Race Weekend Central

Dylan Duval in First Place at Right Time for eNCCiS Victory at Talladega

For Dylan Duval, his nearly eight-year-long wait to get back to eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series victory lane is finally over.

Duval only led two laps at Talladega Superspeedway on Tuesday night (May 7), but it was the last two laps on the way to his second career eNCCiS win. Duval’s first career win took place 2,842 days ago at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2016.

“It feels incredible,” an emotional Duval said during the Sunoco Post Race Report. “I can’t thank everyone enough who stuck with me through this journey all of these years.”

Tucker Minter escaped the streak of late crashes, cautions, and three overtimes to finish second, followed by Garrett Lowe in third. The Joe Gibbs Racing duo of Bobby Zalenski and Daniel Faulkingham placed fourth and fifth, respectively.  

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TONIGHT’S ACTION

Malik Ray led the field to green from the pole, and it did not take long for the action to pick up throughout the 40-car field. From lap one, drivers went three or four-wide to improve their track position, with several drivers taking their turn at the point. Meanwhile, Vicente Salas served a pass-through penalty at the start, stemming from a pit road violation two weeks ago at Dover.

Despite the aggressive racing and tight quarters in the pack, the first half of the race stayed caution-free. Nick Ottinger had a close call on lap 17, getting pushed out of the pack on the backstretch but saving his car from spinning or getting any damage. However, Ottinger, the 2020 eNCCiS champion, did go a lap down later in the race.

On lap 26, Casey Kirwan’s No. 77 Spire Chevrolet sustained significant damage while trying to make his way through the pack. The 2022 eNCCiS champion pulled down pit road under green for repairs, losing both the draft and the lead lap.

With 34 laps to go, the green-flag pit cycle commenced with four or five cars coming down for service. Some drivers took two tires, while others put on four fresh Goodyears. The green-flag pit sequence came and went without any incidents or penalties, though Timmy Holmes nearly wrecked entering pit road on lap 39.

With pit stops done, the aggressive racing picked up throughout the pack. It seemed like just a matter of time before a big wreck shook up the field.  

Sure enough, with 13 laps remaining, the first caution of the night came out. Graham Bowlin and Taylor Hurst made contact just past the start/finish line, setting off a chain reaction that caught up several other drivers.

Steven Wilson led the field back to green with nine laps left, but the draft did not go his way as the defending series champion fell like a stone through the pack. One lap later, Wilson became part of the Big One after Zack Novak and Zalenski got together off turn four, starting a wreck that included about half of the field. Faulkingham emerged with the top spot as the second caution came out.

The race got back up to speed with four laps remaining, but coming off of turn two that same lap, Parker White checked up a bit and got turned by Collin Bowden, starting another crash that roped in about a dozen cars. That brought out the third caution flag and set the stage for eNASCAR overtime.

On the first overtime, Faulkingham maintained the lead with a push from Bowden, but another wreck in the mid-pack slowed the field down again. In the second overtime, Bowden inherited the lead on the backstretch before Jordy Lopez got spun around to bring the yellow back out and force a third and final overtime attempt.

Bowden brought the field back up to speed for the final overtime. Duval got a push and a run on the high side and kept his bumper in front at the moment of caution following another backstretch wreck to claim the checkered flag.

PLAYOFF STANDINGS (SEVEN RACES LEFT IN REGULAR SEASON)

Steven Wilson2 Wins
Bobby Zalenski1 Win
Wyatt Tinsley1 Win
Dylan Duval1 Win
Vicente Salas+47
Nick Ottinger+43
Parker White+32
Tucker Minter+26
Casey Kirwan+26
Kaden Honeycutt+9
Donovan Strauss-9
Jimmy Mullis-11
Briar LaPradd-12

With the regular season now halfway over, the race for the playoffs is heating up. Four of the ten spots are currently held by race winners, with the battle at the cut line tightening up. Ray and Keegan Leahy have each won a race, but both are currently ineligible for the playoffs due to being outside the top 20 in points.

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NEXT UP

On Tuesday, May 21, the drivers of the eNCCiS will gear up for their longest race of the year: 160 laps around the virtual Charlotte Motor Speedway.  Race coverage starts at 7:30 p.m. with Countdown to Green, followed by the green flag shortly after 8 p.m. on enascar.com/live, youtube.com/iracingofficial, and twitch.tv/iracing.

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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