Reigning DIRTcar eSports Tour champion Kendal Tucker scored his first victory of the season in his third start Wednesday night, taking the lead from polesitter Nick Cooper in the early going and holding on for the $250 victory.
Tucker pads large points lead, looks to seal second straight title in two weeks’ time
White flag. Big slide job in Turns 1-2 by Alex Bergeron. Kendal Tucker crosses underneath him with the lead as they exit Turn 2. Then, big contact.
Both drivers dove for the inside of Turn 3 at Kokomo Speedway, neither willing to give an inch as they rounded the final corners before the finish line. Some contact was made, then some more, and even more still as they crossed underneath the checkered flag in Wednesday night’s NOS Energy Drink 360 Sprint Car Feature.
The iRacing simulation showed Bergeron as the winner, but DIRTcar eSports officials determined, in post-race review, that Bergeron was at fault in the incident for initiating the contact with Tucker. Therefore, Bergeron was handed a two-spot post-race penalty, and officially scored in third place.
This handed the $250 Feature win over to Tucker and moved original third-place Dylan Houser into second.
The last-lap fireworks succeeded a very entertaining 30 laps around the virtual quarter-mile, filled with several clean slide jobs for the lead as Houser and Bergeron tried to wrestle the lead from polesitter Tucker, who led all but the final lap.
Houser was the first to do so on Lap 25, launching a big slider in Turns 3-4 that Tucker quickly turned underneath to regain the position. Bergeron threw one the very next corner, which Tucker answered immediately, driving right back by him on the inside to take the spot back.
Tucker led the race through the white flag before Bergeron threw the slide job at him again in Turn 1 before the final-corner melee that decided the race, ultimately handing Tucker his second Tour Feature victory of Season 3.
The DIRTcar eSports Tour is back in action next Wednesday night, May 19, for Round #9, featuring the 358 Small-Block Modifieds at USA International Speedway. Catch all the action live on DIRTVision presented by Drydene.
The virtual Big Blocks, which reached season-high car counts last season, are back as the focus of a 10-race Tour, every Wednesday from March 24 to May 26, for Season 3 – one that also includes the return of the Chevy Performance Street Stock League for its second season.
Beginning with the first race at Weedsport Speedway on March 24, the Big Blocks will contest five races on the Season 3 Tour, alternating each Wednesday night with 360 Sprint Cars, Pro Late Models, UMP Modifieds, 358 Modifieds and the first-ever appearance by dirt Midgets. iRacing’s newest dirt track at Bristol Motor Speedway also has its spot on the docket, setting the stage for a Week 2 showdown with the UMP Modifieds.
All 10 races will be $250-to-win and pay back through the Feature field. Commemorative trophies will be awarded to the podium finishers in the final points standings after the Week 10 finale at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
The Chevy Performance Street Stock League will also begin March 24, setting out on a 10-race championship chase of its own. Racing across eight different tracks, competitors will chase a $100 top prize each night as Feature winner.
New to the Street Stock campaign in Season 3 is the highly requested addition of a points championship system, mirroring that of the DIRTcar eSports Tour. Trophies will be awarded to the podium finishers in final points after 10 races.
Following the precedent set in Season 2, the Street Stock League will once again be held with the more causal sim racer in mind, and thus only be available for competitors with iRatings 4800 and below.
Every race will once again be broadcasted on DIRTVision presented by Drydene, free to all account holders. Street Stocks will kick each night off with practice at 6:50pm ET and Qualifying at 7pm. The Tour session will open with practice at 7:50pm ET and follow with Qualifying.
Registration for each race tentatively closes the Monday before each event and is now open for all 10 events in each league.
DIRTcar eSports Tour Season 3 Schedule
March 24 – Big Block Modifieds at Weedsport Speedway (50 Laps)
March 31 – UMP Modifieds at Bristol Motor Speedway (40 Laps)
April 7 – Big Block Modifieds at Williams Grove Speedway (50 Laps)
April 14 – Pro Late Models at The Dirt Track at Charlotte (40 Laps)
April 21 – Big Block Modifieds at Lernerville Speedway (50 Laps)
April 28 – Midgets at Lanier National Speedway (30 Laps)
May 5 – Big Block Modifieds at Cedar Lake Speedway (50 Laps)
May 12 – 360 Sprint Cars at Kokomo Speedway (30 Laps)
May 19 – 358 Small Block Modifieds at USA International Speedway (40 Laps)
May 26 – Big Block Modifieds at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway (50 Laps)
Chevy Performance Street Stock League Season 3 Schedule
March 24 – Knoxville Raceway (20 Laps)
March 31 – Limaland Motorsports Park (25 Laps)
April 7 – Eldora Speedway (20 Laps)
April 14 – Fairbury Speedway (25 Laps)
April 21 – Cedar Lake Speedway (25 Laps)
April 28 – Lernerville Speedway (25 Laps)
May 5 – Limaland Motorsports Park (25 Laps)
May 12 – Eldora Speedway (20 Laps)
May 19 – Williams Grove Speedway (20 Laps)
May 26 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway (25 Laps)
Bailey denied back-to-back wins after leading late; Tucker notches fourth-straight podium
White flag. Bryce Bailey was five turns away from capturing his second-straight DIRTcar eSports Tour victory as he rounded the high side of Turn 4.
Slide job. David Heileman had stolen the lead and began to drive away as the field dashed into Turn 1.
Checkered flag. Heileman becomes the fourth different Tour winner in four races with the 360 Sprint Cars presented by NOS Energy Drink at Knoxville Raceway.
Bailey, of Waverly, NY, gave it all he had in the final corners, but just couldn’t make the bottom work well enough to close the gap Heileman had opened up with the big slider in Turn 4.
“I can’t roll the bottom here very well. I knew I had to stick to the top or I was just gonna drop and anchor and go backwards,” Bailey told announcer Rick Eshelman in the DIRTVision post-race interview.
But Heileman, of Milwaukee, WI, used up every inch of the bottom lane throughout Wednesday night’s 30-lap Feature event to pick up the $250 paycheck, making the shortest way around the virtual half-mile the best way around right from the drop of the green.
Starting from the outside pole, Bailey got the early jump and led the race through the halfway point, surviving a few restarts while the major players made their way to the front. Specifically, iRacing’s two-time and defending World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car World Champion, Alex Bergeron, who was forced to come from 16th after an incident in his Heat Race put him in a Last Chance race to get him in the show.
Bergeron, of Drummondville, QC, had made his way up to fourth and, after a restart on Lap 16, gave race leader Bailey a big challenge for the top spot as they sped down the backstretch. Heileman was right on his heels heading into Turn 3 and looked low to retake second, but got a nose full of rear bumper.
Bergeron slipped up after the contact while Heileman moved down even lower, but a wheel hop onto the inside berm sent Heileman back up into Bergeron out of Turn 4, sending him into the outside wall and tangling with other cars on the front stretch. The caution was thrown, and for the second time in one night, Bergeron was headed for pit road.
“We came down from the top, had a little more momentum and knocked [Bergeron] off the line a little bit,” Heileman said of the incident. “I thought about back when he jumped the start in the Heat Race, so I saw an open door and took it. That’s just short track racing.”
With Bergeron again forced to come from the back, this opened the door for Heileman to put his focus back on Bailey. Which, he did, pulling even with him as they raced side-by-side under five laps to go. He out-muscled Bailey on the low side to grab the lead with just three-to-go before Bailey returned the pass with a little shove out of the groove down low next lap as they entered Turn 1.
Then, the big slider from Heileman to force the third lead change of the night. He carried the top spot all the way back around to the checkers for his first career victory with the Tour.
“When you’re racing like that, with three to go, especially on the DIRTVision broadcast… it’s kinda like all bets are off. You don’t care about finishing top-three or anything, it’s like we’re either gonna win-it-or-ding it at that point,” Heileman said.
As for Bailey’s second-straight podium finish in as many starts, he was obviously not as pleased this time as he was in Victory Lane the week prior. However, he’s a great sport and realizes a silver medal is just a result of the stiff competition.
“I just made a couple mistakes there at the end,” Bailey said. “When you’re racing people with this high-caliber field, you can’t really make that big of a mistake.
“I jumped the cushion a couple laps in-a-row and couldn’t really get momentum off of [Turn] 2. I knew I was faster in 3 and 4, I just couldn’t really get through 1 and 2 for the last 10 laps.”
An unsung hero of the race was Mt. Airy, NC’s Kendal Tucker, who had a mostly quiet night aboard his Swindell SpeedLab eSports #00. He’s now amassed four-straight podium finishes in as many starts and will retain his points lead heading into Week 5 of Tour competition next Wednesday night, Dec. 30, with the UMP Modifieds presented by Summit Racing Equipment.
“We were right there at the end. We finally figured out how to run some fast laps there towards the end. I know the two leaders had a little contact that helped us get a little closer there. Who knows, maybe if it was 35 or 40 laps, we would’ve had something for them,” Tucker said.
After all he’d been through, Bergeron still was able to make it back up to fourth when the checkered was thrown, which serves as another solid points night for Team ABR.
KOKOMO, IN – Even in the virtual world, there’s a reason they call it Indiana’s Baddest Bullring.
A perfectly timed slide job right after the race’s only restart was all it took for recent World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model iRacing World Championship winner Hayden Cardwell to score his first-ever victory in the Hoosier Racing Tire DIRTcar eSports 360 Sprint Car Showdown at Kokomo Speedway, besting his teammates David Heileman and Dylan Houser in a final seven-lap shootout for the $300 top prize.
“Luckily, we still got the 1-2-3… David [Heileman] almost got me there at the end, but it was a wild, wild deal,” Cardwell said. “This is my second start [in DIRTcar eSports]; I hope to be back more. It was a blast.”
And wild it was. Swindell SpeedLab eSports driver Kendal Tucker had taken the lead from polesitter Tyler Schell early on and was swiftly navigating through lapped traffic on the slicked-off quarter mile when a lapped car got loose and spun right in front of him. Tucker instantly piled right into him, sending his #00 flipping through Turns 1-2 and surrendering the lead on lap 25.
The yellow flag was thrown, and Tucker was able to salvage his now-bruised ride, lining up fifth for the restart. But despite his best efforts to reach the head of the field again, Tucker dropped back even further, setting for a 14th-place finish.
Out front for the restart was Heileman, who inherited the lead after a solid run inside the top-five throughout the race. He and the rest of the field hit the gas on the restart, gunning for the win in a seven-lap dash to the finish.
Cardwell lined up to Heileman’s outside and got a great run around the top before diving to the bottom in Turns 3-4 to set up a big slide job to take the lead in the next two corners. Heileman came back with a slider of his own on the next lap, but Cardwell’s top side momentum was just too strong. He stole the lead back and held off his hard-charging teammates in the final corners to secure the victory.
“I had a lot of luck come my way in that race. It helps when you have two of the best in the game and two of your teammates right there in lapped traffic. It helped me see the wreck with Tucker,” Cardwell said.
In the final three laps, Cardwell, Heileman and Houser were parked right on the cushion the entire way around the track with nearly zero margin for error. Cardwell’s #7 scrubbed the outside wall a few times in the closing laps and opened the door for Heileman to try and make a last-ditch effort run down low in the final corner, but he was unsuccessful.
“I actually got a lot more grip off the bottom than I thought in that last corner, and I mashed the throttle,” Heileman said of his last-lap move to the bottom. “I didn’t really think I was gonna be that close. Even if I kinda worked up the throttle right, [Cardwell] still might have nicked me at the line.”
“I was waiting for it, but [Heileman] never threw it. I probably could have protected, but I have a good history of hitting yuke tires, so I wanted to stay away from them as best I could,” Cardwell said.
The DIRTcar eSports action continues in two weeks’ time – Wednesday, July 15. The DIRTcar UMP Modifieds will take to The (virtual) Dirt Track at Charlotte for a $350 top prize, broadcasted LIVE on DIRTVision presented by Drydene.
DIRTcar eSPORTS SHOWDOWN; 360 Sprints at Virtual Kokomo Speedway; July 1, 2020 RESULTS