As iRacing continues to dominate the motorsports world, the heroes from the World of Outlaws Dirt Sprint Car & Late Model Series were back at it Wednesday night at Knoxville Raceway’s virtual track. While each of the virtual drivers put up one heck of a battle in both the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car and World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model series feature races, the most impressive performance came from a Sprint Car competitor who drove to a storybook redemption win at a track that once tried to ruin his life.
Former rising sprint car star Kevin Swindell seemed to be the driver to beat during the 2015 race season – that is, until an accident in Heat 2 of the 2015 Knoxville Nationals left him partially paralyzed below the waist. While he was able to stand up for his wedding in 2016, the movement that he needed to be competitive in the racing world had disappeared – that is, until the world of iRacing came to the forefront.
After returning to the track that was once his nemesis, Swindell had the opportunity to both steal the hearts of fans and allow each to witness a miracle of a comeback story through his return to competition as well as a hard fought win in last night’s 35-Lap feature.
Although the hand-picked group of 21 elite drivers in the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car iRacing Invitational field were lined up by average iRacing times, and Swindell had the quickest average time, an eight-car invert left him starting eighth. Despite starting outside the top five, the hard-charging duo of Kyle Larson and Swindell rapidly moved up the field. As Larson slid into second by Lap 5, Swindell wasn’t too far behind.
Following the wave of the first caution flag on Lap 10, Swindell would be given the chance to roll to third. On the restart, Swindell snuck his way by the No. 55 of Robbie Kendall and No. 57 of Kyle Larson to take the lead. While he would hold this lead for the next five laps, Larson worked the bottom to run Swindell down and charge his way to the lead.
This effort wouldn’t last long, though, as Swindell refused to be denied a victory at this track. As Swindell and Larson pulled away from the pack, the Bartlett, TN driver never let Larson get comfortable by keeping just inches between the font bumper of his No. 39 car and the rear of Larson’s No. 57 car. Although Larson was flawless for most of the remainder of this race, with eight laps left Swindell found enough grip around the bottom of the racetrack to jolt ahead of Larson for the lead off of Turn 2. After, Larson slid out of the groove and hit the wall off of Turn 2; he collided with oncoming traffic, bogging up the field and forcing drivers to make split second maneuvers to avoid a collision.
While the field situated itself, Swindell pulled away to a two-second lead. Using customized hand controls on his steering wheel to throttle and brake his virtual Sprint Car, an elated Swindell cruised to redemption at Knoxville Raceway and celebrated his win with a spectacular display of donuts.
“This win was awesome,” said Swindell. “With the way the hand controls work, I can’t hustle as well as I could when I could use my feet. In fact, it really forces me into a situation where I can be smooth and most times I have to shy away from the top. I wish I had a little better throttle and I could do a better job; I still struggle with this a little bit, but last night was so good and I am pumped that I drove away like that.”
In the second race of the night, drivers from the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series would get the chance to prove what they can do in a 40-Lap virtual race, where Corey Gordon put his best effort into driving away with the win.
At the drop of the green, Gordon raced down the backstretch from his third place starting spot and threw it hard into Turn 3 underneath polesitter Bobby Pierce. Gordon quickly powered down the backstretch to immediately put some distance between himself and the rest of the 21-car field. Hugging the low line around the inside berm for much of the 40-lap contest, Gordon opened up a 1.5-second advantage on the race polesitter. A caution at the halfway mark of this race ended Gordon’s lead and gave every other driver a fighting chance.
While the No. 50 of Kaeden Cornell would do his part to try and take the win away from Gordon, he made contact with the slower car of NHRA driver Cruz Pedregon out of Turn 2 during the final five laps. While Cornell would hold his own following this incident, Corey Gordon found a way to race back to the lead when the green waved for the final time. He powered out in front of Cornell and the rest of the field and drove back around to the checkered flag for his first Morton Buildings Late Model iRacing Invitational win.
“I hated to see all of those cautions at the end of this race, but it was a great race overall,” said Gordon. “After I got back out front, I just set my own pace and drove to a race win at a very challenging track.”
Stay tuned to RacingJunk.com as the World of Outlaws virtual iRacing season continues.