Sunday, March 26, 2023

Ryan Vargas Captures Victory in Monday Night Racing Rowdy Energy Pro Series iRacing Event at Knoxville

Ryan Vargas took the checkered flag in the No. 23 machine in the Monday Night Racing Rowdy Energy Pro Series Keller Williams Greater Columbus Dirt Derby at Knoxville.

It was a big night for the real-world NASCAR professionals in the Monday Night Racing Rowdy Energy Pro Series event at Knoxville, as NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Ryan Vargas reigned supreme over Kyle Busch and Anthony Alfredo for the race win.

This is Vargas’ first win of the season, which will lock him into the Monday Night Racing Season Four Playoffs.

“Man, I couldn’t be more excited,” Vargas said in the Podium eSports victory interview. “I’ll have to give credit to my buddies Jake Fisher and Leighton Sibille. We ran this series called BFL in the truck series and I have to give a good amount of credit to them I learned a lot and it was fun racing these trucks around here.”

Vargas joins Collin Fern, David Schildhouse, Kyle Busch and Josh Bilicki as winners through the first five events of the season.

For Busch, the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, while he would have liked to win, minimizing contact in the wild closing laps and securing the runner-up finish was a nice way to end the night.

“Final laps is just everyone trying to throw it in there and pull of slide jobs and stuff like that,” Busch said. “So, it was going to be kind of tough to kind of figure out where everyone was going. The point of just not getting hit was the precedent for me of just being down low and seeing if I could make up some time down there.”

Following Vargas, Busch and Alfredo to the finish line were Max Kennon and Collin Fern in fourth and fifth.

Will Rodgers, James Bickford, Parker Kligerman, Stefan Wilson and Boris Cook rounded out the top-10 finishers on Monday night.

While Vargas picked up the victory, it was a tough night to swallow for Gary Sexton, who had the fastest truck throughout the heat races and opening portion of the main event on Monday night.

Sexton led the opening 35 laps of the 65 lap feature, when all of a sudden he was swept up into a crash with lapped traffic. NASCAR Cup Series spotter TJ Majors was spun out and stopped in the middle of turns one and two. In piled Justin Melillo, Devon Henry and Sexton.

As Sexton crashed, Vargas moved to the race lead, where he would stay the remainder of the race.

When the race went back green, Sexton once again went for a ride from the third spot as his truck lost traction with 22 laps to go. Sexton spun into the front of David Schildhouse, which sent both drivers to the rear of the field.

Schildhouse, driving the No. 20 Chevrolet Silverado, would drive an inspiring final 20 laps of the race as he would go from the rear of the field to inside the top-15 three separate times.

Ultimately, Schildhouse would finish 15th after Devon Henry doored Schildhouse and Steve Auffant in a three-wide battle to the finish line.

Following the finish, where Schildhouse, Auffant, Henry and a slew of others went spinning after the contact from Henry, Henry claimed he had been hit into the situation in the final turn.

On his Twitch stream, Schildhouse looked back at the replay and was less than pleased with Henry’s assessment of why he cleaned out the No. 20 truck and Auffant coming to the finish.

“Devon, he gets hit and he’s on the bottom and he’s fine. He drives it to the bottom and then he just drives it off the corner like we aren’t three wide,” Schildhouse said. “I don’t know what reality he was existing in, where he just told me what he did about why he did what he did, but he could have just easily kept that truck on the bottom and not bodied both of us.

“For what? Like, it’s easy to just keep your shit on the bottom. I was doing it all night. I guess he just got excited. I don’t know. I understand shit happens, but don’t feed me a line of horseshit that you were booted on corner entry…”

While there were hurt feelings throughout the field including Sexton and Schildhouse, who seemed like potential race winners, Ryan Vargas was left standing at the end of the night.

Here are the final results for Monday’s Keller Williams Dirt Derby at Knoxville:

  1. Ryan Vargas
  2. Kyle Busch, -0.283 sec.
  3. Anthony Alfredo, -0.289 sec.
  4. Max Kennon, -0.825 sec.
  5. Collin Fern, -1.094 sec.
  6. Will Rodgers, -1.297 sec.
  7. James Bickford, -1.429 sec.
  8. Parker Kligerman, -1.710 sec.
  9. Stefan Wilson, -2.432 sec.
  10. Boris Cook, -2.752 sec.
  11. Devon Henry, -3.804 sec.
  12. Steve Auffant, -4.035 sec.
  13. Steven Ellis, -4.140 sec.
  14. Justin Melillo, -4.158 sec.
  15. David Schildhouse, -4.332 sec.
  16. TJ Majors, -4.391 sec.
  17. Robby Lyons, -4.431 sec.
  18. Zachary Mertes, -4.550 sec.
  19. Rajah Caruth, -4.561 sec.
  20. Matt Stallknecht, -4.564 sec.
  21. Adam Cabot, -5.109 sec.
  22. Brandon Brown, -5.245 sec.
  23. Garrett Miller, -5.455 sec.
  24. Brad Perez, -6.146 sec.
  25. Seth Eggert, -6.467 sec.
  26. Preston Pardus, -4 Laps
  27. Gabe Wood, -4 Laps
  28. Josh Bilicki, -5 Laps
  29. Garrett Smithley, -5 Laps
  30. Gary Sexton, -12 Laps

If you missed the live broadcast of the race, here is the event in it’s full entirety thanks to Podium eSports:

Toby Christie
Toby Christie
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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