For the entirety of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season, Casey Kirwan raced near the front of the pack on equal footing with the rest of the field. Now in the playoffs, one of the series’ most popular drivers admits he has to be mindful of the playoff contenders he is now battling with.
“You definitely are a little bit more careful,” he said after a third-place finish in last week’s playoff opener at Darlington Raceway. “Obviously, I’m still going to try and go past somebody or do everything I can, especially because of the team championship for XSET. We’re fighting really hard to get as many points as we can.
“I do have to be mindful [of the playoff contenders] and I’ll be a little bit more cautious in my decision making to make sure I don’t put me and another playoff driver in a bad spot where we could potentially crash, but yeah, you are definitely still going to go and get every spot you can.”
The XSET driver was one of the first to be left on the outside of the 10-man playoff roster. Kirwan had seven top 10s and one top five finish entering Darlington, but fell short of the playoffs after not finding a win in the regular season.
In the final laps of the race, Kirwan let playoff contender Mitchell DeJong pass him but that was a decision influenced largely by Kirwan’s fuel and tire strategy, which left him without the resources to put up a fight against DeJong, who went on to finish second.
“I ended up letting [Dejong] go just because at the time, he was on some so much fresher tires anyway, and I was pretty tight on fuel,” he said. “I felt like it wasn’t really wise for me to try and race him, I would’ve probably run myself out of fuel, and I think he was going to pass me in two corners anyway.
“I intended on racing him if I was a little bit quicker, better on fuel, but in this situation, I didn’t race him.”
Kirwan’s second place finish combined with teammate Ryan Michael Luza’s finish of fourth for a double top five for XSET. It was a significant points haul for XSET, who vaulted over William Byron eSports and up to third in the team’s championship.