For James Davison, Wednesday night couldn’t have gone more perfectly, except for the time when Clint Bowyer tried to pit extremely late in front of him, but even after the contact between the two, Davison was able to control his destiny and score the victory.
Leading 30 of the 32 laps around the virtual Circuit of the Americas on the iRacing service, Davison held off Anthony Alfredo to score the convincing victory by over 18 seconds. William Byron rounded out the podium while Tyler Reddick and Chris Buescher rounded out the Top 5.
Despite the convincing victory, Davison said the win didn’t come easy in the slightest.
“It took a lot of concentration just to keep the car straight,” Davison said. “You couldn’t get full throttle in first gear at all. You really had to look after the rear tires, which is something we get practice with in the real thing, and I would say it was even less gripped. You had to really focus on not over driving it.”
Davison led at Bristol on the dirt, held the lead often at Talladega, and ran decent in the NEXT Gen at Darlington. When it comes to COTA, Davison knew this was his best shot all season to get the job done.
“This is my wheelhouse,” Davison said. “I sat on the pole here in IMSA in GT a handful of years ago. I kind of expected to be competitive. I didn’t know where I’d end up, I just gave it my best shot. Thankfully it was enough.”
CAUTION FREE, NOT INCIDENT FREE
Like last night’s eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series race at the same venue, cautions were disabled for the night with only local yellows being observed. Plenty of carnage still occurred around the 3.427-mile / 5.515-kilometer facility, mainly towards the beginning of the night, but with some incidents coming later.
Chase Elliott is well known for his road course abilities, but virtually, maybe not so much. On the first lap, Elliott jumped the curb, caught some air, and landed into the side of Corey Lajoie, collecting others in the process. The result was a last place finish for the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion.
Brad Keselowski joked before the race that he might forget where his brakes were, and when he found trouble on the second lap, he pulled his virtual Mustang behind the virtual wall and pulled the plug on his race, finishing 38th.
Aric Almirola’s struggles continued into the virtual world as he caught his car getting loose in the same spot that Keselowski did a few laps earlier. Almirola didn’t hit the wall quite as hard as Keselowski, but with this still being on the computer with computer physics, his car happened to glitch into the ARMCO barrier and got caught, effectively ending his night.
The only other retiree on the evening was Ricky Stenhouse Jr, and well, he just spun it around and quit. A lot of drivers found incident points one way or another, whether it was contact with other drivers, off track incident points, or loss of control penalties. Quin Houff had the least amount of incidents of those who finished on the lead lap, still finding a way to rack up 32 of them by the checkered flag.
AN ABSOLUTE SMACKDOWN BY DAVISON
39 drivers took the green flag of the expected 40. Dale Earnhardt Jr missed the start due to “life stuff.” Davison took the pole position by over four tenths of a second over Alfredo, and from the drop of the green, he was going to be tough to beat without some sort of external force.
The external force was almost Clint Bowyer just before halfway. As Bowyer attempted to make his pit stop, he missed the entrance badly and attempted to fix it in the middle of the groove. Davison had already made his stop and was hoping to use the freshness of his virtual tires to extend his lead post-cycle, but the two collided in the final corner and nearly ruined Davison’s night.
A small virtual crinkle to the right front was no issue for the Rick Ware Racing driver as he collected himself and kept going without too much lost time. Alfredo was able to get the lead back down around 10 seconds, but eventually he fell off again and Davison was able to pull away.
Davison led all but two laps, those being led by Alfredo during pit stops. 35 drivers finished the race with only 23 cars finishing on the lead lap.
FOX SPORTS FINALE AT FANTASY CHICAGO STREET COURSE 2ND JUNE
The NBC Sports half of the Pro Invitational Series schedule has yet to release, but it would be expected before the FOX Sports finale coming up in two weeks. NASCAR and iRacing have teamed up for a what-if race featuring the NASCAR NEXT Gen cars on a fantasy Chicago Street Course.
As it stands, Davison continues to lead the unofficial points, if they were being kept, by 12 points over the sixth-place finisher at COTA, Timmy Hill. With multiple factors heading into the FOX Sports finale, there are many unknowns about how the race will play out in Chicago.
VIRTUAL DARLINGTON – TOP 10 FINISHERS
- 15 James Davison Rick Ware Racing 32 LAPS
- 38 Anthony Alfredo Front Row Motorsports +18.191
- 24 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports +37.180
- 8 Tyler Reddick Richard Childress Racing +38.617
- 17 Chris Buescher Roush Fenway Racing +40.075
- 66 Timmy Hill MBM Motorsports +49.111
- 11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing +54.138
- 52 Josh Bilicki Rick Ware Racing +56.012
- 42 Ross Chastain Chip Ganassi Racing +59.421
- 34 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports +1:00.804
UNOFFICIAL PRO INVITATIONAL SERIES POINTS STANDINGS
- 15 James Davison Rick Ware Racing 131 POINTS
- 66 Timmy Hill MBM Motorsports 119
- 8 Tyler Reddick Richard Childress Racing 109
- 20 Christopher Bell Joe Gibbs Racing 107
- 51 Garrett Smithley Rick Ware Racing 100
- 18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing 98
- 38 Anthony Alfredo Front Row Motorsports 95
- 24 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports 91
- 5 Kyle Larson Hendrick Motorsports 87
- 48 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports 86
- Lead Changes: Two among two drivers
- Lap Leader(s): James Davison 1-15, Anthony Alfredo 16-17, James Davison 18-32
- Laps Led: James Davison 30, Anthony Alfredo 2
- Hard Charger: 42-Ross Chastain (+21)
- Caution Flags: None
- Margin of Victory: 18.191 seconds
- Time of Race: One hour, 13 minutes, 1.539 seconds
- Average Speed: 90.077 mph
- Pole Winner: 15-James Davison, 2:12.113 (93.356 mph)
- Fastest Lap: 38-Anthony Alfredo, Lap 3, 2:13:861 (92.137 mph)