A first-time winner won the final NASCAR-sanctioned event from old Atlanta Motor Speedway after Stewart Haas eSports’ Steven Wilson defended a late-race charge from Mode Motorsports’ Matt Bussa to win Tuesday night’s eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series race.
Unlike most of the eNASCAR races this season, Atlanta’s race served not as a preview of the Next Gen car at new tracks but rather as one last hurrah for the old and worn-out track surface.
“Obviously, now I have some pretty good memories of this track,” Wilson said. “It’s always been one that I’ve enjoyed on iRacing and it’s a fun one to drive. I’m going to miss it but hopefully, the new one has some good things in store.”
Wilson is the second driver to earn their first career win this season after Femi Olatunbosun won the opening round at Daytona.
The final race from the old AMS presented a top line that was dominant, and it was not uncommon to see over 20 drivers’ nose-to-tail, around the top.
“This package that we’ve got going on is very stressful, like, very stressful, so you don’t really have time to run your own race here,” said Michael Guest, who finished third after starting 12th on the final restart. A mix of some cars on old tires and some on new ones saw Guest shoot towards the front of the pack — even if he didn’t want to.
“I was really just trying to get a top 10, so honestly, I was content with where I was at but the tires were just pushing me to the front. I went to the bottom on the last lap and there was a lot happening above me… by the time I was in Turn 3, I was up to like fifth. Then coming out of 4, they just all made contact for the lead and here I ended up third,” Guest explained.
Several drivers were able to climb through the field on track, one of whom was Casey Kirwan who was able to get the bottom line to work at various points in the race. If a driver tried the bottom and couldn’t find a spot in line on exit, however, they were likely to be sent backward. Kirwan saw that firsthand late in the race as he squabbled in the top five before settling for an eighth-place finish.
Bussa went from completing a 360-degree spin down the front stretch with five laps remaining to finish second. Contact from Kirwan sent Bussa pirouetting across the line, but he managed to keep the car out of the wall and away from the rest of the field.
Bussa was running in fifth at the time and only dropped down to ninth because of the spin. He restarted in seventh after two cars ahead of him dove to pit road.
“I’ll say half skill, half luck,” Bussa joked. “At the beginning of the spin, I knew that Casey was going to keep flooring it so I was also flooring it just to try and get out of his way so I wouldn’t end up collecting him. If I collected him, I wouldn’t have been able to do the 360 — we both would’ve just gone into the wall.
“Once I saw him get by, I was just holding the wheel far left and the second the car started to kind of point to the left I spun it back right and also locked down the brakes. By doing that, locking down the brake and swinging the wheel back to the right, let it straighten out,” Bussa said.
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series returns on March 29 when the field heads to Richmond Raceway. Vicente Salas won last year’s race there and became the only driver to lead every lap of an oval race in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series on his way to victory lane.
The championship will then head to Bristol for the first dirt race in the history of the series.