Ed. note: Dan Beaver will be rounding up happenings in dirt racing around the country this season for Motorsports Talk in his weekly “From the Cushion.”
Logan Seavey had a week he won’t forget any time soon.
And he might not want to return to real-world racing. On April 4, he won the Saturday Night Thunder iRacing event at a virtual Bristol Motor Speedway. On Monday night, he won his first World of Outlaws Late Model race on a virtual Knoxville Raceway and pocketed $1,000 for the victory. The next night, he was in victory lane again in Sprints — with another $1,000 check in his pocket.
The racing might be virtual, but the money is real.
Seavey had to make a dramatic last-lap pass to win the late model race. But he was matchless in the 35-lap sprint car race. Seavey led flag to flag.
“That track was really, really tricky,” said Seavey in a release. “The top was way too treacherous. I knew my car was really good in the middle. We did a couple of practice races. I was most happy running right through the middle, like we see Donny (Schatz) do so many times around Knoxville. That’s where my car seemed to be happy.”
Brett Michalski and Tony Gualda rounded out the podium.
Christopher Bell finished fourth, and Kevin Swindell was fifth.
Both divisions of the Outlaws are accustomed to running multiple times in a week. And there is no reason for the virtual world to behave any differently. Wednesday night, the Outlaws held a doubleheader with sprints and late models running back-to-back features, which aired live on FS1.
Swindell has found a new outlet for his competitive spirit with iRacing. After leading a couple of laps in the middle of the A Main, he took the lead for good on Lap 28 of 35 and held off Bell in second.
NASCAR star Kyle Larson finished sixth in the race that also marked the debut of Juan Pablo Montoya in a sprint car. Montoya finished 17th.
Southeastern hot shoe Corey “Flash” Gordon climbed behind the wheel of a Scott Bloomquist car and held off Nick Stroupe and Kaeden Cornell for the Late Model portion of the show.
“My heart’s racing, I’m sweating, I’m worn out,” Gordon said after the race. “This iRacing stuff’s no joke.”
Gordon was not without challengers. Weather should not affect a virtual race, but Bobby Pierce lost power at his home just before the feature began. Dramatically, the power grid gasped back to life in time for him to challenge Gordon on the opening laps.
Strong restarts allowed Cornell and Seavey to catch a glimpse of Gordon’s back bumper, but the young racer led flag to flag.
Other notables in the race included Seavey in fifth, Chase Briscoe in sixth, Swindell in in ninth and Larson in 10th.
NASCAR star Austin Dillon lost a lap early because of connectivity issues, but he got back on the lead lap to finish 13th. Bubba Wallace was 16th in late models after finishing 15th in his sprint car.
USAC ran Race 2 of the iRacing Challenge Thursday, April 9, which was broadcast live on FloRacing.com, an OTT platform and partner of the series. The series ran on the virtual edition of Knoxville Raceway.
The USAC Challenge is a combination of real world veterans, iRacing specialists and some who land in between, such as Aiden Purdue.
Purdue races micro sprints in the real world and made his debut in March. He finished one spot out of the final transfer in the Shamrock Classic at Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin in 600 cc micro sprints. In the virtual race, Purdue survived three overtime restarts to win $500 for the race.
In fourth, Seavey was the highest finisher among the big names. He was seeking his fourth iRacing win of the week after scoring victories Saturday night in stock cars at Bristol and then sweeping the Outlaw sprints and late models at Knoxville. Seavey was followed across the finish line by Chris Windom in fifth.
Briscoe (who did win NBC’s eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge this week) finished 10th in this race after spending the first half of the race outside the top 20.
Bell was making his way through the field before a late crash. Gaining 10 positions by Lap 25 of the scheduled 30-lap event, he rolled the dice, and it came up snake eyes. In the closing laps, Bell slid from the bottom to the top, bounced off the wall and was collected by several cars before dropping all the way to 20th.