For the first time in series history, the eNASCAR IGNITE Series made the switch from Legends cars to the NASCAR Whelen Tour Modified last Thursday with an event at Richmond Raceway. 50 of the top youth racers on the iRacing service has their first crack at an IGNITE playoff race in the ground-pounders, and will have three more events to try to secure a place in the championship finale from Martinsville Speedway.
In the end, it was Parker Retzlaff who capitalized on the opportunity to score the first win of the playoffs. Retzlaff, who made his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East debut earlier this season and will return to action later this month at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, qualified first, took a heat victory, and beat Hunter O. Johnson to the finish line in the main event by .808 seconds.
“I’m excited about my win last week,” said Retzlaff, who led all 40 laps he raced at Richmond. “But it’s a new week, and I’m ready to go at Bristol!”
Richmond shook up the IGNITE standings dramatically, in fact, as only three of the top five drivers in regular season points finished in the top 10 last week. Regular season winner Aaron Mulrooney Jr. was sixth, while Sean Leasure was 10th as the final driver on the lead lap. Dylan Ault was a lap down in 13th, while Cayden Rush took a DNF in 16th place in the 17-car race.
The IGNITE playoff format rewards a mature mix of patience and aggression, the same balance that these drivers will need to strike elsewhere if they want to keep moving up the racing ladder. With only three drivers advancing from each of the five heats, anyone who waits too long to strike in the 10-lap race will find themselves dealing with a crowded last chance qualifier. And with only two more transfer spots up for grabs in the LCQ, there’s no time to waste on the hunt for a berth in the 30-lap feature.
Tonight’s eNASCAR IGNITE Series race sends drivers to Bristol Motor Speedway, the same track hosting real-world NASCAR action this weekend across all three national touring series and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. As is the case throughout the IGNITE playoffs, the racing can be streamed live on the iRacing eSports Network on Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube starting at 9PM ET.