Wins at virtual Myrtle Beach Speedway advanced Ryan Preece and Landon Cassill into the championship race in the NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge.
Preece put on an entertaining drive in the first 45-lap race held Wednesday night. Although he lined up on the pole, a poor start dropped Preece last by the end of the first lap, but he joked over his radio that by lap 15 he was going to start making a run.
As Preece got himself together, Myatt Snider led the first 21 laps. But the story of the race was about which of the six drivers would save their tires best, and when Snider started to fade, Timmy Hill took the top spot.
Hill led until Preece made his charge. He was fifth on lap 15, then fourth a lap later. He moved into the third position on lap 23, took second with 19 laps to go, and then grabbed the top spot and drove away with a manageable gap over Dale Earnhardt Jr. two laps later.
“That was pretty cool,” said Preece. “You don’t want to show your poker hand (early), you just have to play it through. But that was fun. That was cool.”
Tire-saving ending up biting some drivers in the second race, and there was little action upfront.
The inverted lineup put Snider on the pole, but he immediately pulled over and dropped to the rear to save rubber. But he got so far behind – over six seconds – that he never rebounded, and finished last.
Hill took the lead on the start but was overtaken just before halfway by Cassill. The longer the race went on, the more the field started to get strung out as tires began to wear. Cassill drove away for the win over Hill, Matt DiBenedetto, Preece, Earnhardt, and Snider.
“I felt in that first they over saved a little bit, and I looked at my tire wear after the race, and my tire wear was actually really reasonable, so I kind of thought we could push a lot harder for the entire race instead of having to wait,” said Cassill. “That was the plan, and I did it.”
NBC Sports broadcaster Steve Letarte handed out three Peacock Provisionals to complete the field for the championship race at virtual Martinsville Speedway. That race will take place tomorrow night.
Receiving provisional were Chase Briscoe, Parker Kligerman, and Earnhardt. Those three drivers join the winners of the two previous races, William Byron, Kyle Larson, and Christopher Bell, and the other provisional drivers in Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.