Brad Keselowski wins first eNASCAR PIS race at Talladega

Brad Keselowski is one of the top NASCAR Cup Series drivers at Talladega Superspeedway with five wins in his career. He can add an unofficial sixth to that count after winning Wednesday’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series event at the superspeedway.

For the second race of the PIS season, the field featured some curious names as Kurt Busch and Chase Briscoe opted out due to their participation in a tyre test at Nashville ahead of the inaugural Cup race there in June. To fill out the grid, part-time Camping World Truck Series driver Jesse Iwuji and Kevin Harvick‘s eight-year-old son Keelan were invited. Iwuji, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, qualified for the grid via fan vote and placed his iRacing simulator in the Annapolis school’s Dahlgren Hall.

Iwuji was in the #99 as the real-life number’s driver Daniel Suárez switched to #97 in honour of NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Red Farmer, while the younger Harvick used his karting number #62, which is also an upside-down inversion of his father’s #29 that he used for the first half of his Cup career.

The addition of Keelan, who races in go-karts, unsurprisingly raised eyebrows due to his age. iRacing‘s privacy policy states it “is not designed for or directed to children under the age of 13” and that although one “must be an adult according to the laws of the jurisdiction […] in which (they) reside” in order to have an account, minors can play provided a “parent or guardian enroll(s) to use the Service on (their) behalf. If you authorize a minor child for whom you are a parent or guardian to use the account you create to use the Service, you should not provide us with any personally identifiable information about such child.” Other quesitons surrounded NASCAR’s decision to let him compete after previously barring Timmy Hill, who was entered for Talladega via provisional, from running the 2021 PIS opener as his MBM Motorsports team does not have a charter; while he did enter said race in Keselowski’s car, the ruling led to him missing real-life Cup races as MBM lost out on critical promotion and sponsorship.

In spite of this, the very considerable age gap did not stop Keelan from being the fastest driver in practice. The Harvicks’ Stewart-Haas Racing team-mate Aric Almirola did not start the race after suffering from the very relatable misfortune of his wi-fi disconnecting right as green flag waved.

Credit: NASCAR/iRacing

“You can’t make this stuff up. This is just how our year as gone,” Almirola said in a video on social media. “A minute before the race was getting ready to start, our internet went out and I got kicked out of the iRacing session and so now, I can’t race the iRace tonight at Talladega.

“I have nightmares about this stuff in real life. I always have these dreams where I’m getting ready for the race but I’m not getting ready fast enough and I can’t get my suit on and I can’t tie my shoes. They’re going out for pace laps and I’m not ready yet, like I’m late to get into the car and the race is gonna start without me. Virtually, that really happened to me.”

James Davison, who is not entered in the real-life Talladega race on Sunday, dominated the race from the pole by leading 61 of 70 laps. Those behind him were not as lucky as drivers like Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, Bristol Dirt iRace winner William Byron, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Matt DiBenedetto, and Justin Haley found themselves in numerous wrecks. Haley’s wreck, which collected Bubba Wallace and Hamlin, with two laps to go set up a final restart as Keselowski battled with Davison for the win.

Keselowski would take the lead with Christopher Bell in tow to score his first Pro Invitational Series victory. Davison fell to eighth, while Iwuji and Keelan finished nineteenth and thirty-eighth, respectively.

The next PIS race will take place at Darlington Raceway in two weeks. After Darlington will be two rounds at Circuit of the Americas (19 May) and the Chicago Street Course (2 June).

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 12 2 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 70 Running
2 24 20 Christopher Bell Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 70 Running
3 5 18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 70 Running
4 6 66 Timmy Hill MBM Motorsports Toyota 70 Running
5 33 48 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 70 Running
6 8 34 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 70 Running
7 7 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. JR Motorsports Chevrolet 70 Running
8 1 15 James Davison Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet 70 Running
9 27 41 Cole Custer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 70 Running
10 15 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 70 Running
11 29 77 Justin Haley Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 70 Running
12 14 23 Bubba Wallace 23XI Racing Toyota 70 Running
13 9 4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 70 Running
14 3 51 Garrett Smithley Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet 70 Running
15 40 12 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 70 Running
16 13 17 Chris Buescher Roush Fenway Racing Ford 70 Running
17 11 5 Kyle Larson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 70 Running
18 25 6 Ryan Newman Roush Fenway Racing Ford 70 Running
19 22 99 Jesse lwuji Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet 70 Running
20 34 79 Clint Bowyer Clint Bowyer Racing Ford 70 Running
21 4 11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 70 Running
22 17 19 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 70 Running
23 28 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 70 Running
24 38 43 Erik Jones Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet 70 Running
25 36 97 Daniel Suárez Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet 70 Running
26 26 00 Quin Houff StarCom Racing Chevrolet 70 Running
27 35 52 Josh Bilicki Rick Ware Racing Ford 70 Running
28 16 7 Corey LaJoie Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 70 Running
29 21 8 Tyler Reddick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 70 Running
30 2 38 Anthony Alfredo Front Row Motorsports Ford 70 Running
31 37 42 Ross Chastain Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 70 Running
32 19 24 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 69 Running
33 23 9 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 69 Running
34 10 21 Matt DiBenedetto Wood Brothers Racing Ford 69 Running
35 18 28 Joey Gase Rick Ware Racing Ford 69 Running
36 32 14 Chase Briscoe Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 69 Running
37 30 22 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 69 Running
38 39 62 Keelan Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 68 Running
39 31 78 B.J. McLeod Live Fast Motorsports Ford 68 Running
40 20 10 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 0 Disconnected

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