By Justin Melillo
The battle between Evan Seay and Blake Matjoulis for the 2023 iRacing World of Outlaws ButtKicker Late Model Series title added another wrinkle on Monday night with a late race caution in the inaugural race at Port Royal Speedway changing up the entire complexion of the event. Despite a poor qualifying run combined with a loss in his heat, Seay was able to capitalize on the late race restart, stealing the top spot from Matjoulis and Logan Rumsey with five laps to go, scoring his second win of the season, and ultimately extending his point lead over Matjoulis by a single point at night’s end. Rumsey, a heat winner and feature lap leader of 12 laps on Monday, would fall to fourth as Matjoulis and Dylan Wilson rounded out the podium spots.
This week’s action featured a pair of wild heat races alongside two rather tame ones. The quick time of the night went to Nathan Waddell, which put him on the pole for the first heat race. In a shocking turn of events, Seay was only able to put down the 21st fastest time, which meant he would start sixth in Heat 1. Into the first corner, Waddell missed the line and subsequently fell out of a transfer spot, handing the lead to Kendal Tucker. Dylonn Fox moved into second, but by the end of the first eight laps, Seay was able to climb up to third, which meant he would start ninth in the feature. Rumsey then won a calmer Heat 2 and Dylan Yeager won Heat 3.
In the fourth and final heat, Blake Matjoulis was able to scoot away as Talan Willis and Mike Augustine collided with one another behind him into Turn 1, sending Willis spinning up into the path of Loic Bernier and Augustine sliding across the nose of Chase Barbara. As a result, despite decent qualifying times for all three, Augustine, Willis and Bernier would all be relegated to the last chance races.
The first LCQ saw Desmond Buzby get the jump off the flag over Colton Zimmer. Back in fourth, Tristan Ladouceur was making the top line work, eventually passing Zimmer to take the second and final transfer spot, while Waddell would miss the Feature despite his early speed.
In the second, things got mad almost immediately as the front row of Blake Murray and Augustine made contact, allowing Travis StClair to get low, but he had to wait to not pass the leader before the line. This allowed Kaden Honeycutt to take it four-wide entering the first corner, and less than half the field survived the chaos. Murray and Honeycutt were able to get away initially, but Augustine and Logan Harbert also had a shot. On the final lap of the final LCQ, Honeycutt threw a slide in and parked it right in front of Augustine. This allowed Herbert to get in on the action, the trio all hooked together exiting Turn 2. Eventually, Augustine spun and Herbert was slowed, allowing for Murray and Honeycutt to take the final two spots.
Tucker led the field to the green in the feature, but an early caution involving Fox and JD Brown slowed the field quickly and reset the order. Already, Seay had worked his way up to sixth. The next restart, things started to spread out as the field began to take a more pronounced shape. Tucker would lose the lead to Rumsey on Lap 12, and Matjoulis would get by for second on Lap 16. Tucker’s descent would continue for the rest of the race as he eventually would finish 10th.
On Lap 22, Matjoulis got to the inside of Rumsey, and the battle was on for the top spot. Matjoulis looked to be cruising to his third straight victory, but on Lap 38, Rumsey was back and threw a slider for the lead into Turn 3. Matjoulis countered with the crossover to take it back, but the battle was back on for the moment until the caution flew for the final time on Lap 39. Seay was back up to fourth at this point, and the multiple seconds gap that the leaders had vanished in an instant.
When the race restarted, it became a slider battle between Matjoulis and Rumsey. But coming to five laps to go, Seay saw an opportunity and pounced as the two leaders had slowed each other’s progress. Into Turn 1, Seay had taken the point with his own slider. Rumsey would slide for the top spot into Turn 3, but like Matjoulis a few laps earlier, Seay decided to cross back over and the top spot was back in his control. Matjoulis threw in one last shot with four laps to go, but Seay powered off the corner and would drive away to the win.
Through four races, the points gap is only eight between the two multi-time winners and past champions of the series. Tucker, despite his fall off late, still maintains third in the championship while Rumsey now sits fourth with his stellar Port Royal performance.
iRacing World of Outlaws ButtKicker Late Model Series Round 4 results at Port Royal were as follows:
|8||15||31||Robbie Buchanan Jr||50||-3.144||0||18.048||54|
iRacing World of Outlaws ButtKicker Late Model Series points through Round 4 are as follows:
- Evan Seay, 304
- Blake Matjoulis, 296
- Kendal Tucker, 251
- Logan Rumsey, 240
- Barrett Bishop, 235
- James Edens, 220
- Dylan Wilson, 217
- Chase Barbara, 189
- JD Brown, 181
- Dylan Yeager, 176
With Port Royal done and dusted, next up for the iRacing World of Outlaws ButtKicker Late Model Series is a trip to Knoxville for the fifth round of the 2023 season. Tune in live on Monday, August 7, for the show starting at 9PM ET on DirtVision and at twitch.tv/iracing.
For more information on the iRacing World of Outlaws ButtKicker Late Model Series, visit www.iracing.com/woolm. For more information on the World of Outlaws, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit www.iracing.com.