Houser leads most laps, finishes fifth, Matjoulis rebounds with second podium
Forty laps in Wednesday’s DIRTcar eSports Tour Feature at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. Kendal Tucker only needed one to steal the show.
In one of the most exciting finishes in DIRTcar eSports history, Tucker, the defending Tour champion and Pro Late Model race winner at Charlotte from Season 2, pulled a rabbit out of his hat in the closing laps of Wednesday’s Drydene Pro Late Model Feature and beat Alex Bergeron and Tyler Schell to the line to win his third career Tour Feature.
“That was a wild one right there, to say the least,” Tucker said.
Dylan Houser, of Ocala, FL, led the majority of the race on iRacing’s new dirt tire model – a total of 33 under his belt by race’s end – and maintained the lead as he came to three-to-go with Bergeron and Tucker right on his heels. Tucker, of Mt. Airy, NC, took the most advantage of Houser’s scrubbing of the outside Turn 2 wall by throwing a wicked slide job as the three dove into Turn 3.
He clipped the infield tractor tire, somehow stayed with it, and raced side-by-side with Bergeron for the lead as they crossed for two-to-go. Houser jumped underneath each of them and slid his way back to the lead while Bergeron and Tucker crossed it back underneath him on the backstretch.
Lead in-hand as they took the white flag, Bergeron rolled high coming out of Turn 2. Houser drifted up into him and made contact as Tucker re-entered the picture underneath them both, also banging off Houser as they entered Turn 3. A final slide job from Tucker in Turns 3-4 on them both sealed the deal as he crossed the stripe and collected $250 for the epic victory from the 10th starting spot.
“No matter how far back I start, it definitely makes it a lot harder,” Tucker said. “But with these longer-distance races, it kinda bails you out if you can keep the car clean coming up through the field.”
With all of the insanity between Tucker, Houser and Bergeron in the final three circuits, Tyler Schell and Blake Matjoulis had been on a mission to capitalize. Which, they did, taking advantage of further contact between Houser and Bergeron to grab third and fourth at the line.
Bergeron had also made significant contact with the outside Turn 4 wall coming to the checkers. It was later determined that he scrubbed the wall through the entire corner and was therefore penalized two spots post-race for wall-riding. This awarded Schell and Matjoulis the final two podium spots and a career-best finish for Schell.
The DIRTcar eSports Tour action continues next Wednesday night, April 21, with the Hoosier Racing Tire Big Block Modifieds at Lernerville Speedway. Catch all the action live and FREE on DIRTVision presented by Drydene.
Tucker goes six-for-six in podium finishes, Cardwell backs-up win with runner-up
For the winningest driver on the DIRTcar eSports Tour from Season 1, it hasn’t been an easy road back to Victory Lane. But six races into Season 2, and Alex Bergeron has finally gotten the monkey off his back with a win in the 305 Sprint Car division presented by NOS Energy Drink Wednesday night at the Tulsa Expo Center’s Chili Bowl track.
In short, it was “fighter jets in a gymnasium.” Lapped cars were everywhere. The entire top-five stacked on top of each other at one point battling for the lead. Nothing but 30 laps of near-chaos as these full-size winged Sprint Cars zipped around this virtual quarter-mile bullring, primarily intended for iRacing and real-life Midget competition.
And when all was said and done, Bergeron, of Drummondville, QC, was the one man that stood above the rest, taking the lead from polesitter Hayden Cardwell in a fury of slower traffic and leading the rest of the way for his fourth career DIRTcar eSports Tour victory.
“It got a bit tricky there with the lapped cars, but we knew going into this race that it was going to happen,” Bergeron told announcer Chase Raudman in the DIRTVision post-race interview. “This track is so small and it’s bizarre to see these kinds of cars on this track, but it was fun to race and the competition [level] was high. We’re glad to be on top here tonight.”
Cardwell, of Knoxville, TN, had been leading from the drop of the green when, in digging though the rear of the 20-car field, he and the rest of the top-five cars all came up on a large group of slower traffic as they completed Lap 15. Colt Currie and Jesse Enterkin were battling for position when they made contact right in front of the leaders, forcing Cardwell to take evasive action out of his low groove, which left the door open for Bergeron to slip by underneath.
“I just made a couple mistakes in lapped traffic, and if you leave a hole open here, someone’s gonna push through. That’s what Alex did, and he capitalized,” Cardwell said of the pass for the lead.
However, Cardwell lost more than just the lead in the exchange. With the extremely limited racing room on the track, the two wheel-banged a couple times down the front-stretch, sending Cardwell into a pinball-like bounce off of each of the other top-five cars on his way backwards. When it was all over, Cardwell had gone from the lead to fifth in half a lap.
With a never-say-die attitude, Cardwell immediately got back on his horse and took it to the top-side, regaining three of his lost spots before the final caution flag was displayed with three-to-go.
“I feel like this one kinda got away from us,” Cardwell said. “We wanted to be the first ones to go back-to-back on this tour, but some things just aren’t meant to happen.”
Now with a clear track in front of him, it was all Team ABR #12. Bergeron cruised to the checkers for the $250 victory.
While Cardwell was able to hang on for second, just one week after getting a win with the UMP Modifieds at Fairbury, current Tour points leader Kendal Tucker crossed in third for his sixth-consecutive podium finish. He had one shot at Bergeron before the final yellow was thrown, but more lapped traffic got in his lane and slowed him down, allowing Bergeron to pull away on the top side.
All-in-all, Tucker, of Mt. Airy, NC, has been nothing short of spectacular in Season 2, earning almost $1,000 total in prize money since the start of the Tour one month ago. All he’ll need to do is maintain his consistency over the final two races to secure the points championship.
“It feels pretty good to keep running as consistent as we have been. That’s the sixth top-five and we haven’t finished outside of the top-three, actually, so it’s pretty cool to be that consistent with all these races and all these different types of cars,” Tucker said.
The DIRTcar eSports Tour action continues next Wednesday night, Jan. 13, with Round #7 – Pro Late Models presented by Hoosier Racing Tire at Eldora Speedway. Sign up today at DIRTcar.com/eSports or watch all the action live on DIRTVision!
Californian becomes second repeat winner in eSports history in Drydene Pro Late Model Showdown
LIMA, OH – Four starts in DIRTcar eSports competition for iRacing Pro Dylan Wilson. Two Feature wins and two runner-up finishes to show for it.
And what a unique win it was for the Bakersfield, CA-native, having won on the brand-new simulation update from iRacing that was finalized just hours before the green flag was thrown. A new feature that accounts for the moisture in layers beneath the racing surface rolling to the bottom of the track in banked areas was added to all dirt ovals, including Ohio’s Limaland Motorsports Park – the site of Wednesday’s Drydene DIRTcar eSports Pro Late Model Showdown.
The drivers seemed quite pleased with the new update, but none more than Wilson, who picked up a total of $325 in winnings and contingency for his victory in the 11th DIRTcar eSports event of the season.
At the drop of the green, the 2019 iRacing World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series World Champion Blake Matjoulis grabbed the lead and began to set the pace out front.
However, it was Wilsons’s D1RT Racing #80 using the bottom-middle lane to make the pass for the lead on Lap 3.
“I tried that groove a lane off the bottom above the tires and thought it was actually good, so I went there on the start,” Wilson said. “It seemed to stay good all race. I kept watching the splits and they would grow just a hair, lap-after-lap. I just stayed right where I was and didn’t have to move around much.”
Wilson fought through several groups of lapped traffic but was able to keep the lead as the field found its first caution flag of the night on Lap 19 of the 40-lap Drydene Feature.
Back a bit further in the field was the two-time iRacing World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car World Champion Alex Bergeron battling with fellow iRacing Pros Devon Morgan and Kendal Tucker. They got it sorted out after the restart as Bergeron took second behind Wilson and Tucker chasing Morgan down for third.
Tucker soon switched from the middle groove back to the top side and got a big run on Morgan for third on Lap 32. It took a slide job in Turns 3-4 to get it to work, but Tucker was able to hang on through Wilson’s rebuttal slider the very next corner and take the spot permanently.
Tucker gave a big tip-of-the-hat to the iRacing staff for its newest update – one he feels played a role in his, and everyone else’s, ability to run the bottom and the middle.
“I thought the racetrack was really good,” Tucker said of the simulation update. “Everybody was making the bottom to middle work, it seemed like. I was able to run the top just as fast, and there were definitely two-to-three grooves right there in that track.”
Bergeron came out on top of the mad scramble for second near the midway point of the race and said he truly could feel the difference in the way each of the grooves on the track came in throughout the night.
“With this new update, I feel like this really helped the racing,” Bergeron said. “A lot more lines, a lot more racing for sure. We tried some stuff, tried the outside, and to come away with second place is very, very good.”
Bergeron settled-in behind Wilson by the home stretch, and despite having won three DIRTcar eSports races prior, was satisfied with just a runner-up result Wednesday night.
“If I would have got to Wilson, I would have tried to pass him. But with the lapped cars there, I just wished for a good race and to be able to win it fair,” Bergeron said.
“It’s tough to just go out there and pass somebody like that. We’re all very good, and you need them to make mistakes to be able to pass somebody.”
But in the end, nobody was catching Wilson. With only a few lapped cars still in his path, Wilson cruised across the line for his second career victory with the DIRTcar eSports league.
In the closing laps, Tucker was turning some of the fastest laps of the race. The problem – the leader was a full straight-away ahead. Despite not being able to catch Wilson in the closing laps, Tucker was confident he had the hot rod to do it, had the race been a bit longer distance.
“We were tracking down the leaders pretty quick,” Tucker said. “I just wish it might have been 50 laps. I don’t know if we could have got them, but we definitely would have got there to them at the rate we were going.”
“We just needed a caution right there. We had the speed again, just needed a little luck and it to play out differently.”
Taking the lead from Tyler Jackson in the final laps after a race-long battle with he and Kendal Tucker, Bergeron showed the DIRTVision presented by Drydene audience just how exciting and competitive the DIRTcar eSports league is every week.
“Qualified first, won the Heat Race and won the Feature, so I can’t ask for more,” Bergeron told announcer Chase Raudman in the DIRTVision post-race interview.
Bergeron may have won the war, but he initially did not win the battle of the opening stages, despite leading the first lap.
Jumping to the early race lead was DIRTcar Street Stock guru Tyler Jackson, who had a very impressive run inside the podium throughout the race, mixing it up with the iRacing Pro-license drivers while trying to become the very first non-Pro driver to win a DIRTcar eSports event.
Through the first three quarters of the race, it looked as though Jackson was going to break through and accomplish the feat, leading laps 2-27 of the 30-lap contest.
Bergeron was running third with four laps to go after chasing fellow iRacing Pro Kendal Tucker and leader Jackson for most of the race in traffic. With the race going caution-free, lapped traffic played a big role in the outcome, as a slower car was thrown right in the middle of the leaders’ race with just three circuits remaining.
Going down the backstretch with just five laps remaining, Jackson had committed to the low side of a lapped car heading into Turn 3 while Tucker went to his outside. The slower car bobbled and made contact with Tucker, sending both into the outside wall and opening the door for Bergeron to slip right through the middle for second.
“The lap car was there, Tucker went to the outside, I took the middle and just sent it in there. [Tucker] got shoved out, so I took the spot. I ran the top and just tried to be as fast as possible and get around Tyler [Jackson], and that’s what I did,” Bergeron said of the pass for second.
With Tucker behind him, Bergeron made a beeline for Jackson’s spot out front. Using that high side momentum, the Team ABR-pilot took advantage of another slower car right in Jackson’s middle groove just two laps later and took the lead away as they crossed the line with two-to-go.
Jackson and Tucker came together on the white-flag lap, allowing Tucker to scoot by for second and moving Jackson back to third. Back out front, it was all Bergeron, who crossed the line first on Lap 30 to pick up the $300 victory and the $25 bonus from VP Racing Fuels.
After the checkered, Bergeron commended Jackson and his skills, running out front with he and Tucker as a non-iRacing Pro.
“He was pretty good. I didn’t know who he was, but he was pretty good, for sure. I’m glad that he was able to get up here; it was a fun race,” Bergeron said of Jackson.
Back in second, behind Bergeron for what is now the third time in his DIRTcar eSports career, and fifth runner-up finish overall, Tucker felt the bad luck falling on him again Wednesday night.
“Honestly, just another Kendal Tucker-type of run,” Tucker said after the race. “Always up front, and something just always happens. I was able to catch back up to Tyler [Jackson] right there with about four-to-go, and I was going to make a move on him… I guess the dude who was apologizing was the lapper who slid all the way up the front stretch and pretty much ended all hope for me in winning that race.”
As for the Street Stock prodigy and his impressive run up front, Jackson was just thrilled to even be up front with such great competition, especially in a car class he very rarely is seen in.
“I’m pretty excited to run that well, but it sucks leading all those laps and losing,” Jackson said. “But, [Bergeron and Tucker] are pros for a reason. I don’t really even drive the Sprint Cars much, I just drive Street Stocks and Late Models.”
CONCORD, NC – Make it seven different winners in eight races in the DIRTcar eSports league.
Dylan Wilson earned himself a hard-fought victory in Wednesday night’s DIRTcar eSports Summit Racing Equipment UMP Modified Showdown after battling it out with Alex Bergeron and Dylan Houser in the latter portion of the race to score the big check at The Dirt Track at Charlotte and a new virtual trophy on his shelf.
Wilson led the opening circuits but was quickly tracked down by the race’s Hard Charger, Dylan Houser, who started 14th on the grid and made the pass for the lead just 15 laps in. Houser kept up the momentum while Bergeron began to put the pressure on next, taking the lead for a few laps himself just past the halfway point.
Wilson and Houser later became locked in a dogfight for the lead in the final laps, trading multiple slide jobs in lapped traffic. But in the end, it was Wilson coming out on top, making the final pass on Houser for the lead with 5 laps to go to take the checkers.
The DIRTcar eSports action continues in two weeks’ time with the DIRTcar Street Stock Showdown at USA International Speedway on July 29. Sign up today at DIRTcar.com/eSports, and catch all the action on DIRTVision presented by Drydene.
DIRTcar eSPORTS SHOWDOWN; DIRTcar UMP Modifieds at The Virtual Dirt Track at Charlotte; July 15, 2020 – RESULTS
Tucker bests iRacing Champ Bergeron in VP Racing Fuels Pro Late Model action
ROSSBURG, OH – Finally. After three-straight runner-up finishes, twice behind one of his biggest rivals, Kendal Tucker is a DIRTcar eSports winner.
The Swindell SpeedLab eSports star finished second to fellow iRacing Pro driver Alex Bergeron in two of the last three races and found himself in a similar spot Wednesday night at the virtual Eldora Speedway, staring down the rear spoiler of Bergeron, who had led the first 19 laps of the 50-lap contest.
And after getting beat by Bergeron almost six weeks ago in the DIRTcar Pro Late Model division, Tucker wasn’t about to let it happen again. He made a terrific move to the outside of Bergeron’s ABR #12 on a Lap 20 restart, beat him back to the line and led the rest of the way to collect a big $300 check in the VP Racing Fuels Pro Late Model Showdown.
“We’ve been trying the last three or four times they’ve put these races on to win one, and we’ve been in contention to win them all, just had some bad luck and three second-place finishes to show for it,” Tucker told DIRTcar eSports announcer Hannah Newhouse in the DIRTVision post-race interview. “I’m just glad to finally get one of these wins.”
Coming from fifth on the starting grid, Tucker spent only a short time in the low groove before putting his #00 right on the top side and carefully began picking off spots in the opening laps. A big slide job thrown on Cometic Gasket Quick Time Award winner Evan Seay on Lap 10 moved him into second, about 10 car-lengths behind Bergeron, and Tucker’s pursuit of the lead began.
The race’s first caution was thrown on Lap 17, which re-stacked the field and put Tucker to Bergeron’s outside. Tucker got a great restart and carried his top-side momentum down the backstretch, taking the lead away from Bergeron as the field rounded Turn 4 and passed under the flag stand as another caution was quickly displayed, setting Tucker as the race leader.
This time, Tucker was the one to choose the inside lane for the restart and made the most of it, slamming the door shut on Bergeron’s attempt to drive down even lower as the field barreled into Turn 1. The two traded some paint before the exchange was over, but Tucker made it stick on the top side.
Now just past halfway, Tucker took the lead and ran with it. Making slight work of lapped traffic on the top side with Bergeron right on his tail the entire time, Tucker never once broke his concentration, leading the field all the way back to the finish and fending off Bergeron’s surge in the closing laps.
“He closed in on me with about 10 to go, and I started hitting my marks, being a little smoother and I started pulling away,” Tucker said. “I really didn’t want to give that one away when I saw him closing in on me like that. He was going to have to do everything to get by me.”
Tucker in hot pursuit of the lead (Joe Grabianowski Photo)
Once they were clear of lapped traffic, Tucker and Bergeron were able to break away from the rest of the pack using a very creative line, dive-bombing into the corners then pushing way up to the outside wall on corner exit. In the end, Tucker said it was his smoothness in this line that carried him to victory.
“I was trying to position the car to where it needed to be to catch the moisture off the cushion on both ends because the curb up there was really big and really fast,” Tucker said.
One spot further back found a stumped Alex Bergeron, who ran a great race overall and provided some relentless pressure on Tucker throughout, but was unable to come up with the kryptonite for the leader’s strength in the end.
“The right side of the spoiler was bent and that costs a lot of speed in these cars,” Bergeron said. “It’s tough to get in the race when someone jumps the start like that, so there’s nothing we could have done there. This track was just one-laned, nothing we could have done.”
Alex Bergeron (12) and Evan Seay bring the field to the green flag at Eldora (Joe Grabianowski Photo)
Kevin Dedmon, the DIRTcar eSports Street Stock Showdown winner at Lanier, picked up the DIRTVision Hard Charger award in the VP Racing Fuels Feature after a solid run to complete the podium from eighth on the starting grid. He preferred the bottom lane at the start, and said it began to work for him as the race progressed.
“I was able to make it work a little bit, though, and get up to third by the end of the race, but it was just too little, too late,” Dedmon said. “I would have loved to have seen a caution there with 5 or 10 to go and seen if I could have found some magic at the end.”
The DIRTcar eSports action continues in two weeks when the DIRTcar 360 Sprint Cars tackle virtual Kokomo Speedway on DIRTVision! Drivers can register for this and all future events at DIRTcar.com/eSports.
SARVER, PA – In one of the most incredible battles seen in virtual racing action on DIRTVision presented by Drydene all year, Alex Bergeron became the first repeat winner in DIRTcar eSports competition Wednesday night at virtual Lernerville Speedway.
Bergeron and fellow iRacing pro license driver Kendal Tucker took center stage in the final six laps of the 30-lap DIRTcar 305 Sprint Car contest and engaged in a heated game of cat-and-mouse that ended with big contact between the two, sending Tucker almost completely around as Bergeron drove away for the $300 check and his first DIRTcar eSports victory since his win in the Pro Late Models at virtual Volusia Speedway Park on May 9.
“Tucker got into me a little bit on the front straightaway there, we were very close there. It was a close race, close battle, especially the start with Bryce [Bailey]. Sliders on sliders. But to be able to come out here and win another DIRTcar eSports race is awesome,” Bergeron told DIRTVision host Chase Raudman in the post-race interview.
Every story has two sides, and Tucker saw the contact between the two quite a bit differently than Bergeron.
“I think we had that one won, but I don’t know. I went to cross over under [Bergeron’s] slider, and I don’t know if the world champ can’t hold a line or what, but I was holding my line down below him and he just came right down into me,” Tucker said.
Joe Grabianowski Photo
Tucker had led the race since wrestling the top spot away from Bergeron and third-place Bryce Bailey in a seven-lap side job fest that saw a new leader every other corner. Back-and-forth the three wheelmen traded slide jobs, inside-and-outside, putting on a fantastic show out front. Until Tucker made a superb door-slamming maneuver in Turns 1-2 on Lap 8 to cut Bergeron and Bailey off from any further bids for the lead.
“That was a fun race, for sure,” Bailey said, reflecting back on the ultimate duel for the lead in the early going. “The first 10 laps were just crazy. Whatever happened, happened. But the first 10 laps, that’s what we race for. It was just a blast.”
Tucker’s lead held up until just under 10 laps to go, when Bergeron finally wound-up enough momentum behind the Swindell SpeedLab #00 and threw a big slide job into Turn 3 to take the lead, only to have Tucker cross back underneath to steal it back as they crossed the flag stand. Bergeron tried it again two laps later and this time was successful, but not without some controversial nerf bar banging.
Tucker crossed back underneath Bergeron’s slide job coming out of Turn 4, and space between the two just plain ran out. They bounced off one another, Bergeron off the outside wall, but both kept it rolling into Turns 1-2 where even further contact was made.
Joe Grabianowski Photo
“He went to slide me down there. On the straightaway, instead of keeping his car straight, he just decided to hook a hard left into me. I got my car all squirrely. I went down into Turn 1 the next lap and got into his tail tank and it about spun me out,” Tucker said of his view inside the cockpit.
“I came off of Turn 4 and the car got loose a little bit,” Bergeron said of the incident. “I was able to stay straight, but then [Tucker] came up a little bit. So, it was kind of a racing incident, pretty much. He came up, I came down, and we tangled up. I didn’t expect to stay in the wall like that on the front straightaway, I almost flipped my car there.”
Now with the lead and several lapped cars in between he and Tucker, Bergeron put his ABR #12 machine on cruise control and led the field back around to the checkered flag unchallenged for yet another virtual Sprint Car victory for the two-time World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car iRacing World Champion.
Shortly after the big three-car battle out front for the lead ended, Bailey broke his stride and slipped over the banking in Turns 1-2, losing several spots of track position in the process. But he was able to recover, using the lone caution flag and some smart passing to climb his way back up to a podium finish.
“I just made a mistake on the cushion. I just overdrove it. When those guys found the bottom, I’m not a very good bottom feeder, I just kinda jumped it,” Bailey said.
The DIRTcar eSports action continues in just two weeks’ time – DIRTcar Pro Late Models at virtual Eldora Speedway. Catch all the action on DIRTVision presented by Drydene – the broadcast home of DIRTcar eSports!
DIRTcar eSPORTS HOOSIER RACING TIRE 305 SPRINT CAR SHOWDOWN RESULTS; June 3, 2020 at Lernerville Speedway