Steven Wilson qualified for the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Championship 4 last season, but he came up short of the ultimate prize.
But in his return trip this year to the Championship 4 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, Wilson left no doubt, qualifying second and finishing there to add his name to the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Trophy as an eNCCiS champion.
“It sounds unbelievable,” a jubilant Wilson said post-race. “I can’t believe I’m in this situation. I got to thank Stewart-Haas Racing, Smithfield, everyone who came out to support me, all the family and friends who came out. They’re unbelievable.”
Wilson became the 11th different champion in eNCCiS history and the fifth straight first-time series champion.
Of the other three championship drivers, Tucker Minter came the closest to challenging Wilson with his finish of seventh. Nick Ottinger crossed the line in 13th while Garrett Lowe fell back to 35th by the night’s end.
“It’s crazy that this time last year, I was standing here and watching this race,” Minter reflected afterward. “To be on stage, that was the goal coming into this year. It’s still been an awesome year. Just came up a little bit short.”
As for the race, Donovan Strauss led all 100 laps at Homestead-Miami Speedway to secure his first career series win, the 64th different winner in series history.
Strauss earned his first career pole, and he made the most of it by immediately seizing the lead and keeping it through a long green-flag run.
Wilson, meanwhile, gained an early edge on his championship foes by sitting on the outside pole and settling into second place behind. Minter, Lowe, and Ottinger qualified 15th, 24th, and 30th, respectively, needing to gain ground on Wilson.
While Lowe and Ottinger fell back, Minter steadily moved up the grid, moving up to seventh before the race’s first caution on lap 46 for an incident between Darik Bourdeau and Ryan Luza. Minter then moved up to fifth on yellow-flag pit stops while Wilson maintained second.
Following another quick caution involving previous series champion Casey Kirwan, the race went back to green with 45 laps to go. A couple of laps later, Minter made the pass for third, putting himself just one spot behind Wilson.
However, Minter could not muster a run to Wilson’s rear bumper, and as the laps passed by, Minter began to fade to the back half of the top 10. Wilson stayed in second position, following in the tire tracks of Strauss. Minter, Ottinger, and Lowe hoped for a caution, but it never came as Strauss cruised to the win and Wilson to the championship.
ODDS AND ENDS
- Team Championship
- Team Dillon eSports cruised to the 2023 Championship on the strength of playoff drivers, and rookies, Minter and Jordy Lopez.
- Top 20 Relegation
- Saying Farewell
- As announced before the season, this was the last career eNCCiS race for Michael Conti. The 2014 champion finished his final race in the 30th position.
- Allen Boes announced his retirement from the series via a post on his X profile a few hours before the race. The three-time race winner bowed out with a 38th-place finish.
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series will return for the 2024 season in February. The 2024 season schedule will be announced at a later date.
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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