William Byron swept the first two races of the NBC Esports Short Track iRacing Challenge held at virtual Rockingham Speedway.
Monday night kicked off the NASCAR Esports event with two 35-lap races featuring six drivers. Byron started on the pole for the first race and led every lap, jumping away from the field with Parker Kligerman on the initial start.
It took about 10 laps before Byron then started gapping Kligerman, driving to a margin of victory of about four seconds. Kligerman held on to finish second.
Kyle Busch was third with Tyler Reddick fourth, Austin Dillon fifth, and Darrell Wallace Jr. sixth. Busch started fourth and stayed out of trouble while Reddick put the bumper to his teammate on lap 6 in Turn 1. Wallace faded after burning up his tires.
“It was good,” said Byron of his win in the first race. “We just kept the tires on it at the beginning, and that was really good. Fun track — love the Cup car around here with the low downforce. It’s a good time.”
The victory locked Byron into the championship race, which will be held Thursday night at virtual Martinsville Speedway.
In Race 2, Byron solidified his position and kept Kligerman from locking up a title spot. The lineup for the second race was inverted from the finish of the first, putting Kligerman and Byron on the last row.
Wallace started from the pole and led the first seven laps. Dillon and Reddick started second and third, but wrecked going into Turn 3 on the first lap. Dillon bounced off the outside wall and then collided with his Richard Childress Racing teammate, who was charging underneath him.
Dillon needed to use a reset after the accident.
Busch took the lead on lap 8 with Kligerman moving up to second and Byron to third. Kligerman then got to the inside of Busch off Turn 4 on lap 17 and completed the pass for the lead going into Turn 1.
Byron took second the following lap, and he Kligerman again drove away from the field. Reddick lost additional track position when he had to use a reset after spinning on the backstretch on lap 22.
On the final lap, Byron put the bumper to Kligerman going into Turn 3 and moved him up the track. Kligerman wound up second again with Busch third, Wallace fourth, and Dillon and Reddick multiple laps down in fifth and sixth, respectively.
“I had to do my ‘Intimidator’ impression, I guess,” said Byron. “It was fun; we had fun with that race. Parker was really fast; he figured it out, and I didn’t have much left, but he kind of backed up in (Turn) 3, I drove in super deep, and it worked out.”
Rick Allen and Steve Letarte called the action. With Byron taking one of the two spots available in the championship race (which will feature 10 drivers), Letarte gave the first “Peacock Provisional” to Busch for a shot at the title.
The race featured Letarte talking to the drivers as the race was being run, and an entertaining “Driver to Driver” chat where all six drivers were heard talking and commenting on the race while driving.
The series continues Tuesday night with racing from virtual Lucas Oil Raceway.