After late-race cautions and crashes plagued the finishes to the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series from Pocono and New Hampshire, some drivers were left frustrated with their competitors. As time runs out to either make the playoffs or remain in the top 20 in points to secure a spot in the series next season, these kinds of incidents could become more common.
While there are a number of factors that contribute to these incidents, McLaren Shadow’s Blake Reynolds sees the lack of respect among select drivers as a leading one.
“Some drivers have respect for some drivers and others don’t. I would say it’s very similar to the truck series racing in real life at Knoxville,” Reynolds said. “Some drivers really don’t respect anyone. I feel like I respect 95% of the field, there are probably two or three where I’m like, ‘I do not care where you finish.’ But, for the most part, I genuinely care about most of the people in the field.
“If they run well, I’m happy for them and if they run bad, I’m like, ‘oh, that sucks, let me send them a message.’ There are some people where they only talk to about five people, and will only talk to those five people. It’s a whole combination of things and I think it was a perfect storm for New Hampshire.”
Reynolds was one of a number of drivers who were caught up in a crash coming to the checkered at New Hampshire. The Houston native was running 19th on the exit of Turn 4 on the final lap and ended the race 30th after crossing the line backward. That result stung even more as Reynolds is one of a number of drivers on the bubble of the top 20 in points.
Along with the battle to make the playoffs, there’s the battle to make it into the top 20, which leaves drivers more eager to fight for positions further down the order.
Ending the season outside of the top 20 would send a driver down to the Road to Pro series, leaving them with their back against the wall and needing to race their way back into the Coca-Cola Series.
“The playoffs are coming up soon, I would maybe attest [the crashes] to that,” Reynolds said. “But there’s also the top 20, and unfortunately, I’m in that fight, I’m 23rd in the points and 20 points behind the cut, and there are only five or six races left. It’s unfortunate, but we have to race like this.”
The nature of New Hampshire also played a factor as drivers were able to use virtually every line on the track – and even the apron if things got desperate late in the running.
‘It’s when we get to the ends of these races and there are so many lanes to run and everyone fills every hole,” Reynolds said.
The final contributing factor is the fact that, unlike in the real world, all of the drivers are racing the same car with the same quality of equipment. The only differences between cars comes down to setup and those differences are hardly ever apparent on the short runs to the checkered flag we have seen in recent races.
They stack ’em up!
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— NASCAR (@NASCAR) July 14, 2021
“We all have the exact same car, unlike real life, but we do have setup differences – but on restarts, we are all the same. It’s not until 20 or 30 laps into a run where you actually see a setup difference,” Reynolds explained. This leaves drivers very close to one another for long periods of time, unlike in the real world where cars tend to spread out more quickly as pace differences are immediately apparent.
The Coca-Cola iRacing Series’ race director, Tyler Hudson, has not issued any harsh penalties for incidents. Hudson has tried to remain positive with the drivers, highlighting the good parts of the race and encouraging the field to finish strong.
The series heads to Watkins Glen on August 3, but before that, it will hold its All-Star race at Nashville Superspeedway in the Next Gen cars on July 27.