IT’S ALL GRAVY: Matjoulis Tops Tour at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, Rafferty Picks Up First Career DIRTcar eSports Feature Victory

CONCORD, NC – Birds are thawing, pies are cooling, and DIRTcar eSports season four, round three is in the record books with Blake Matjoulis and Bobby Rafferty cleaning their plates first. 

Blake Matjoulis won $250 in the 40-lap DIRTcar eSports Tour Feature at The Dirt Track at Charlotte driving the iRacing Drydene Pro Late Model this time around. The win should be a significant net gain in the points standings. 

Matjoulis became the third different winner in the first three DIRTcar eSports Tour Features so far this season. He came into the night tied for sixth in points with a pair of Dylans; Yeager and Houser. 

In Chevy Performance DIRTcar Street Stock competition, Bobby Rafferty was king. After tangling in the Heat Race and sorting it out, Rafferty and Bailey Hipp put on a 25-lap DIRTcar Street Stock barn burner at the virtual Limaland Motorsports Park. 

Rafferty topped the duel for the $100 prize on the last lap. It was his first career DIRTcar eSports Feature win.

Pro Late Models presented by Drydene 

It wasn’t quite a Thanksgiving turkey shoot for Blake Matjoulis but once he was out in front, the driver of the Swindell Speedlab #127 held his line and kept the competition in his Hoosier Racing Tire tracks for 40 laps. Close behind were Logan Rumsey, Kendal Tucker, and Dylan Yeager who battled tooth and nail all race for the final two podium positions. 

Matjoulis couldn’t have started his Thanksgiving festivities any better. 

“It was definitely a good run,” Matjoulis said. “We had that middle rolling. I don’t think we ever got off the middle/bottom. I took the lead, put down some consistent laps, never made any mistakes, and it paid off. We ended up pulling away there once we got 10 laps into a run. It felt really good there for a fixed setup.”

Forty-nine Drydene Pro Late Models attempted to make the 23-car field and it was stacked. The field was so good that Matjoulis never caught lapped traffic over the course of a 30+ lap green flag period. 

“Usually you have some lapped traffic 15-20 laps into a run,” Matjoulis noted. “It was pretty odd not having any lapped traffic. But it was a good thing for me.”

The top side seemed to dominate qualifying and Heat Races but the winner worked the low line. 

“I thought the bottom would have stayed along for a little longer but it seemed to fade around halfway,” Matjoulis said. “We just road the middle there. It would have been interesting to see some lapped traffic to see if they caught up but either way, I think we would have been alright.”

Logan Rumsey took home $175 for second place. His night was set up for success in the Heat Race when two heavyweights exchanged blows in front of him knocking themselves out of the top two spots. 

“I didn’t expect much tonight,” Rumsey said. “I got lucky in the Heat Race. Alex [Bergeron] and Hayden [Cardwell] got together so I won the Heat.”

Drivers were constantly watching the changing Limaland surface. 

“I wasn’t going to run the top in the Feature,” Rumsey noted. “I was just going to roll the middle to stay out of trouble. It worked out. Blake [Matjoulis] is so good at these slick tracks. Yeager was all over me. I’m pretty sure I was in the way but I’ll take it.”

Third place Kendel Tucker nabbed the final podium position from Dylan Yeager off the final corner of the race. Tucker wasn’t satisfied and knows he needs to improve overall. 

“It was a really good run in the Feature,” Yeager said. “I gotta get my qualifying program together. It was terrible. Not sure what I need to do to figure out. It’s tough starting this far back every race I am in.” 

FEATURE (40 laps) 1. 127-Blake Matjoulis [3]; 2. 41-Logan Rumsey [4]; 3. 0-Kendal Tucker [8]; 4. 48-Dylan Yeager [2]; 5. 9-Tanner Tomasi [5]; 6. 27-Josh Thoma [6]; 7. 33-Evan Seay [18]; 8. 8-Austin Hunter7 [11]; 9. 12-Alex A Bergeron [9]; 10. 22-Mason Clark [10]; 11. 97-Tyler Kinsey [14]; 12. 85-Tyler Schell [20]; 13. 36-Ethan C Toedter [15]; 14. 45-Hagen Sorensen [16]; 15. 35-Nick Cooper [22]; 16. 72-Mike Augustine [13]; 17. 331-Dustin Hall3 [21]; 18. 157-Drew Hopkins [7]; 19. 7-Hayden Cardwell [17]; 20. 21-Lyndon Whitfill [12]; 21. 4-Brandon Stuhler [19]; 22. 8-Blair Kraus [23]; 23. 28-Mason Lobb [1]

DIRTcar Street Stocks presented by Chevy Performance 

Former real-world racer and Orange County Fair Speedway fan Bobby Rafferty picked up his first career DIRTcar eSports Feature win after 25 hardscrabble laps around Limaland. Forty DIRTcar Street Stocks presented by Chevy Performance took time in qualifying to make the 24-car field. 

The best of the best in dirt track iRacing were on hand and Rafferty came out on top with a last-lap pass after starting from the 12th position. 

“It’s been a long time coming,” Rafferty said. “We’ve been strong with you guys in past races but haven’t had the luck fall our way. I am literally shaking after that race. Forget the $100 or anything. This is an official DIRTcar race win. Being a guy from the northeast that lives five minutes from Orange County Fair Speedway, this one means a lot.”

The tight confines of Limaland and its notoriously slick surface on iRacing made for a challenging race track for the competitors. Multiple cautions kept the field bunched up. 

“It was a patience game,” Rafferty noted. “Myself, Brett [Rowles], and Bailey [Hipp] all got together in the Heat. I had a discussion with Bailey and to his credit, he manned up and apologized. He said it was on him and I said we were good. You know I race clean. I know you race clean. Let’s go put on a show. I think that’s exactly what we did. I hope everyone enjoyed the show we were able to put on for them.”

With a last-lap, lights out pass, Rafferty and the Street Stockers put on one heck of a show. 

Feature (25 laps) 1. 717-Bobby Rafferty [12]; 2. 28-Bailey Hipp [7]; 3. 71-Daniel Stiffler [5]; 4. 17-Brett Rowles [17]; 5. 60-Kyle Householder [11]; 6. 57-Jim Reavis [18]; 7. 115-Eric Tupper [19]; 8. 5-Isaac Salas [1]; 9. 42-Matt Walter [20]; 10. 68-Ronald Pyles [14]; 11. 117-Preston Oberle2 [6]; 12. 26-Sean Stevens [10]; 13. 83-Brian Taft [16]; 14. 44-Chad Marshall [21]; 15. 93-Steve Miskolczi [3]; 16. 822-Tyler Jackson3 [4]; 17. 24-John Quill [22]; 18. 21-Charles C Barnes [13]; 19. 23-Zachary Milano [15]; 20. 30-Stevin Goldner [8]; 21. 76-Robert Palmer8 [24]; 22. 58-Jason Welsh [9]; 23. 91-Blade Kearns [23]; 24. 26-Sage Luther [2]

 

NEXT UP: DIRTcar eSports season four is off next week but returns with a special non-points race featuring the wingless 360 sprint cars in the Night Before the Fake 500. Sign up with iRacing and join the fun or watch it all live on DIRTVision on Wednesday, December 8. 

SEAY NO EVIL: Evan Seay and Tyler Jackson are DIRTcar eSports Winners in Week Two Action

CONCORD, NC – The cream of the DIRTcar eSports crop rose to the top once again in another thrilling Wednesday night of iRacing dirt track action. Evan Seay fended off Blake Matjoulis to win his first Tour race of 2021 while Tyler Jackson won again in the Chevy Performance Street Stock. 

The points tightened up at the top of the Tour after 40-laps of hard-fought Summit Racing Equipment UMP Modified Feature racing with the top 5 shuffling up. Meanwhile, Tyler Jackson continued to be the man to beat in the full-fendered Street Stocks adding win number two to his 2021 season total. 

Summit Racing Equipment UMP Modifieds

Evan Seay, from Chesnee, SC, traded slide jobs with fellow DIRTcar eSports partner Blake Matjoulis for the Feature win in the Summit Racing Equipment UMP Modified Tour stop at Fairbury Speedway. Seay survived Matjoulis’s challenges plus several late-race restarts for the big win live on DIRTVision presented by Drydene. 

Seay has found success behind the wheel of the UMP Modifieds over the last few seasons on the Tour and looks forward to seeing them on the schedule. 

“We won Bristol last season and Kokomo the year before in one of these UMP Modifieds,” Seay said. “When it gets slick, it suits my driving style just keeping them straight and not making any mistakes. With these open front tires it’s easy to get into the wall. Getting into other cars on the track can definitely mess you up. We kept it smooth tonight controlling the restarts.”

The Summit Racing Equipment UMP Modifieds are one of the most challenging and fun dirt cars on the iRacing simulator, especially on a slick bullring like Fairbury. 

“It is easy to overdrive these cars on a track that slick,” Seay noted. “Not making any mistakes was the key tonight. If I didn’t make any mistakes, I felt like it was hard for anyone to get up there and try anything. Any time you throw a slide job on this slick of a track you kill all momentum so I knew to just watch out for those sliders and stay out of the wall.”

Seay’s teammate Blake Matjoulis finished close behind in second. 

“I had the bottom rolling in one and two early,” Matjoulis said. “I got up to second there and we weren’t as good as Evan [Seay] on the top. The bottom kind of went away. My only shot was getting even with him off of two and sliding him into three. The bottom just seemed to go away there in the end. Overall it was a good run and a good race.”

Seay and Matjoulis went head-to-head for several late-race restarts. 

“He got a gap on us on those restarts,” Matjoulis noted. “We just didn’t get the restarts now. But going one and two for our team is as good as it gets for us.”

Third place runner Alex Bergeron, coming off a second-place effort in the iRacing World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, found himself on the DIRTcar eSports podium.

“We had a good night,” Bergeron said. “Qualifying wasn’t too good for us but we gained a few spots in the Heat Race. Started the Feature in eighth and made our way up to the front. On those types of tracks, it goes to the top early and it’s tough to pass.”

NEXT UP: The Tour takes on The Dirt Track at Charlotte in the DIRTcar eSports Drydene Pro Late Models next Wednesday, November 24. Catch all the action on DIRTVision presented by Drydene or join in for yourself with on iRacing.

FEATURE: 1. 33-Evan Seay [1]; 2. 127-Blake Matjoulis [5]; 3. 12-Alex A Bergeron [8]; 4. 41-Logan Rumsey [3]; 5. 9-Tanner Tomasi [2]; 6. 8-Austin Hunter7 [11]; 7. 2-Dylan R. Houser [14]; 8. 35-Nick Cooper [4]; 9. 4-Brandon Stuhler [7]; 10. 28-Ricky LaDuke [10]; 11. 331-Dustin Hall3 [16]; 12. 144-Mavrick Davidson [19]; 13. 0-Damian Kiefer [18]; 14. 48-Dylan Yeager [6]; 15. 9-Brad Almond [21]; 16. 96-Gunnar G Swanchara [13]; 17. 7-Cole Rhodes [17]; 18. 77-Blaise Baker [22]; 19. 2-Chance Carr [12]; 20. 14-Chris M Olson [24]; 21. 22-Travis Kumpf [23]; 22. 26-Sage Luther [15]; 23. 30-Stevin Goldner [9]; 24. 74-Loic Bernier [20]

Chevy Performance DIRTcar Street Stocks 

Tyler Jackson makes it two-for-two in DIRTcar eSports Chevy Performance Street Stock Features in 2021. It’s hard to deny the dominance of Jackson as he has not lost a Heat Race or a Feature yet so far this season. He’s also been fast in qualifying with a third and second overall fastest time in the first two races. 

There’s no surprise that Jackson has come out of the box fast but the early wins came as a surprise to the defending DIRTcar eSports champion. 

“These are my two worst tracks on the circuit,” Jackson said. “I don’t know if I got better from last year or I am getting lucky. I’m not sure.”

Jackson followed pole-sitter Charles Barnes until the halfway point when the race winner knew it was go-time.

“When I was following him [Barnes] I think I showed him the apron line so he chopped the corner really hard there I knew he was going to stay down there and make his car really wide,” Jackson said. “I knew my only shot was to run that second groove.”

The racing was ferocious throughout the field and Jackson was glad to have stayed out in front of the incidents. 

“Happy that we were able to come out with the win,” Jackson noted. “I was happy running second tonight but when you get the opportunity you gotta go for the win. Charles ran me clean.”

NEXT UP: The big bad DIRTcar eSports Chevy Performance Street Stocks are set to battle next on Wednesday, November 24 at the virtual Limaland Motorsports Park live on DIRTvision presented by Drydene. 

FEATURE: 1. 822-Tyler Jackson [2]; 2. 21-Charles C Barnes [1]; 3. 115-Eric Tupper [4]; 4. 2-Clifford Bellomy [10]; 5. 60-Kyle Householder [3]; 6. 93-Zane Yost [7]; 7. 71-Daniel Stiffler [5]; 8. 26-Sage Luther [8]; 9. 57-Jim Reavis [13]; 10. 68-Ronald Pyles [11]; 11. 29-Richie Yost [24]; 12. 17-Brett Rowles [18]; 13. 5-Isaac Salas [16]; 14. 30-Stevin Goldner [17]; 15. 14-Jake Foradori [14]; 16. 96-Ricky LaDuke [6]; 17. 79-Noah Blankenship [12]; 18. 97-Butch Baker [19]; 19. 83-Brian Taft [21]; 20. 99-Mitch Erickson3 [9]; 21. 84-Mike Watt5 [20]; 22. 117-Preston Oberle2 [15]; 23. 76-Robert Palmer8 [23]; 24. 46-Jonathan Nause [22]

PHOTOS: Hank Silver

RUN IT BACK: Seay Wins Feature, Tucker Wins Season 2 Tour Championship with Big-Blocks at Lernerville

Eight consecutive top-fives for Tucker crown him Tour’s first-ever points champ while Seay starts, ends series with Victory Lane trip

Eight top-five finishes in eight weeks of racing. Now there’s a statistic worthy of a championship.

That’s exactly what iRacing Pro driver Kendal Tucker ended up with after the checkered fell in Wednesday night’s VP Racing Fuels Big-Block Modified Feature event at Lernerville Speedway. For his hard-fought efforts aboard the DIRTcar eSports Tour of Season 2, he now brings the first ever custom-made DIRTcar eSports Tour trophy home to his sim rig in Mt. Airy, NC.

Crossing the stripe right in front of him was the Feature winner, Evan Seay, who capped off his Season 2 campaign the same way he started it – in Victory Lane after leading green-to-checkered in the 50-lap contest.

“It’s definitely pretty cool to come out here and pick up the final win of the season,” Seay told announcer Chase Raudman in the DIRTVision post-race interview. “It’s a great cap to the second season of DIRTcar eSports.”

Over eight weeks of competition, Tucker never finished outside of the top-five. Not once. His worst finish came in Race #7, Pro Late Models at Eldora, where he placed fourth. Wednesday night marked his fourth runner-up finish of the season, just a few car-lengths back from Seay at the checkers.

“Season 2, it honestly couldn’t have gone any better, besides getting couple more wins,” Tucker said. “The ultimate goal at the end of the year, once we heard about this deal [DIRTcar eSports] was putting on, was just to be consistent.”

Tucker’s DIRTcar eSports Tour championship trophy

Seay led the points standings after Season 2’s opening round before Tucker took it over soon after his win with the Pro Late Models at The Dirt Track at Charlotte on December 9. He and Tucker kept it close at the top with their solid night-in and night-out finishes, but Seay sat out the fifth and sixth races on the Tour due to other non-sim commitments, forcing him to retire his horse in the points race.

“Congrats to Kendal [Tucker] on the championship. We had to miss a couple races, but I think we would have been pretty close in the points if I’d have been able to do those couple that we missed,” Seay said.

Regardless, Seay made up for it in the end by leading all 50 laps of Wednesday night’s Feature – his first-ever venture out with the Big-Blocks at Lernerville, which made it all that much more impressive.

“Honestly, I didn’t even know how this night was going to go. I hadn’t run this track with the Big-Blocks yet, so I was kinda winging everything,” he said.

Seay went largely unchallenged for the lead during most of the race. Except on the final lap, where Tucker dove low hard in Turn 1 and pulled a big slide job on the #33. But it didn’t stick, and Seay was easily able to cross back underneath him and take the lead back down the backstretch. Seay held strong in Turn 4 and brought it back home, collecting $250 for the Feature win as the only Tour driver in Season 2 to win more than one main event.

Tucker doing donuts on the front-straightaway after the checkered (Joe Grabianowski Photo)

Overall, both drivers had a terrific season as regulars of the DIRTcar eSports Tour and have plans to chase a points title again in Season 3.

“Hopefully, we’ll be back to defend the title and pick up a couple more wins along the way,” Tucker said.

Feature (50 Laps) – 1. Evan Seay, 2. Kendal Tucker, 3. Logan Rumsey, 4. Richard Murtaugh Jr, 5. Dustin Hall, 6. Chris Hile, 7. Blake Matjoulis, 8. Kevin Dedmon, 9. Jesse Enterkin, 10. Ross Wece, 11. William Racine, 12. Michael Canady, 13. Matt Yorker, 14. Alex Bergeron, 15. Matty Watkins, 16. CJ LaVair, 17. Joe Grabianowski, 18. Joshua Kunstbeck, 19. Chance Carr, 20. Tyler Ducharme, 21. Jonathan Nause, 22. Boddie Parker, 23. Cody Zobrist, 24. Hayden Cardwell

SHARK BITE: Jackson Wins Third Street Stock Feature of Season 2 at Lanier

McMahan, Erickson garner Tyler Bachman Enterprises’ first top-10 finishes in final race

Tyler Jackson has reigned supreme over the Chevy Performance Street Stock League in DIRTcar eSports Season 2.

With his third Feature win in eight weeks of competition Wednesday night at Lanier National Speedway, Jackson remained the only driver on the circuit to win multiple Feature events.

But what was his secret to success at Lanier?

“I finally put a Qualifying effort together, and that makes a huge difference in these Street Stocks,” Jackson told announcer Rick Eshelman in the DIRTVision post-race interview. “They’re just so slow and heavy; if you bury yourself in Qualifying, it’s really hard to pass.”

While the League does not tally points throughout the season and declare an eventual champion, Jackson may as well have been the informal “champion” with his performances throughout the season, which never saw him finish outside of the top-10 one time in seven starts.

Another strong driver who competed mostly in the latter half of the League schedule was Paul Visage, who collected his third top-10 of the season Wednesday night after chasing Jackson down for the better part of the race.

“I got down there and hung the left sides in the moisture there, but you couldn’t really pass. You could get a good enough run to get up beside [Jackson], but not get by cleanly, so it was a lot of throttle control to really get around that place,” Visage said.

TBE entrants Nick Graziano (left) and Jaxon Steele (right) (Joe Grabianowski Photo)

While they had several entries over the course of the eight-race schedule, the Tyler Bachman Enterprises (TBE) team, headquartered in scenic Morgantown, WV, was unable to muster a top-10 finish through the first seven events of the season.

That all changed Wednesday night with newcomers Brayden McMahan and Mitch Erickson posting seventh and tenth-place finishes, respectively. The team’s biggest night of the season came with all the firepower the 25-car field could handle, as a grand total of six TBE cars made the Feature, much to the delight of team executives who are currently working on their plans for competition in Season 3.

Feature (30 Laps) – 1. Tyler Jackson, 2. Paul Visage, 3. Preston Dimsdale, 4. Caleb Hudgeons, 5. Steve Miskolczi, 6. Nathan Lemons, 7. Brayden McMahan, 8. Larry Barber Jr, 9. Mark Mitchell, 10. Mitch Erickson, 11. Hank Silver, 12. Tyler Schneider, 13. Sage Luther, 14. Dennis Anderson Jr, 15. Jaxon Steele, 16. Nick Graziano, 17. Mike Watt, 18. Dakota Osborn, 19. Anthony Corini, 20. Blaze Benedict, 21. Robert Palmer; 22. Clifford Bellomy; 23. Brian Brunscheen, 24. Sterling Beard

E-DIRT TO REAL DIRT: Rising iRacing Star Bryce Bailey Goes Real World Racing at Lake View Motor Speedway

CONCORD, NC – Since the inception of sim racing, fans have dreamt of taking their virtual skills and applying them on a real-world race track. Bryce Bailey, from Waverly, NY, has used winnings from iRacing leagues and specials to help put himself on track in a DIRTcar Sportsman Modified. 

Bailey, a rising iRacing talent, won the first DIRTcar eSports race behind the wheel of a Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modified against a field of premier iRacing pros and real-world drivers alike. Now, he is taking his real signature red #2B to Lake View Motor Speedway in South Carolina along with nearly 40 other DIRTcar Sportsman Modified drivers. 

Bailey is not the first and certainly not the last to go from virtual-to-reality racing. In 2008, Nissan created a program to train sim drivers on the Playstation game Gran Turismo with the intention of putting them into real race cars and did so with success. 

In 2021, iRacing leads the world in auto racing simulation. With the introduction of Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds and DIRTcar 358 Modifieds, dirt track drivers and fans can hone their skills on the virtual dirt in the same race cars we race on tracks across the Northeast, Canada, and down through the eastern US. 

“The hand-eye coordination you get from iRacing separates the kids now,” Bailey said. “Kids are coming up so fast. We have so many resources to fall back on. The feel of iRacing may not be exact but we’re still staying sharp. It helps you read tracks too as far as what lines you need to run, especially with Weedsport Speedway on here now. The lines you run on Weedsport are the same you would run in real life.”

In addition to his DIRTcar eSports checkered flag, where he held off some of the best in the business, Bailey won the Empire Super Sprint iRacing Series plus other leagues and high profile money races. Now, he is focused on taking that iRacing success to his DIRTcar Sportsman Modified program, starting with Lake View. 

Last year, Bailey bought a four-cylinder asphalt racer and won at Lake Erie Speedway against a very strong field of Race of Champions drivers. Now he’s ready for the dirt.

“I ran twice in my Sportsman Modified last year, but 2021 will be my true rookie season,” he said. “This race at Lake View coming up is already one of the most prestigious DIRTcar Sportsman races you can run with all the money they are putting up down there in purse and bonuses.”

The South of the Border Showdown marks the first time DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds have raced at Lake View Motor Speedway. Although Bailey is up against the best Sportsman drivers out of the Northeast like Kevin Root, Andrew Buff, Zach Sobotka, Kevin Ridley, Tyler Cocoran, and Alan Fink, they will all see Lake View for the first time starting on Thursday, Jan. 28, with a free-to-the-public practice session. That levels the playing field a degree in terms of experience. 

“There are a ton of top runners down there,” Bailey said. “Anyone that has won in a Sportsman is going like Kevin Root. The goal is to make the show and maybe get a top 15 but if we can keep our nose clean I’ll be happy. I gotta keep my goals realistic. Kevin Root and I have the same sponsor, FX Caprara. He’s already played a role in my career in helping me out. We actually traded iRacing help for some real-life racing help.”

Bailey has big plans for the rest of 2021, too.

“This year’s plan is to run DIRTcar shows,” he said. “We’ll be at Brewerton, Fulton, Weedsport, Can-Am, plus the big shows. We’ll hit up what we can and race as much as possible.” 

Watch Bailey and the stars of the DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds take on Lake View Motor Speedway Thursday-Sunday, January 28-30 live on Speed51.com. 

Turn on DIRTVision tonight, Wednesday, January 27, for free and catch the season 2 DIRTcar eSports finale featuring the Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds at Lernerville plus Street Stocks at Lanier. Racing begins at 7pm(ET) live only on DIRTVision.