Michael Guest had 105 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series starts under his belt without a race win. It turned out that the 106th career start was the charm, as Guest took the lead late and held off challenges from a host of drivers to win the regular season finale at Pocono Raceway for his first career win and a spot in the eNCCiS playoffs.
“It feels great,” Guest told Blake McCandless post-race. “I definitely wanted to win one of these before I stopped [racing]. I’ve always considered myself to be pretty good at these fixed-setup races, so I know I had a good chance tonight. I’m so happy.”
Malik Ray came up one spot short of the win and a ticket to the postseason with his second-place result. Dylan Duval was in third and Nick Ottinger ended the race in fourth. Matt Bussa led the most laps on the night, but he had to settle for a fifth-place finish.
Ottinger sat on pole for the fourth time this season, but he quickly surrendered the lead to his William Byron eSports teammate Bussa. Bussa would lead the first four laps under green before the race’s first caution for contact between Cody Byus and Collin Bowden in turn two.
Bussa led them back to green on lap eight, but the field went back under yellow one lap later when Joey Brown hit the inside wall just off of turn one. That was good news for Ray, who got the free pass to get back on the lead lap after briefly disconnecting from the server.
After another quick yellow for a multi-car wreck just past turn one, a handful of drivers came down pit road on lap 16 to get fresh tires and a full tank of fuel, banking on more cautions to help them make it to the end.
After a lap 18 restart, the race settled into a longer green-flag run, with the William Byron eSports duo of Bussa and Ottinger controlling the pace in first and second, respectively, as the 39-car field passed the halfway point on lap 30.
With 26 laps remaining, a cycle of green-flag pit stops began with Bobby Zalenski and Jordy Lopez coming down for service. One lap later, Bussa and the rest of the lead pack stopped for tires and fuel. This briefly cycled Ray to the race lead before he too stopped in his pit stall for four tires and fuel. A handful of other drivers, led by Michael Cosey Jr. in the No. 38, attempted to stretch their fuel even further to catch a caution.
On lap 49, Jimmy Mullis got into Kevin King just before turn three, sending King into the wall and bringing out the race’s fourth caution. With the field bunched back up, about half of the drivers came down pit road while the other half stayed out as Garrett Lowe inherited the race lead.
Inside the final 10 laps, cautions began to breed cautions, with two cautions in the final eight laps of regulation. With three laps remaining, Guest snatched the lead from Lowe just before Brandon McKissic and Ryan Luza wrecked between turns two and three to bring out the sixth caution and send the race into overtime.
Guest got a good restart on the first overtime, but a wreck in the back of the pack meant a second overtime was on deck. In that second overtime, Guest again fired off well, but he had to stave off challenges from the likes of Ottinger, Ray, and Bussa to come back around to the checkered flag a winner as chaos happened with multiple wrecks behind him.
ODDS AND ENDS
- Paint Schemes of the Week
- Rise eSports has been bringing creative liveries to the track all season long, and Pocono was no different. Zack Novak paid tribute to Bobby Allison’s famous Coca-Cola car from the 1970s with the scheme on his No. 75 Sunoco Chevrolet. Meanwhile, his teammate Mullis sported a light blue look on his No. 46 Sunoco Chevrolet.
With the regular season now in the rearview, the 10 drivers listed above will look ahead to the playoffs. The points reset to 2,000 for each playoff driver plus three points for each regular season win, which puts Zalenski in the top spot going into the playoff opener in two weeks. Ottinger holds the 10th and final spot as the only non-winner among the playoff drivers as he qualified in solely on points.
The eNCCiS Playoffs Round of 10 gets underway on Tuesday, August 15, with 70 laps at Michigan International Speedway. Coverage will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET with Countdown to Green presented by Wendy’s, followed by the green shortly after 9 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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