Nick Ottinger came into Dover with his back against the wall, sitting ninth in the eNCCiS playoff standing, 23 points below the cutline and needing a great run at the Monster Mile. Ottinger came through in the clutch, overcoming an untimely yellow during a pit sequence and rallying late for his first win of 2023 and the 20th of his eNCCiS career. With the victory, Ottinger booked his spot in the Championship 4 to battle for the title.
“First off, I have to give a big shout-out to my crew chief Brandon Hastings,” Ottinger said. “He adjusted the car like we needed on the short run, and it played into our favor. I was using my tires up at the end, but when you’re going for a spot in the final four, you’re going to go all out.”
Steven Wilson proved to be Ottinger’s stiffest competition throughout the evening, but he ultimately took the checkered flag in second.
“I feel pretty good,” Wilson remarked when asked about his race. “Obviously, me and Nick were 1-2 during the green-flag run. He was pretty good, so I think it was a pretty deserving win for him. If I had a couple of laps, I think I could have gotten there.”
For the 24th time in his career, Ottinger led the 39-car field to green at the Monster Mile, but they could not make it around a full lap before the race’s first caution, primarily involving Darik Bourdeau in the No. 1 Sadler eSports Chevrolet. This was a big break for Bobby Zalenski, who had to start the race from pit road due to a penalty.
Following the lap 5 restart, the race settled into a long green-flag run. After Ottinger led the opening 10 circuits, Dylan Duval assumed the top spot on lap 11 and opened up about a 1.5-second lead. However, as the tire wear kicked in, Ottinger caught back up to Duval and took back the point around lap 40.
On lap 60, a cycle of green-flag pit cycles got underway. Wilson pitted on lap 61, followed by the race leader Ottinger on lap 62. By pitting earlier and running one lap on fresh tires, Wilson leapfrogged Ottinger on the track.
A handful of drivers, including playoff contenders Lowe, Mullis and Michael Guest, stayed out as long as they could hoping to catch a caution. With 37 laps left, they got the caution they needed; unfortunately for Guest, he was the caution after his right rear tire went flat, hitting the wall in turn two. As for Lowe and Mullis, they were first and second off of pit road during yellow-flag pit stops, gaining significant track position.
The field got back up to speed with 32 laps to go, but two laps later, a chain reaction led to a crash involving playoff drivers Casey Kirwan and Zalenski.
After a couple of more quick cautions, the final restart came with nine laps to go. Lowe led the way back to green, but Ottinger was right on his bumper on second. Seeking a second straight win, Lowe succumbed to Ottinger’s superior speed with six laps to go. Ottinger held off a late charge to snag his first checkered flag of the season.
ODDS AND ENDS
- Paint Schemes of the Week
- Zack Novak and Rise eSports have brought memorable schemes to the track all season long, and Dover was no different. Novak’s No. 75 Chevrolet was adorned in the classic colors of Jimmie Johnson’s famous No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet as a nod to the seven-time Cup Series champion and 11-time winner at Dover.
- Today, NASCAR and iRacing announced that the eNCCiS Championship finale will return to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 26. The Championship 4 drivers will compete for the title in front of a live audience, followed by the presentation of the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Cup to the champion.
PLAYOFF PICTURE (1 Race Remaining in the Round of 10)
|Garrett Lowe||1 Win|
|Nick Ottinger||1 Win|
|Michael Guest||2,062 (-4)|
|Casey Kirwan||2,059 (-7)|
|Tucker Minter||2,051 (-15)|
|Bobby Zalenski||2,047 (-19)|
|Jimmy Mullis||2,047 (-19)|
|Michael Conti||2,040 (-26)|
Ottinger’s win assures him of spot in the Championship 4 in Charlotte, leaving a mere two spots up for grabs among the eight other playoff drivers. Phoenix figures is setting up to be a chaotic race, with several drivers going for broke to get their chance at racing for the championship.
The eNCCiS Championship 4 will be set in two weeks on Tuesday, September 12, with 120 laps around Phoenix Raceway. Coverage will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET with Countdown to Green presented by Wendy’s, followed by the green flag from the virtual desert 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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