Timmy Hill are MBM Motorsports are now NASCAR race winners. Virtually, anyway.
Hill, one of the sport’s underdogs in real life but one of iRacing.com‘s most successful drivers, took the win in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series‘ O’Reilly Auto Parts 125 at Texas Motor Speedway after holding off a gaggle of other small-time drivers in overtime. It is Hill’s 674th iRacing win.
A whopping sixty-five drivers, which would be the largest entry list for a race since the 2007 Daytona 500 had it been a real event, sought the thirty-five spots available. In addition to Cup Series drivers, names like longtime veteran Greg Biffle were also present.
As thirty-one drivers were already locked in, the final four slots were up for grabs via Last Chance Qualifier, with Xfinity Series drivers Alex Labbé and Anthony Alfredo, Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series rookie and iRacing star Ty Majeski, and three-time PEAK Mexico Series champion Rubén García Jr. claiming the places. Labbé, the 2017 Pinty’s Series champion, had won the qualifying race.
William Byron, who started on the front row in last Sunday’s iRace at Homestead-Miami Speedway, won the pole ahead of race runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr. Majeski and Biffle, the latter racing for Roush Fenway Racing for the first time since the two parted ways in 2016, made up the back end.
In a repeat of events from Homestead, Alex Bowman, who qualified twentieth, pinned his iRacing struggles on his dog.
Byron led the early laps before John Hunter Nemechek, who started third, pulled ahead.
Compared to the Homestead race, Texas saw a cleaner start as the first 27 laps ran green, though some incidents like Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney wrecking together on the backstretch did not produce a caution. On lap 28, Christopher Bell and Michael McDowell made contact on the frontstretch, sending the former spinning through the grass.
Blaney simply remarked on Twitter, “Oops”.
Another caution occurred on lap 39 when Alfredo was turned in turn three while receiving drafting help from Matt DiBenedetto. The two had been running in the top ten.
“Def not his fault he was pushing me square not sure how that even happened,” Alfredo subsequently tweeted.
Homestead winner Denny Hamlin stayed out under the yellow to lead the field to the lap 43 restart, though his strategy eventually backfired as he and others who did not pit began falling. After two laps, Chase Elliott received a push from Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Byron to take the lead.
Nemechek and Ryan Preece moved into the top two by lap 60, while Labbé cracked the top ten. Meanwhile, Earnhardt drove through the tri-oval grass, causing damage to his car.
As the race crossed the 90-lap barrier, green flag stops began. On their stops, Labbé and Nemechek experienced near-misses as they slid and spun; Nemechek also mirrored Blaney’s tweet in his thoughts.
Byron eventually shuffled his way back to first.
With 15 laps remaining, Daniel Suárez spun in turn three for the yellow. Byron and Hill paced the field to the restart on lap 114.
After just one lap, Bowyer wrecked while racing Biffle off turn two, causing the two to spin and taking out others like DiBenedetto, Majeski, and Ty Dillon; DiBenedetto was also sent into the air. In response to Bowyer’s antics, NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell joked to “park the 14”.
Amusingly, Suárez himself would be parked after attempting to wreck Dillon. Although he missed and instead slammed into the inside wall, he was called to the virtual hauler.
Byron and Hill once again comprised the front row for the green flag with five laps to go. A strong restart propelled Byron ahead, while Bobby Labonte spin approaching the start/finish line though with no caution. After a lap, Hill successfully executed a bump and run on Byron to take the lead.
With three laps left, Preece made contact with Parker Kligerman exiting turn four and went through the grass near pit road. Preece was able to save the car, though the yellow was waved to set up overtime.
The scramble in overtime was marked by a field of real-life underdogs as Hill pulled ahead. A last-ditch attempt by Preece on the inside line failed as Hill scored the victory. Tailing the two were Garrett Smithley and Landon Cassill.