KNOXVILLE, Iowa – For a driver that didn’t even know he was going to be competing in the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model iRacing Invitationals until just before race time last week, Logan Seavey sure has made the most of his time behind the wheel of the Rocket1 Racing virtual house car.
In thrilling fashion, Seavey took advantage of some contact between leaders Mike McKinney and Kaeden Cornell coming to the white flag to steal the lead, which he carried all the way back around in a dramatic side-by-side finish for his first win with the late models on Monday night at virtual Knoxville Raceway.
Seavey now adds this big victory to his virtual trophy case after making other eSports headlines in previous weeks with wins in the opening round of the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Invitational two weeks ago, and most recently on the pavement at Bristol Motor Speedway in iRacing’s Saturday Night Thunder.
Both of those victories were well-deserved, but Monday night’s win could best be described as well-earned, as the Sutter, Calif., native was forced to work for it.
McKinney, winner of last Monday night’s Invitational on DIRTVision presented by Drydene, was having yet another great night aboard his NOS Energy Drink No. 96, setting Cometic Gaskets Quick Time in Racing Electronics Qualifying and starting on the pole after the win in Drydene Heat race No. 1. At the drop of the green, McKinney dropped the hammer and shot out to the early lead as the rest of the field gave chase.
McKinney’s biggest challenger throughout the 40-lap contest, for the second week in a row, was Cornell, who stayed right on McKinney’s tail through the first half of the race and finally made the move on lap 14 to take the lead out of turn two. But Cornell would have to go back, as the caution came out just as he completed the pass.
Tightly the field stayed through the midway point of the race, several drivers in the top-five swapping spots through multiple caution flags on the way to the final 15 laps. Seavey got a great restart with 14 lap sleft and dove to the inside of Cornell into turn one to grab the runner-up spot. But the Knoxville racing surface was virtually prepared perfectly, allowing Cornell to throw a slide job of his own back at Seavey in the next corner to regain second.
The podium stayed solid as a final restart came on lap 33, and what followed was some of the best racing action the entire Invitational has shown on DIRTVision since the beginning. From lap 35 through 38, a total of six successful slide jobs were traded back-and-forth by McKinney and Cornell. Corner-after-corner they battled as Seavey wisely let them duke it out ahead of him as he stalked his prey on the topside right behind the two leaders, just waiting to pounce.
As the three prepared to take the white flag, McKinney tried one last slide job on Cornell heading into turn three and miscalculated, coming up into Cornell and making contact as Seavey slid by on the bottom as they crossed the flag stand. Down the backstretch the three raced, Cornell still on Seavey’s rear bumper as he threw his No. 1 virtual Rocket hard into turn three and hit the inside berm. Cornell showed a big wheel to Seavey, who almost scraped the wall coming out of turn four and pulled almost even with Seavey at the line as they banged wheels coming to the checkers.
But it was not enough to beat him to the stripe. Seavey had stolen the win by just a few virtual feet at the line. His master plan in the final laps had worked.
“It seemed like the longer the run went, the more I could keep up with them,” Seavey said in the Morton Buildings post-race interview. “But I knew to go by both of them, I’d have to get by when they were racing. Every time they got sliding each other, I was trying to dip to the bottom and capitalize on a mistake. Finally, they made one and I cut to the middle at the last minute and I could see them both behind me after that.”
Seavey will go another big victory this Wednesday night in a features-only doubleheader adjacent to the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars on FS1 at 8 p.m. ET. The young Californian isn’t complaining about the abundance of iRacing or its surge in popularity.
“I keep trying to explain to people how crazy this has turned around,” Seavey said. “We’re all sitting at home with nothing to do, and next thing I know, I’m racing every night of the week for $1,000-to-win.
“Obviously, we’re not racing in real-life, but I’m able to make some money here and have a lot of fun too.”
After Monday night’s runner-up finish, Cornell now has three-consecutive bridesmaid finishes in his last three World of Outlaws iRacing Invitational starts.
“I hate second, it sucks being the first loser,” Cornell said. “But it’s cool, I love running with some big names. Me and McKinney, we should have won… we kinda gave it to Seavey. But I was so mad about finishing second that I didn’t even watch [him].”
Another third-place result for Plainfield, Ill.-driver McKinney in back-to-back races had him in good spirits after the checkered, and although he would have loved to have been the first repeat winner, he was happy for Seavey’s success.
“We were pretty good there early, but I think we had a little bit too much gear for the end,” McKinney said. “But at the end of the day, we put on a really good race, so hat’s off to Logan Seavey. I know he’s working with the guys at Rocket Chassis, so it’s really cool to see him in victory lane here.”
The finish: 1-Logan Seavey [$1,000]; 2. 50-Kaeden Cornell ; 3. 96-Mike McKinney ; 4. 57-Kyle Larson ; 5. 20-Ricky Thornton Jr. ; 6. 39-Kevin Swindell ; 7. 15-Matt Shannon ; 8. 55-Chris Hile ; 9. 95-Robbie Kendall ; 10. 45-Nick Stroupe ; 11. 5-Chase Briscoe ; 12. 79-Kyle Hardy ; 13. 12-Ashton Winger ; 14. 28-Sam Mars ; 15. 14-Tyler Clem ; 16. 0-Corey Gordon ; 17. 2-Nick Hoffman ; 18. 35-Mike Mahaney ; 19. 32-Bobby Pierce ; 20. 83-Zack Mitchell ; 21. 88-Trent Ivey ; 22. 2-Carson Macedo .