In the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, there are no random mechanical failures — except for those that result when the outside world meddles with the virtual one. That’s precisely what happened to the series’ reigning champion Nick Ottinger while he was in the battle for a playoff spot in the final race before the postseason.
While running second behind his William Byron eSports teammate, Logan Clampitt, Ottinger’s power at his home failed. He lost his connection to the race server and in doing so, lost his chance at a spot in the playoffs.
That incident at Michigan earlier this week wasn’t the sole reason the 2020 champion won’t be going for a second-consecutive title, though.
“Last night was a factor but it’s the last factor. I’ve had many chances, many opportunities in the season,” Ottinger told RACER.
“I think like 80% of the races this year we’ve brought race-winning cars for our Logitech G team and that’s all you can ask for on this level of competition, because it’s so hard at different track types to bring competitive cars. Throughout the whole year we’ve brought stellar pieces, and we’ve had chances, and that’s all you can ask for.
“We’ve been on the outlook of potentially getting a win and something catastrophic like Michigan happens where we lost power. But by the same token, you have a missed-time caution, and it just throws a lot of stuff out of your plans and strategies.”
The power failure occurred while Ottinger was behind his teammate Clampitt, who entered the Michigan race already holding a ticket to the playoffs. There were no team orders on deck if the situation arose where Ottinger needed to pass only Clampitt to make it the postseason, though.
“I want to make sure I earn my spot and it didn’t pan out for us this year. There are no team orders — [Clampitt] is going out there to make sure that he is getting a playoff spot as best as he can for his No. 97 team and for our William Byron eSports team.
“It was my job to close the deal out 13 races before and get the job done. I’m mad about it, looking back, it’s motorsports man, it’s how it trickles down. You have good luck or bad luck and then you have misfortunes and sometimes everything goes your way. It didn’t go our way this season, but we’ve got four races left,” Ottinger said.
Missing the playoffs is “heartbreaking, it’s disappointing, it’s frustrating because of how good we’ve been this year and good I feel,” Ottinger explained. The North Carolina native added that it’s doubly frustrating to miss the playoffs after making progress in a number of areas of his skillset that he felt was lacking.
As for what goes through a driver’s mind when their screen goes black, and their championship hopes vanish with it? “Some not-so-nice words, that’s for sure,” Ottinger said.