Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell both advanced to Thursday’s championship race of the NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge after winning their heat races at a virtual Lucas Oil Raceway on Tuesday night.
Larson led all 40 laps in the first heat race after starting on the front row. He beat Chase Briscoe and Harrison Burton.
“I was a little surprised by that,” Larson said afterward. “I thought I was going to maybe run a little too fast early. … (Briscoe) must have burned his stuff up.”
Tuesday’s two races were contested by six drivers: Larson, Bell, Briscoe, Denny Hamlin, Justin Allgaier and Burton.
Hamlin finished fourth in the first heat race after he spun from contact with the Turn 1 wall on Lap 23.
Allgaier finished fifth and Christopher Bell was last after Allgaier got loose and turned Bell on the backstretch on the second lap.
Bell led all 40 laps in the second heat race, beating Hamlin after he bounced off the outside wall and turned Bell coming to the checkered flag, wrecking them both.
“Just tried to make it interesting there for the fans,” Bell said after the win.
Heck of a finish! I’d Like to thank the guys at virtual @LFR95 for bringing me a fast @rheemracing Camry!
Looking forward to @MartinsvilleSwy Thursday on @NBCSN #TeamToyota https://t.co/qR4Hhgn66d
— Christopher Bell (@CBellRacing) April 7, 2020
After finishing second, Hamlin received the Peacock Provisional from Steve Letartre, advancing him to Thursday night’s championship race with Larson and Bell.
Burton finished last, five laps down after an accident on Lap 6 where got loose, bounced off the outside wall and slid into the inside wall on the frontstretch.
“It was bound to happen to me eventually there,” Burton said on the driver radio channel after the incident.
Behind the Hamlin and Bell incident, Larson and Briscoe spun in the final turn while racing for third as Allgaier ran behind behind them and Burton was multiple laps down.
Oh no, @HBurtonRacing!@JoeGibbsRacing // @iRacing // #RacingWeekNBCSN pic.twitter.com/OaQA6w1k7n
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) April 7, 2020
The NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge continues at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday on NBCSN. Landon Cassill, Matt DiBenedetto, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Timmy Hill, Ryan Preece and Myatt Snider will race at a virtual Myrtle Beach Speedway.