Dale Jr. 11th On the (Virtual) Streets of Chicago in iRacing Pro Invitational Bout

Ron Lemasters | 6/3/2021

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hellmann's iRacing News Walmart

Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the No. 88 Walmart Cookshop/Hellmann's Chevrolet to an 11th-place finish in the Windy City 110.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (June 3, 2021) – In the inaugural eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series event through the streets of Chicago, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the No. 88 Walmart Cookshop/Hellmann’s Chevrolet to an 11th-place finish in the Windy City 110, overcoming a first-lap incident to post a solid result.

Australian James Davison banished any doubt about who the winner would be, qualifying on the pole and leading all 51 laps around the 2.2-mile road course circling historic Grant Park. The veteran road racer crossed the finish line an amazing 56 seconds ahead of Rick Ware Racing teammate Josh Bilicki and Justin Haley. The third RWR car, driven by Garrett Smithley, was fourth, followed by Martin Truex Jr.

The first lap of the event saw several drivers suffer mischief on the tight nine-turn layout. Earnhardt Jr. was one of them, snapping his Walmart/Hellmann’s Next Gen Chevrolet around in the pack and taking a couple of hits from cars passing by. That dropped him from seventh to 13th in the running order.

That became a familiar refrain throughout the event, and it proved Earnhardt Jr.’s pre-race prediction an accurate one.

 

 

After dealing with the damage from the spin and contact, Earnhardt Jr. dropped to 27th at lap 12 as others dealt with their own damage. He was 24th after 19 laps, and most of the field split the race into halves and pitted around the halfway point. Earnhardt Jr. climbed to 17th with 17 laps remaining in the 56-lap event. Seven laps later, Earnhardt Jr. had risen to 13th and rode 11th with two laps remaining before crossing the line there at the checkered.

Nearly half the field was involved in a crash or spin of some sort, as the virtual circuit took its toll on the heavy stock cars. Davison was not fazed by the layout or the scenery of the Chicago Loop, which included Lake Shore Drive and Buckingham Fountain. Many competitors used both of their fast-repair resets early in the event and had to struggle home with damage.

An accomplished road racer, Davison took off at the initial green and never looked back, navigating the tricky course with aplomb. Behind Bilicki, Haley, Smithley and Truex Jr., Timmy Hill took sixth, with Matt DiBenedetto, Ross Chastain, Quin Houff and Joey Logano finishing as the remainder of the top 10.

It was Davison’s second straight Pro Invitational victory after taking the top spot in the most recent event at Circuit of the Americas. With the victory, iRacing will donate $5,000 to a charity of Davison’s choice in celebration of the victory.

The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series ended its run with FOX Sports 1 and will continue later this season with coverage on NBC Sports.

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XFINITY Series Standings

After B&L Transport 170

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course | 6/5/2021
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Austin Cindric5580
2AJ Allmendinger462-96
3Daniel Hemric437-121
4Harrison Burton437-121
5Jeb Burton419-139
6Justin Haley401-157
7Justin Allgaier395-163
10Michael Annett326-232
11Noah Gragson324-234
16Josh Berry #256-302