When Logan Seavey dove under Robbie Kendall into Turn One with three laps to go, leaving inches between their cars on corner exit, everyone felt it.
The drivers felt it. The thousands of fans watching on DIRTVision felt it.
A hint of normalcy.
In that split second of adrenaline-fueled action, you forgot these cars you’re watching are virtual. You forgot this isn’t a normal World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series race at Volusia Speedway Park. You forgot about being quarantined at home.
You felt the familiar thrill of a traditional World of Outlaws event.
Seavey’s winning move in the inaugural $1,000-to-win NOS Energy Drink World of Outlaws iRacing Invitational was one of several gripping moments in the night that saw World of Outlaws drivers take on NASCAR stars, NHRA champions and more than 50 other drivers.
“It’s pretty cool to see that many people interested in racing,” Seavey said. “Obviously, we’re all sitting at home. All these guys want to race. It’s pretty cool to see all of these Sprint Car drivers, running together, a couple of Late Model guys, stuff like that. It’s cool to do and cool to be a part of.”
The Sutter, CA driver was the class of the field all night around the virtual half-mile speedway. He was the NOS Energy Drink fast qualifier in VP Racing Fuels Qualifying and then went on to win Drydene Heat 1. That placed him on the pole for the 35-lap NOS Energy Drink Feature.
Seavey launched ahead of the 20-car field in his #16 car by about half a second at the start of the Feature. Jamie Ball followed his tire tracks, swiftly moving into second past Chase Johnson. When Ball caught Seavey two laps later, the two made contact, giving Ball the lead. Seavey feel to fourth behind Bill Balog and Robbie Kendall.
Ball led for the next eight laps before he and Balog collided on a restart with 25 laps to go. Their misfortune handed Kendall the lead and helped Seavey get back into the top-two.
Kendall held command of the race for the next 21 laps. Behind him, Seavey struggled to hold of NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Chase Briscoe. The two traded slide jobs and raced wheel to wheel throughout the race, arguing over who should have second. And while they battled, Brian Brown and Brett Michalski lurked close behind, waiting to pounce.
The fourth and final caution of the night came with six laps to go. Kendall’s lead was gone. Briscoe was back on Seavey’s bumper, ready to attack on the restart. With caution laps counting and only three laps to go when the race went green again, Seavey knew he had to do something.
Kendall ran the bottom off Turn Four on the restart, while Seavey stayed high. When they got to Turn One, Seavey threw a Hail Mary slide job underneath Kendall. Tension grew as he slid up closer and closer toward Kendall’s #38 car at the top of the track. The two made slight contact while battling side-by-side off the car, causing Kendall to fall behind.
Seavey took the lead and cruise to the historic win – his “first” World of Outlaws win.
“It was tough,” Seavey said about the racing. “I had some more fuel than those other cars and that slows you down a bit. Chase Briscoe was behind me and he was beating me on every start basically on the top. I knew I had to try to make a move. I figured Robbie would block a little but and he did, but we were good enough to get in front of him. It was a heck of a race from start to finish.”
Kendall feel to fourth after contact with Seavey but survived a melee of tight racing between he, Briscoe, Brown, Michalski and Christopher Bell and fought his way back to second.
“I screwed up,” a defeated Kendall said after the race. “That’s what it all comes down to.”
Michalski rounded out the podium. Austin McCarl finished behind him in fourth and took home the $100 Hard Charger award, charging from 19th to fourth – which happened to be sponsored by his father, Terry McCarl. While he was the hard charger in the Feature, Troy Wagaman, Jr. was the hard charge of the night, racing his way from the E-Main to an eight-place run in the Feature.
NASCAR Cup Series driver Christopher Bell also had a strong run, coming from 12th to fifth. He shared his enthusiasm about the race and wanting to see it continue.
“I hope the fans enjoyed it and that we can make this a weekly deal until we go racing, again,” Bell said. “It was a ton of fun driving car and watching on the racetrack.”
For the drivers, the World of Outlaws iRacing Invitational was a chance to stay sharp. For the fans, it was a chance to see the sport they love in action again. But for everyone it was a hint of normalcy. The chance to feel the usual weekly thrill of a World of Outlaws race.