William Byron began his NASCAR career via iRacing, so it’s probably not a surprise that he’s turning the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series into his own playground. The Hendrick Motorsports driver held off Timmy Hill in overtime to win Sunday’s Toyota Owners 150 at Richmond Raceway, his second PIS victory in a row.
Ryan Preece started on the pole next to Landon Cassill. Cassill, Bobby Labonte, Daniel Suárez, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were not initially locked in and raced their ways in via Last Chance Qualifier or were selected by Fox Sports (Labonte won the LCQ). Unlike previous races, the Toyota Owners 150 forbade resets, which ultimately led to a far cleaner racing product than its predecessors.
Byron quickly moved into second and tailed Preece until the caution on lap 27 after Chris Buescher‘s wheel disconnected from his setup. After pit stops, Preece and Byron remained in the lead.
On lap 32, Ross Chastain and Alex Bowman wrecked on the backstretch, while Bubba Wallace and Clint Bowyer resumed their shenanigans by wrecking each other again in turn three. Wallace and Bowyer cleared the situation via text message.
A lap 40 restart was aborted after Kurt and Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, and Austin Dillon tangled in turn one.
Byron took the lead from Preece on lap 60. Forty laps later, Preece’s day took a turn when he collided with Matt DiBenedetto to bring out a caution. On Twitter, DiBenedetto threw jabs at Preece for the incident, joking to be sent his address to “throw down”; fellow Cup Series driver Michael McDowell answered the call by remarking the two are neighbours.
NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell joined the antics by ordering DiBenedetto to race with a high-downforce package once the season resumes.
The green flag waved on lap 104 with Byron continuing to lead. Another caution came out on lap 115, though Byron elected to stay out. Despite drivers on fresher tyres closing the gap, Byron held the top spot until a caution came out with four laps remaining. At that point, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney, and Bowman all wrecked together, sending Bell airbourne.
The massive carnage sparked overtime as Byron held off Hill for the win. Parker Kligerman finished third, while Cassill beat back a charging Kyle Busch for fourth.
“I wasn’t in a racing family growing up so this was really my avenue to cut my teeth,” Byron said after the race. “I feel like in my generation, it’s pretty normal. Very thankful for what it’s done for me.”