After fending off the relentless pressure for the lead behind him the entire race, Evan Seay held off CFM eSports teammate Blake Matjoulis in the final laps to win his eighth career DIRTcar eSports Tour Feature. Former iRacing Late Model World Champion Hayden Cardwell charged from 11th to third, and nearly passed both drivers in the dash for the finish line on the final lap.
With his second victory of Season 4, Seay has now taken the points lead from Alex Bergeron, who has led since the start. Only two races remain on the schedule to settle the battle for a brand-new champion.
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.
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)
Former World of Outlaws iRacing Pro Series champ makes seven winners in seven races
He might have been racing from his house in Ashville, NY, but Blake Matjoulis was right at home at Rossburg, OH’s Eldora Speedway Wednesday night.
The 2019 World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model iRacing World Champion led all 40 laps around The Big E behind the wheel of his Swindell SpeedLab #127 en route to his second career DIRTcar eSports Tour Feature victory presented by Hoosier Racing Tire.
Matjoulis cracked the whip right at the drop of the green, took the lead from outside the front row and made the 24-car field pay, never once letting any of his competition get too far underneath him in attempts to steal the spotlight. More specifically, his three biggest threats in the field – Alex Bergeron, Dylan Houser and Kendal Tucker.
Matjoulis and Bergeron stuck to the bottom in the opening stages of the race while before long, Tucker and Houser began to make the high side work. Those three swapped spots all race long, passing inside and outside and using every lane available on the track. However, this only allowed Matjoulis to ride out front comfortably.
Houser, of Ocala, FL, eventually proved he knew the high side the best and was able to close-off the runner-up spot to his competition just after the halfway point, then sight his sights on the leader. And Matjoulis knew he was coming.
“Houser was definitely good up there,” Matjoulis told DIRTVision announcer Josh Pike in the post-race interview. “He tracked me down a little and I was just able to hold onto the top spot. It would have been hard for him to pass, but he was definitely right there.”
With less than 10-to-go, Houser had caught Matjoulis’ rear deck lid and was gaining a tenth on him each lap. Until he made a critical mistake and scrubbed the Turn 3-4 wall with six laps remaining, breaking his momentum just enough to throw his chance for victory out the window.
Matjoulis held off one final charge from Houser and third-place Evan Seay in the final corners to score his second career Tour victory and first since the second race of Season 1, back in May of 2020.
“Definitely a close race between the top three, no breathing room, no room for mistakes. When you get to these races, it’s all about being consistent. Frankly, we didn’t make any and were able to hold on for a win,” he said.
The DIRTcar eSports Tour action wraps up in just two weeks’ time with the eighth and final race of Season 2 at Lernerville Speedway on Wednesday, January 27, once again featuring the ground-pounding, Earth-shaking, window-rattling Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds! Register today at DIRTcar.com/eSports and watch all the action live on DIRTVision!
North Carolinian scores second career eSports Tour victory, again in Pro Late Models
CONCORD, NC – If there’s one area of iRacing Dirt that Kendal Tucker really excels in on the DIRTcar eSports Tour, it’s surely with the Pro Late Models.
Holding off fellow iRacing Pros Dylan Houser and Evan Seay in the final laps, Tucker, of Mt. Airy, NC, scored his second career DIRTcar eSports Tour victory Wednesday night with the Drydene Pro Late Models at The Dirt Track at Charlotte after leading all but one lap en route to his $250 victory.
His previous Pro Late Model finishes with the Tour are impressive; three starts in three races and three podium finishes with a lone victory. Tucker experienced bad luck several times over the course of the Season 1 schedule, racking up a few “so close” moments that left him hungry for another trip to Victory Lane.
But to do it, he had to defend the top spot from one driver in particular, on a mission to finally put his name in the win column after several starts – Dylan Houser.
Tucker grabbed the lead from polesitter and Cometic Gasket Quick Time Award winner Sheldon Oberle on Lap 2 and rode the high line for the opening laps, until a caution came out with five laps complete. Tucker and his Swindell SpeedLab #00 then chose the bottom lane for the restart, and never strayed from it all race long.
“Probably one of the hardest things to do on here, in my opinion, is to stick that bottom,” Tucker told Tour announcer Chase Raudman after the race on the DIRTVision. “There’s a lot of guys that can go up there and bounce it off the fence, have their right-rear off the wall and pick up some speed. I’m just not one of those guys that can make it work. I’m more of a finesse-type of guy. I like to put the car in the middle-bottom area.”
With a 40-lap distance, the rest of the field behind Tucker had plenty of chances to make up the ground. Houser, of Ocala, FL, applied the pressure all race long from two grooves higher than Tucker, scraping his car right off the wall each lap, but could not reel the leader in. He made one final scramble for the lead on the final lap in Turns 3-4, rim-riding the cushion in search of a quick burst of speed, but came up just one spot short.
“I thought I was going to get [Tucker]; With about five-to-go, I threw everything out the window,” Houser said of his last-lap mentality. “Just started entering on the fence and threw it wide-open. I was closing in on it, just ran out of laps on that one.”
Two lanes to choose from on Charlotte’s dirt surface made for some spectacular inside-outside racing, and Houser chose the more grueling of the two, in search of the momentum to carry him through the turns.
“It was really, really crazy up there,” Houser said. “I wasn’t going to go down there and run the bottom; I’m not one to get down there and run by the yuke tires, so I went up [high] and scraped every bit of paint that was on that wall off.”
Rounding out the podium was inaugural Tour Feature winner Evan Seay. Largely a top-five car for most the race, Seay, of Chesnee, SC, said the stipulation of the fixed car setup makes it challenging to overcome large deficits, and thus he was unable to catch the leaders in the end.
“Kendal, [Dylan] Houser, these guys are all Pro [iRacing license] guys, they’re fast and they don’t make a whole lot of mistakes,” Seay said. “It’s just very difficult to make that much ground up, even though it wasn’t a whole lot. But I’m still happy with third-place; did better than I thought I was going to do.”
The DIRTcar eSports Tour action continues next Wednesday night, Dec. 16, when the Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds make their long-awaited debut on the Tour schedule at Weedsport Speedway. Catch all the action live on DIRTVision, or sign up to compete at DIRTcar.com/eSports.