April 20th, 2020 by Chris Leone
As the iRacing World of Outlaws NOS Energy Sprint Car World Championship approaches the halfway point of its 2020 season, two things are for certain. The first is that anything can happen on any given Monday. The second is that, because that’s been the case so far this year, this is still anyone’s championship.
Technical issues for Alex Bergeron in the waning laps of last week’s visit to Knoxville Raceway dropped the defending series champion from a potential second victory of the season to the back of the field. That enabled Kinser Racing Sim Team’s Braden Eyler, who had made a dramatic pass on polesitter James Edens for the top spot just a few laps earlier, to score his first series victory. But perhaps more significantly, it meant a nearly 40-point swing in the championship chase for the Quebec native.
As a result, five drivers—Kendal Tucker, David Heileman, Edens, Cameron Merriman, and Eyler—enter tonight’s action at Limaland Motorsports Park within 25 points of Bergeron. All have been fairly consistent throughout the year, and all but Tucker have multiple top-five finishes so far in 2020. A win for any of them and another unlucky break for Bergeron could lead to another huge shift in the title chase.
The good news for Bergeron? Limaland is one of the tracks where he dominated last year, scoring a perfect 84 points by qualifying on the pole and winning his heat before beating Edens and Joel Berkley to the finish line. The second of his five victories last season, Bergeron led every single lap he raced at the Ohio bullring, and will hope to become this year’s first repeat winner by replicating that feat.
Even if Bergeron returns to his usual dominant ways tonight, though, this year’s Sprint Car World Championship field has proven to be incredibly deep. Only two of the 35 drivers on the roster haven’t raced in at least one main event so far this season, and 13 different drivers have cracked the top five in four rounds. With each passing week, it seems more and more likely that this year’s points chase resembles the four-way dogfight between Bergeron, Heileman, Edens, and inaugural series champion Tim Ryan from 2018, rather than the 83-point beatdown that Bergeron laid on the field last year.
The iRacing World of Outlaws NOS Energy Sprint Car World Championship race from Limaland Motorsports Park will air tonight at 9PM ET/6PM PT on the iRacing eSports Network. The second half of the season kicks off next week with a return to Lernerville Speedway, where Edens took the victory in the second round of this year’s championship.