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.
Evan Seay leads all but two laps en route to third Feature win, Bergeron runner-up in points
After going eight consecutive weeks of notching nothing but wins and runner-up finishes on the DIRTcar eSports Tour, Kendal Tucker is now a two-time DIRTcar eSports Tour champion.
An incredible season for the driver from Mt. Airy, NC – notching three wins, eight top-fives, eight top-tens and all but the first event started.
“It feels good to go back-to-back in this deal,” Tucker said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever done that in a series on iRacing.”
But his podium streak was abruptly ended when some contact from an incident involving Alex Bergeron and Blake Matjoulis on Lap 5 spilled over into his path. Matjoulis and Bergeron came together at the exit of Turn 4, nearly sending Bergeron completely around in front of the field.
His spinning momentum caught the nose of Richard Murtaugh Jr. and then sent him through the Turn 1 grass, back up onto the track and right into the side of Tucker, who collected several other innocent bystanders in a wild flipping sequence in Turns 1-2. Tucker nursed his heavily damaged racecar back to the pits under the yellow but was met with terminal damage upon arrival at his pit stall, forcefully ending his night.
However, coming into the event a secure 75 points ahead of Bergeron in the Tour standings, the championship gold was not lost. Neither was the love between the drivers in the DIRTVision post-race interviews regarding the incident.
“Not much of a surprise coming from the 12 car,” Tucker said. “He has no regard for people around him on the track, it seems like. Goes into the infield when he had some bad luck and comes up in front of everybody else trying to compete for position on the track.”
Bergeron repaired his car, restarted from the rear of the field and went on an incredible passing spree over the next 45 circuits, crossing the stripe third by the drop of the checkered.
“We were definitely the fastest driver out here tonight,” Bergeron said. “It’s just sad that we get wrecked intentionally every week… We did everything we could and went from nearly dead last to up to the front.”
In the end, two spots ahead of Bergeron was the one true dominant force of the race – Evan Seay. The Chesnee, SC-driver led almost all 50 laps of the Bicknell Racing Products Big Block Modified Feature at The Dirt Track at Charlotte and scored his third $250 check of Season 3.
“It’s difficult to win these races with them being fixed [setup],” Seay said. “You’ve gotta figure out what line to run and be better at that line than everybody else.”
While Tucker held the virtual championship trophy high in Victory Lane at the end of the night, he was only credited with a 23rd-place finish, much to his disappointment.
“I definitely thought we could have competed for another win,” Tucker said. “It’s probably one of my favorite tracks on here, so for the night to end pretty early, it definitely stings a little bit.”
Points difference now at 75, Tucker will clinch championship next week at Charlotte
He’s a multi-time World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Series Sprint Car iRacing World champion, and now the winner of the first-ever DIRTcar 358 Modified race contested on the DIRTcar eSports Tour.
Alex Bergeron showed an impressive display of resiliency Wednesday night at USA International Speedway, holding off defending Tour champion Kendal Tucker for over half the race to pick up his first Tour victory of the season with the VP Racing Fuels 358 Modifieds.
“We did what we had to do – protect the line there in [Turns] 3-4 and got the win. Pretty happy about this,” Bergeron said.
This win comes as a bit of redemption for the Team ABR leader after a costly penalty nixed his win in the 360 Sprint Car race last week, handing the victory over to Tucker. But this week was a different story – both drivers battled hard, but clean, and put on a show for the DIRTVision presented by Drydene audience.
While Richard Murtaugh Jr. led the field around the big 3/4-mile for the first 18 circuits, Bergeron was forced to wrestle the lead away from him in a big slide job-fest that lasted several laps and involved most of the top-five.
Once Bergeron grabbed the lead, his competition was in trouble. Tucker was his biggest thorn-in-the-side through the rest of the race, clinging right to his rear bumper, just waiting for a mistake to be made by the leader.
But a mistake never showed from the ABR #12. Bergeron led the final 22 laps to pick up his first $250 check of the season and first since January 6 of Season 2.
“I always had great restarts, and made the most out of it,” Bergeron said. “We just had to stay really patient and try not to make any mistakes out front – it’s always easy to make mistakes when you’re leading.”
Tucker crossed the stripe in second, extending his streak of top-two finishes to a whopping eight in his eight starts this season. Now sitting an even 75 points ahead of Bergeron in the standings, Tucker will hoist his second consecutive DIRTcar eSports Tour trophy next week after the Big Block Modifieds wrap up the season in the 10th and final race of Season 3 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
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.
Make it six weeks in-a-row that Kendal Tucker has finished no worse than second aboard the DIRTcar eSports Tour.
The defending Tour champion bagged his second Feature win of Season 3 Wednesday night with the Hoosier Racing Tire Big Block Modifieds in impressive fashion, winning a very close battle with Blake Matjoulis, of Ashville, NY, after a restart to grab the lead for good and pocket another $250 check.
In short, Tucker had a perfect night – setting quick time in Qualifying, winning his Heat Race and eventually the 50-lap Feature from the pole with a hard-charging cast of virtual racers behind him.
Tucker, of Mt. Airy, NC, led Lap 1 but gave it up on the next circuit to outside polesitter Matjoulis. He and his 127 Industries machine fended off his rivals out front for the next 26 laps before the caution flag was displayed, resetting the field.
The green dropped once again and Tucker got a great run on the top side to challenge Matjoulis for the lead. Using that high-side momentum out of Turn 2, Tucker pulled ahead of Matjoulis as they slid into Turn 3 and took the line away to seal the spot.
“Once we got a couple of restarts in, I started being pretty aggressive and wanted to make some moves,” Tucker said. “That last restart there – we got a really good start on [Matjoulis] and was able to wheel around the top in [Turns] 1 and 2 on him.”
From there on out, it was all Tucker and his #00 Swindell SpeedLab entry. He had opened a two-second advantage over the rest of the field by the time he crossed the finish line, fully displaying his fixed-setup prowess on iRacing.
It comes in as another great points night for Tucker, as he extends his advantage over runner-up Tyler Schell, despite having entered one less race than each of his closest competitors. Still, he seeks his second Tour championship as Season 3 begins to wind down to the final three races.
“I definitely didn’t think we had a shot at the points this season at all. Luckily, these six races we’ve ran so far, we’ve been able to have some pretty good speed in all the different cars we’ve ran so far,” Tucker said.
The DIRTcar eSports Tour is back in action with the NOS Energy Drink 360 Sprint Cars at Kokomo Speedway next Wednesday night for Round #8 of Season 3. Catch all the action live on DIRTVision presented by Drydene.
Tucker bags third runner-up finish and points lead, Matjoulis back-to-back podiums
Until Wednesday night, he hadn’t made a start with the DIRTcar eSports Tour since the final race of Season 2 in January. Turns out, Hayden Cardwell didn’t even need it to take down an entire field of iRacing’s best with the Big Block Modifieds.
Coming from eighth on the starting grid, Cardwell advanced his #07 seven positions in the first 15 laps around Lernerville Speedway to get his first taste at the lead, using the very bottom lane and sneaking underneath his opponents to get the spots.
“There was a lot of grip on the bottom early on,” Cardwell told Chase Raudman in the DIRTVision post-race interview. “If you could get down there and shoot off [Turns] 1 and 2, it was so much better than the top.”
Cardwell, the defending World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model iRacing World Champion from Knoxville, TN, made the pass for the lead on the Tour’s own defending champion Kendal Tucker with his left-side tires touching the grass as he slid through the corners.
“I got to second and then the bottom started to go away in [Turns] 3 and 4,” Cardwell said. “Kendal moved up, so I just tried to stay down there. By the time I got to the lead, the bottom was about gone, but all it took was him to get off the bottom in 3 and 4.”
Once Cardwell got to the lead, it was game over. He was followed in hot pursuit by Tucker, of Mt. Airy, NC, and Blake Matjoulis for the last several laps, which included a green-white-checkered restart. But in the end, they were unable to get close enough to try and make a pass, leaving Cardwell with the win and the $250 top prize after 50 laps with the Big Blocks presented by Hoosier Racing Tire.
“I kinda surprised myself because I haven’t really been in competition on here, probably since the [iRacing] Pro Series in Sprint Cars. It feels good to come out here after not being on here in a while and come out on top,” he said.
Tucker brought home yet another runner-up spot in only his fourth week of action on the Tour. With three second-place finishes and one win, he now has the points lead heading into one of the most unique car-track combos of the season next Tuesday: Dirt Midgets at Lanier National Speedway.
Matjoulis, the 127 Industries captain from Ashville, NY, followed-up his third-place run last week with another in Week 5. A solid climb from sixth on the starting grid saw him use the top side to his advantage as he finally reached the podium with less than 10 laps left on the board. The finish will bode well for him in the points standings as he chases his first Tour trophy.
The DIRTcar eSports Tour action continues next Tuesday night, April 27, with a featured presentation of NOS Energy Drink Dirt Midgets and their Tour debut at Lanier National Speedway.
Check out the entire race broadcast livestream for FREE on DIRTVision presented by Drydene or on the DIRTcar Facebook page at 7:50pm ET.
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.