In an event that was a tale of two races, real-world NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitor Corey Heim scored the race win in the Interstate Batteries Monday Night Racing Pro Series Sim Seats 120 at the virtual Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Heim would have to endure a fierce charge from Nick Olsen, who finished second last week. Olsen, would come up just 0.301 sec. shy of the win again this week in another runner-up finish.
This victory is Heim’s first-career win in the series and it came in his Series debut. Heim was excited to win as he doesn’t consider himself an iRacer.
“Feels great,” Heim said of the hard-fought win. “I have heard about this league for a long time and heard a lot of good things about it. It’s kind of been a process to make a start. But you know, I feel like I’m not technically an iRacer per say, I don’t do this a whole lot.”
For Olsen, he was just happy to be battling someone he was comfortable with in the closing laps.
“Yeah, Corey and I work well together in the leagues that we do run,” Olsen explained. “So, there was a bit of comfortability running with him as we were able to kind of work together on those restarts. But that last restart, obviously, the race is on the line. If I had two or three more laps, I genuinely think I could have gotten there.”
However, despite coming up just shy of the victory, Olsen felt second place was kind of like a victory after the drama he had been through during the race. Olsen was involved in an early accident, used his fast repair and lost a lap. But in the closing laps he was there with a shot at the win.
While Olsen overcame obstacles, I don’t think he had anything on third-place finisher David Schildhouse, who was involved in four-or-so incidents in the race.
“It was an eventful night for the Zyloware Chevy Camaro,” Schildhouse stated with a smile. “It seems like a lot of these races for me this year have been pretty eventful. It started with a terrible qualifying effort, I just blew it. I knew starting deep in the field with this combination was not going to be good.”
However, it was Schildhouse’s impeccable crash avoidance on a late-race melee, which ensnarled 10 or more cars, that moved Schildhouse from the back of the pack to inside the top-10.
“The race saver, and I don’t know if y’all saw it or not, I had one of the greatest wreck avoidances I think I’ve ever had in my sim racing career. That was the difference. That gave me the opportunity to line up where we did,” Schildhouse said.
Here is Schildhouse’s incredible accident avoidance:
From there, Schildhouse made his charge through a minefield of damaged cars inside the top-10 to score a podium finish, his second-consecutive third place finish in the MNR Pro Series.
“Got around those slow cars and I guess in this case I was the bat, not the ball,” Schildhouse quipped.
James Bickford had the pole for the race, but jumped the initial start of the race. As Bickford pitted to serve his black flag, Malik Ray moved into the race lead.
Ray looked like he was on his way to a dominating win, as he was the man at the point for the long-sustained green flag period at the beginning of the race.
Then chaos began to ensue with 47 laps to go when Leighton Sibille went around, catching Schildhouse and Gabe Wood in the carnage.
With 38 laps to go, Michael Massie got flipped onto his lid after he was tapped by Rajah Caruth, which sent him into Charli Brown and back into Caruth.
On the ensuing restart, Heim in second sputtered on the restart, which collected Bailey Turner, Schildhouse, Garrett Smithley, Collin Fern, Brandon Brown, Brett Baldeck and a lot more.
With 25 laps to go, the big one erupted. Steve Auffant and DJ Cummings made contact, which sent both cars around. From there, the track was blocked. Schildhouse, Brown, Wood, Gary Sexton and a slew of others piled in. It was a nasty crash, but the wrecking wasn’t over yet.
It was under this caution that Ray opted to hit pit road, which relinquished the lead to Heim. Heim would stay there the remainder of the evening.
Meanwhile, Ray would make contact with Will Rodgers with 19 laps remaining. The contact sent Rodgers crashing into the pit road barrels.
Ultimately, for Ray, the decision to pit for fresh tires, did not pay off as he wound up finishing 14th on the night.
The second big one of the night would fire off with 11 laps to go when James Bickford made contact with Brandon Brown, which sent Brown skidding through the field. Car-after-car-after-car piled in including Brad Perez, Robby Lyons, Ray and more.
But it was Schildhouse, who was able to somehow avoid the carnage to squeak into the top-10 of the lineup.
The race would go back to green with six laps to go. Heim would clear the field for the lead, and after a few laps of battling with Presley Sorah, Nick Olsen would take over second place. Meanwhile, Schildhouse would knife from 10th to third place with two laps to go.
Olsen would try to catch Heim, but it was to no avail as Heim took the victory.
Here are the full race results from the Interstate Batteries Monday Night Racing event at Virtual Charlotte Motor Speedway:
|9||19||94||George Balfanz Jr.||1.935|
|25||16||12||Brandon Brown||1 lap|
|26||37||57||Seth Eggert||1 lap|
|27||3||55||Will Rodgers||2 laps|
|28||12||21||Max Kennon||3 laps|
|29||28||4||Brett Baldeck||3 laps|
|30||27||45||Dakotah Curtis||6 laps|
|31||17||2||robby Lyons||9 laps|
|32||20||07||Ford Martin||9 laps|
|33||32||27||Michael Massie||10 laps|
|34||15||43||Leighton Sibille||10 laps|
|35||1||29||James Bickford||10 laps|
|36||31||58||Charli Brown||11 laps|
|37||11||13||Rajah Caruth||25 laps|