pair slowed down.
Wilson went low, but wound up running into the back of Olatunbosun’s No. 79, giving him the boost he needed. Wilson then took it to the apron where they finished three-wide. It was Olatunbosun by a nose on either side.
NEXT UP: LAS VEGAS
In two weeks, the series returns for its second race of the season at the virtual Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Entering the event, Olatunbosun is all but locked into the 2022 eNASCAR Playoffs. On top of the Team Standings, Stewart-Haas eSports will look to hold on to their lead after their drivers Wilson and Dylan Duval finished third and seventh respectively.
Last season at Las Vegas, Ryan Luza took it to victory lane for his fourth career victory at the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval. Jimmy Mullis and Corey Vincent also have wins at the track, but can anyone dethrone Luza as the king of the casino?
Tune in at 8:30 p.m. ET on 1st March to see it all unfold. The broadcast will be available at eNASCAR.com/live or on the iRacing Social Channels.
RACE #1 – DAYTONA TOP 10 RESULTS
|1||11||79||Femi Olatunbosun||Clint Bowyer Racing||84 LAPS||15||40|
|2||17||31||Garrett Manes||Elliott Sadler Esports||+0.009||0||35|
|3||20||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas eSports||+0.011||0||34|
|4||2||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||+0.115||18||33|
|5||25||46||Jimmy Mullis||Rise eSports||+0.207||0||32|
|6||13||15||Blake Reynolds||Jim Beaver eSports||+0.219||2||31|
|7||9||41||Dylan Duval||Stewart-Haas eSports||+0.253||0||30|
|8||12||43||Kollin Keister||Charlotte Phoenix||+0.692||18||29|
|9||3||45||Keegan Leahy||23XI Racing||+0.757||0||28|
|10||31||33||Taylor Hurst||Team Dillon eSports||+0.883||0||27|
POINTS AFTER RACE #1 – DAYTONA
|1||79||Femi Olatunbosun||Clint Bowyer Racing||1 WIN|
|2||31||Garrett Manes||Elliott Sadler Esports||35 pts|
|3||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas eSports||34 pts|
|4||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||33 pts|
|5||46||Jimmy Mullis||Rise eSports||32 pts|
|6||15||Blake Reynolds||Jim Beaver eSports||31 pts|
|7||41||Dylan Duval||Stewart-Haas eSports||30 pts|
|8||43||Kollin Keister||Charlotte Phoenix||29 pts|
|9||45||Keegan Leahy||23XI Racing||28 pts|
|10||33||Taylor Hurst||Team Dillon eSports||27 pts|
TEAM STANDINGS AFTER RACE #1 – DAYTONA
|1||10 | 41||Stewart-Haas eSports||64 points|
|2||14 | 79||Clint Bowyer Racing||61 points|
|3||2 | 31||Elliott Sadler Esports||57 points|
|4||23 | 45||23XI Racing||53 points|
|5||4 | 95||XSET||42 points|
|6||43 | 48||Charlotte Phoenix||41 points|
|7||18 | 51||Joe Gibbs Racing||40 points|
|8||9 | 15||Jim Beaver eSports||38 points|
|9||8 | 88||JR Motorsports||34 points|
|10||5 | 46||Rise eSports||33 points|
DAYTONA BOX SCORE:
- Six cautions for 18 laps
- 27 lead changes among seven drivers
- Most laps led: No. 25 Nick Ottinger (23)
- Fastest lap: No. 21 Garrett Lowe (Lap 59, 45.831 secs)
- Rookie of the race: No. 6 Parker Retzlaff (13th place)
2022 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE
|01-Mar-22||2||Las Vegas Motor Speedway||100|
|15-Mar-22||3||Atlanta Motor Speedway||100|
|12-Apr-22||5||Bristol Motor Speedway DIRT||25/120|
|26-Apr-22||6||Dover Motor Speedway||120|
|24-May-22||8||Charlotte Motor Speedway||100|
|31-May-22||9||World Wide Technology Raceway||120|
|16-Aug-22||13||Watkins Glen Int’l||35|
|13-Sep-22||PO1 | 15||Bristol Motor Speedway||175|
|27-Sep-22||PO2 | 16||Talladega Superspeedway||70|
|11-Oct-22||PO3 | 17||Homestead-Miami Speedway||100|
|25-Oct-22||C4F | 18||Phoenix Raceway||110|