Vicente Salas dominated like no driver ever has before.
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series rookie, driving for Spacestation Gaming, led all 203 laps at the virtual Richmond Raceway Tuesday night.
It was the first time in the 12-season history of the series that a driver led wire-to-wire on an oval track.
The 18-year-old driver started on pole for the first time in his career and immediately set sail from the drop of the green flag. Fellow rookie Garrett Manes held pace behind Salas in second for much of the opening run of the race, which stayed green until the one-quarter mark, but couldn’t match the speed of the No. 55 Ford.
The first three quarters of the race were relatively calm — for short-track standards — where just three cautions flew in the first 150 laps. Unlike the last race of the series at Auto Club Speedway two weeks ago, pit strategy didn’t play much of a factor; it was all about staying out of trouble on a track where passing was difficult and often required the use of a bumper.
A four-car crash with under five laps to go set up the race for an overtime finish, Salas still at the point. Manes, of Elliott Sadler Esports, and XSET’s Ryan Luza fought for second place, but it was the best they could muster as Salas showed unmatched pace on restarts. The rookie held on to become the 56th different winner in series history — leading every single lap in the process.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 14, 2021
Salas also became the sixth different winner in six races — a noteworthy statistic considering a win can guarantee a playoff berth (and a shot at $100,000), but only 10 drivers will make the playoffs. With plenty of time before the playoffs begin in August, the unique-winner trend could require race winners to have a little more under their belts — wins and points — before competing for a championship.
— Spacestation Racing (@ssgracing) April 14, 2021
Manes was able to hold off Luza for second place, while Isaac Gann and Bobby Zalenski rounded out the top five.
The victory was the first for Spacestation Gaming in the team’s first season competing in the Coca-Cola iRacing Series.
— Spacestation Gaming (@SpacestationGG) April 14, 2021
Salas’ 203 laps led marked the most-ever by a Coca-Cola iRacing Series driver in a single race, edging Kenny Humpe’s 2015 record of 194 laps led en route to a Richmond Raceway victory.
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series continues its season at Kansas Speedway on April 27.