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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Frustrations Mount Between DiBenedetto and Preece, Smithley and Suarez Following Virtual Richmond Race

Photo Credit: Justin Melillo on Twitter.

Ryan Preece started from the pole of Sunday’s iRacing eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series event at the virtual Richmond Raceway, and he led the opening 59 circuits of the 150 lap (lengthened to 154 laps due to overtime finish) event.

However, things unraveled as he had multiple run-ins with Matt DiBenedetto that ultimately ruined both drivers’ days.

The first incident occurred when Preece dipped low in the turn, when he felt he was clear. However, DiBenedetto was peaking in there.

The two made contact, which sent Preece around.

Preece felt the contact was intentional and DiBenedetto’s fault, so later on Preece sent DiBenedetto’s No. 21 car for a ride.

Then, on lap 113, DiBenedetto was parked when he retaliated against Preece.

Following the race, DiBenedetto and Preece got into a heated confrontation on Twitter, where DiBenedetto threatened to fight Preece.

Preece quipped back that he would gladly give his address to DiBenedetto if the Wood Brothers Racing Driver would show up in his giraffe get-up.

While this scuffle is intense, it wasn’t the only set of hurt feelings on the virtual track on Sunday.

Garrett Smithley, who has been one of the best iRacers in the four events so far, was having a good day, until he was sent for a spin late in the day by Daniel Suarez.

Suarez, who had been disqualified in back-to-back races for rough driving, had competed much more admirably on Sunday at Richmond. But following his latest miscue, Smithley questioned if perhaps Suarez should stick to Mario Kart instead of iRacing.

Smithley would finish a disappointing 17th, while Suarez would come home in 18th.

Will either of these feuds continue next week at virtual Talladega, or even perhaps build onto the real race track when the sport returns from the COVID-19 pandemic? We’ll have to wait and see.

Toby Christie
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.

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