Byron takes victory in Esports Pro Invitational at Richmond

Image via eNASCAR

Byron takes victory in Esports Pro Invitational at Richmond

Esports

Byron takes victory in Esports Pro Invitational at Richmond

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William Byron became the first repeat winner in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series with a win Sunday afternoon at virtual Richmond Raceway.

Byron put the No. 24 Chevrolet out front on Lap 61, taking the top spot from pole-sitter Ryan Preece. Although there were multiple cautions, pit strategy, and an overtime attempt, Byron held the top spot and led a race-high 94 laps.

Two weeks ago, Byron also took the win at virtual Bristol Motor Speedway. Drivers did not compete last weekend on Easter.

Byron has credited iRacing with helping make him a professional race car driver.

“I wasn’t in a racing family growing up, so this was really my avenue to cut my teeth,” said Byron. “Obviously, much different way than most guys grew up, but I feel like in my generation, it’s pretty normal, so very thankful for what it’s done for me.

“I was really, really concerned that we were going to have two older tires there on the restart, but we were able to get good exits off the corner and just have a pretty decent restart and get the win.”

Byron held off Timmy Hill, who had fresher tires. Byron had stayed on track when the caution flew with 37 laps to go along with Erik Jones, Christopher Bell, and Garrett Smithley. With clean air, Byron drove away from the field while the others with older tires faded.

Hill charged to second before the overtime attempt that put him, Parker Kligerman, and Denny Hamlin on Byron’s bumper. But Byron jumped away on the restart and took the checkered flag.

Kligerman finished third with Landon Cassill fourth and Kyle Busch rounding out the top five. Hamlin finished sixth with Jones seventh. Cassill finished second in the Sunday morning last chance qualifier to earn a spot in the feature race.

Finishing eighth was Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt made the feature race through a Fox provisional, after finishing fourth in the last chance qualifier.

Darrell Wallace Jr. finished ninth and Brad Keselowski completed the top 10.

Bobby Labonte wound up 14th. Labonte, still driving the No. 19 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, advanced into the feature race after starting from the pole and winning the last chance qualifier. Also earning a provisional to compete in the feature race was Daniel Suarez. He finished third in the last chance qualifier and was 18th in the feature race.

Preece finished 19th after leading the opening 59 laps. He was involved in an accident on Lap 100, and then again in a tangle with Matt DiBenedetto. DiBenedetto was parked with 37 laps to go for intentionally wrecking Preece, who had spun him out a few laps earlier.

Kevin Harvick finished 29th in his first iRacing event. Clint Bowyer finished last after the engine blew in his car.

In all, there were six caution flags at virtual Richmond.

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