William Byron Continues eNASCAR iRacing Dominance at Richmond
William Byron remained the class of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series field on Sunday at Richmond International Raceway, once again leading the most laps from the front row, and becoming the first driver to win twice during the ongoing coronavirus shutdown.
If not for a bump-and-run by Timmy Hill three weeks ago at Texas, Byron would have won three consecutive races.
To win at Richmond, Byron once again needed to ward off the threat of a Hill bump-and-run on an overtime finish, but it never came. Hill wasn’t able to get close enough to the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 as it cruised to victory lane.
“He raced me really clean,” Byron said. “I was really thankful for that. We’ve had some good races, honestly. Texas, obviously I was frustrated with Texas, but if I would have been in his position, I probably would have done the same thing, looking back on it.
“I think he’s done a really good job showing how consistent he is. I feel like he’s got good race craft, and I enjoy racing with him. I know what to expect when I race with him, that he is going to use the bumper, so I just have to race him back that way, and I think we both understand that.
“Fortunately, I had just enough speed to kind of keep my gap there and win that race.”
There was only one other leader in the race: Ryan Preece led the first 59 laps from the pole, with Byron pacing the final 96 laps. For the final several laps he was on older tires as he made a strategy play to retain his track position.
It came down to an extremely realistic tire wear gamble.
“Really, we made our decisions on staying out there based on our practice speed and what we anticipated the tires going through a heat cycle and taking back off, and I think if I had one more restart, I think that next heat cycle on my tires there would have been really bad for me,” Byron said. “It’s the same thing in real life. I think that’s pretty cool how iRacing simulated the heat in the tires and stuff like that, which you saw in qualifying. It was a big deal to get heat in your tires and stuff.”
The race included just six cautions for 36 laps, a drastic decrease from the crashfest at Bristol two weeks ago.
That race resulted in several rule changes. The first of which was the lack of a quick repair reset, which allows a car to automatically repair itself. Now, if a car is damaged, it takes several minutes to repair, eliminating a driver from contention.
That resulted in a cleaner race.
“There was way less intentional contact,” Byron said. “People were cleaner and more methodical with the way that they raced. I thought that was a good thing. I thought they were still hard racing, but guys weren’t running all over each other for position. I was really pleased with that.
“I mean, I don’t know what it looked like, honestly, but I was pleased with how the racing was, with myself and Ryan Preece and Timmy Hill, and then throughout the field I thought it was good.”
The field was originally decreased to 26 drivers, but it was expanded to four extra spots given to the winners of two last chance races and two television provisionals. Guaranteed starting spots go to full-time select chartered Cup Series drivers and iRacing veterans.
Bobby Labonte and Landon Cassill raced their way in, with Daniel Suárez and Dale Earnhardt Jr. earning promoter choice spots.
1. William Byron
2. Timmy Hill
3. Parker Kligerman
4. Landon Cassill
5. Kyle Busch
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Erik Jones
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr
9. Bubba Wallace
10. Brad Keselowski
11. Chase Elliott
12. Tyler Reddick
13. Ross Chastain
14. Bobby Labonte
15. Ty Dillon
16. John Hunter Nemechek
17. Garrett Smithley
18. Daniel Suárez
19. Ryan Preece
20. Kurt Busch
21. Chris Buescher
22. Alex Bowman
23. Ryan Blaney
24. Christopher Bell
25. Joey Logano
26. Jimmie Johnson
27. Matt DiBenedetto
28. Austin Dillon
29. Kevin Harvick
30. Clint Bowyer
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