After failing to finish in the first two races, to say that the start of the 2023 season was a struggle with Steven Wilson would likely be an understatement. However, the driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford for Stewart-Haas eSports put that—and the rest of the field—in his rearview mirror to win the Atlanta 150 at the reconfigured virtual Atlanta Motor Speedway to secure his fifth career eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series victory. It is also Wilson’s second win in a row at Atlanta, with last year’s race coming on the old configuration of the 1.5-mile track.
“This is definitely the number one [win] on my list,” a jubilant Wilson told Blake McCandless post-race. “We came into this race with 10 points, and we’re going to leave with a lot more than that. New Atlanta, Old Atlanta, apparently we’re good no matter what it is.”
Wilson fended off Kollin Keister, who rallied from a spin with 19 laps to go to bring his No. 42 eRacr Chevrolet home in the runner-up spot.
“After I got wrecked, I just tried to pick the right line and get the runs,” Keister reflected after the race. “Things really went my way, that’s for sure. I’m happy to come home with a second-place finish.”
With the Coke Series rolling into the superspeedway configuration of Atlanta for the first time, the race was expected to produce chaos and crashes.
Contrary to that prediction, the race started out mostly clean, with only the occasional near-wreck or single-car incident. Polesitter Ryan Luza piloted his No. 4 XSET Chevrolet to the front for the opening 11 laps, but soon enough, a host of drivers traded the lead over the first half of the race.
A round of green flag pit stops would come and go before the first caution of the evening finally came out on lap 76 when Collin Bowden spun his No. 69 eRacr Chevrolet into the wall in turn two. His teammate Keister would then spin out two laps after on the ensuing restart.
From there, three bigger wrecks would happen in quick succession over the final 15 laps. The first would come with 14 to go when Parker White in the No. 11 lost control and ran up the racetrack, collecting several others, including defending Coke Series champion Casey Kirwan. With five laps to go, the No.43 of Femi Olatunbosun and the No. 51 of Donovan Strauss got together off the exit of four. This led to the first overtime when the No. 15 of Garrett Lowe spun from the lead to trigger a big wreck in turns three and four.
Wilson led the field back to the green for the second—and final—overtime, fending off challenges from Keister and 2021 Coke Series champion Keegan Leahy in the No. 23 23XI Racing Toyota to take the checkered flag and provided a much needed boost to his 2023 season.
ODDS AND ENDS
- Paint Schemes of the Race: On his way to a top-five finish, Cosey Jr. sported a new livery on his No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford representing Georgia Peanuts, one of the plants that Georgia is most known for.
- Meanwhile, Zack Novak paid homage to Kevin Harvick’s memorable Atlantic victory in 2001 with a special paint scheme in his No. 75 Rise eSports Chevrolet. Unfortunately, Novak was unable to replicate Harvick’s success at Atlanta, finishing several laps down in 37th place.
- Darik Bourdeau in the No. 1 Elliott Sadler eSports Chevrolet was out for this race, serving a one-race suspension for contact with Vicente Salas under yellow in the last race at Milwaukee.
- Kirwan, Michael Conti, Nick Ottinger, and Malik Ray spent time at the Charlotte Hornets game this past Sunday introducing fans to iRacing as part of a promotion for the Hornets’ Venom GT eSports squad.
- Points Standings Update: Bowlin inherits the points lead, four points ahead of Ottinger and nine points in front of Conti. Wilson’s win propels him all way up to 20th in the standings.
The Coca-Cola iRacing Series returns in two weeks on Tuesday, March 28 for 130 laps around Richmond Raceway. Coverage will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET on Twitch.tv/iRacing, YouTube.com/iRacing, and eNASCAR.com.
About the author
Andrew Stoddard joined Frontstretch in May of 2022 as an iRacing contributor. He is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, the University of Richmond, and VCU. He has a new day job as an athletic communications specialist at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va.
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