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Ottinger survives eNASCAR’s debut on dirt, takes Bristol checkered flag

Images via Justin Melillo

William Byron eSports driver Nick Ottinger got around Charlotte Phoenix’s Graham Bowlin with 50 laps to go and never looked back on Tuesday night, scoring his first win of the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season at Bristol Motor Speedway. The 2020 series champion came from fifth on the grid to score the historic victory in the first-ever dirt race at eNASCAR’s highest level and took over the points lead in the process.

Much like its real-world NASCAR Cup Series counterpart later this week, Tuesday night’s action at Bristol started with heat races, but the pair of 25-lap sessions couldn’t have been more different from one another. Bowlin checked out on the field in the first, extending a lead of more than two seconds over Stewart-Haas eSports driver Steven Wilson at race’s end, but the second saw the front runners closely packed for the entire race on a more worn-in track. In the end, it was Elliott Sadler eSports’ Garrett Manes winning the latter, taking the lead from Team Dillon Esports’ Corey Vincent with six laps remaining.

But while the two heat races saw half the field in each, the 120-lap main event would put all 40 cars on track together for the first time, and the early results were chaotic. Numerous multi-car accidents in the first half of the race took names like 2021 champion Keegan Leahy and two-time 2022 winner Michael Conti out of contention right away, forcing them to salvage as many points as possible while laps down. Manes was able to make a pass on Bowlin for the lead during one of the green-flag pockets but contact and a spin soon after meant it was short-lived.

When all was said and done, eight cautions for 34 laps slowed the early pace, but the field remained clean and green from Lap 65 forward. It was soon after that restart that Ottinger made the winning pass on Bowlin and never looked back, while Wilson would eventually get around Bowlin for second as well. But despite missing out on the victory, dual top 10s for Bowlin and Kollin Keister enabled Charlotte Phoenix to take over the lead in the teams’ championship.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series results from Bristol Motor Speedway (dirt) were as follows:

Results

eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series points through five rounds are as follows:

  1. Nick Ottinger, 152
  2. Steven Wilson, 150
  3. Graham Bowlin, 140
  4. Femi Olatunbosun, 135
  5. Matt Bussa, 127
  6. Blake Reynolds, 126
  7. Bobby Zalenski, 119
  8. Michael Conti, 117
  9. Casey Kirwan, 116
  10. Kollin Keister, 114

The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series returns to action in two weeks at Dover Motor Speedway, as the high-banked Monster Mile will return to the series calendar after a one-year absence in 2021. Broadcast coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, April 26 with Countdown to Green before the 9 p.m. ET green flag. Live coverage of all the action can be seen at enascar.com/live.

For more information on the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, visit www.enascar.com or www.iracing.com/enascar. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit www.iracing.com.