Eldora Speedway never disappoints, and that clearly holds true for virtual racing, too. While fans wait for the real dirt to fly, Big E provided a rush of adrenaline during the World of Outlaws: eDirt Racing Shootout debut Tuesday night on CBS Sports Network.
World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car star Logan Schuchart brought the virtual crowd and those watching at home to their feet, trading slide jobs with Kevin Swindell for the final five laps and edging him at the finish line to win his first World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car iRacing Feature … using the DIRTVision studio simulator no less. But before all that excitement, 19-year-old Kaeden Cornell picked up his first World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model iRacing win in a barn burner race, kicking off the doubleheader.
The two drivers beat star-studded fields that included a host of dirt aces taking on high-profile invaders like Joey Logano, Austin Dillon, Juan Pablo Montoya, William Byron, Ron Capps, Chase Briscoe, Justin Allgaier and Cruz Pedregon.
The start of the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car eDirt Racing Shootout Feature saw NASCAR Xfinity Series standout Briscoe pulled away from the field as drivers behind him went three and four wide, arguing over positions second through fifth.
Swindell became the benefactor of the battle, splitting the gap between Brad Sweet, Max McLaughlin and Robbie Kendall to launch his #39 Swindell Speedlab car into second. The two-time World of Outlaws iRacing Invitational winner was then on the hunt for Briscoe.
Twelve laps into the 35-lap Feature, Briscoe pounced off the wall off Turn 2 and slid down into Swindell, who was underneath him going for the lead. The two cars locked and slid sideways going into Turn 3, stacking up the field and bringing out the caution.
Swindell and Briscoe held their positions up front, but Swindell now had the lead. He, like Briscoe before him, pulled away from the field while the top-five traded positions amongst themselves every lap.
With 15 laps to go, as Briscoe, Sweet and Balog slowed each other’s momentum while battling for second, Schuchart held the throttle to the floor and fired his Drydene #1a car into the runner-up spot.
Schuchart, a two-time World of Outlaws winner in real life at Eldora, knew exactly what to do to catch Swindell.
“I just kind of used the same line that I used in real life last year at the Kings Royal,” said Schuchart, who powered from 12th to second in the 2019 Kings Royal at Eldora. “It seems to work on this thing.”
He ran the top, putting his right rear tire on the cushion, inches from the wall. That helped him run down Swindell in seconds. Once he caught him, he tried a slide job on Swindell in the first corner, but Swindell charged back by him the next turn.
A couple of cautions got in the way of their battle, but on a restart with five laps to go, the two drivers put on a Sprint Car racing clinic, virtual or not. Schuchart would launch his car ahead of Swindell one corner and Swindell would slide back by him the next. They crossed the finish line separated by thousandths of a second each lap.
With two laps to go, Swindell bounced off the cushion just enough to give Schuchart the advantage to clear him off Turn 4. However, Swindell wasn’t finished. “The Bulldog” stayed close to Schuchart and looked underneath him coming to the checkered flag.
Schuchart had the better momentum off Turn 4 and edged Swindell at the line by 0.25 seconds.
As fast as everyone’s heart was beating by watching the spectacular finish, Schuchart’s adrenaline was up just as high.
“My heart is going, I feel like I just got out of a real car,” said an out of breath Schuchart. “That was a great race with Kevin. That was really cool. We were able to race each other real clean. It was a lot of run. It’s real cool to win one of these things.”
After the race Swindell took to Twitter to say, “Cushion: 1, Me: 0.”
"Pandemonium at the front of the building as Logan Schuchart comes back after that late model debut." Logan Schuchart is The World of Outlaws: iRacing Shootout Winner. 🏁@LSchuchart1s pic.twitter.com/rQ9i3ug0gJ
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) April 29, 2020
For Cornell, his victory came one night after coming so close in an Invitational race at Eldora. On Tuesday night, he took advantage of a mistake by the late-race leaders and swiped the top spot away with just a pair of laps remaining to collect his long-awaited first World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model iRacing victory.
Cornell, known to the Outlaws iRacing circuit for his always-happy attitude and gleeful post-race interviews, was immediately overjoyed with the big victory.
When asked about the winning move by CBS Sports host Dave Rieff in the post-race interview, Cornell excitedly replied, “I have no clue! I don’t know what it looked like, but it was chaos from my screen.”
In fact, the on-track action was rather chaotic throughout the entire 35-lap contest. Right from the drop of the green, the yellow flags flew, and Cornell was caught right in the middle of it.
After spending most of the first 10 laps under caution for two multi-car wrecks on the backstretch, Cornell got an excellent run off the top side of Turn 2 on a Lap 10 restart and thread the needle between then-leader Matt Cosner and Ashton Winger down the backstretch for the lead. But, some contact between the three was made in the process and Cornell was left almost completely sideways, heading for the outside wall as the field raced into Turn 3.
But Cornell was able to gather it back in without bringing out the yellow or losing wholesale positions, and immediately put it back on the top side and began his charge to the front. At his lowest point, Cornell sat as deep as 13th in the running order. But as the laps clicked off, Cornell began to pass more and more cars.
By the final restart with four laps to go, Cornell had come all the way back up to fourth. He stuck his DirtDraft #50 on the top side for one final dash to the finish and made the most of it, passing Mike McKinney for third with three-to-go, then taking advantage of wrecking leaders Winger and Nick Stroupe one lap later for the lead, and the eventual win.
With the epic comeback complete, Cornell was only beginning to soak-in what had happened on-track as he explained to Rieff and fellow announcers Kenny Wallace and Johnny Gibson in the post-race interview what was actually happening outside his house.
“I’m in Willard, Missouri, and we just went through a tornado warning! I was just praying the lights didn’t come off my dang house,” Cornell again said with excitement. “This is awesome! What a deal! I’m pumped!”
Thankful the strong storm didn’t damage his house, Cornell had only a brief, yet energetic explanation to Gibson of what was going through his mind on the final restart.
“Just full send, just gotta go,” he said. “I got wrecked earlier but I think it was just a racing deal, no one’s fault, really. But you just gotta get after it here, I love it. Up on the wheel, it was awesome!”
Coming from 12th to seventh in his first iRacing Late Model Feature start, eventual Sprint Car winner Schuchart said he really had a blast in the full-fendered cars.
“You gotta get through the carnage first, but hey, I’ll take it for my first time in a Late Model, it was fun. Definitely gotta stay away from the crashes,” Schuchart said.
Logano also had a blast for his first time with the Outlaws in the iRacing Late Model, and even gave a shot to his other NASCAR buddies in a post-race reaction video he posted on his Twitter account.
“Here’s the main thing I took away from this – Austin Dillon finished 16th. So, of the NASCAR guys, not that bad,” Logano added with a lighthearted smirk into the camera after besting Dillon by one spot.
Next Tuesday, the World of Outlaws: eDirt Racing Shootout goes to virtual Volusia Speedway Park in Florida, better known as the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. Sunday and Monday World of Outlaws iRacing Invitationals will take place on DIRTVision, while the eDirt Racing Shootout returns to CBS Sports Network.
World of Outlaws: eDirt Racing Shootout; April 28, 2020; Virtual Eldora Speedway
World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Feature (35 laps) — 1. 50-Kaeden Cornell  [$1,000]; 2. 96-Mike McKinney ; 3. 12-Ashton Winger ; 4. 32-Bobby Pierce ; 5. 45-Nick Stroupe ; 6. 11-Tyler Reddick ; 7. 1-Logan Schuchart ; 8. 66-Matt Cosner ; 9. 29-Ethan Toedter ; 10. 7-Justin Allgaier ; 11. 1-Brandon Sheppard ; 12. 2-Nick Hoffman ; 13. 88-Trent Ivey ; 14. 9-Devin Moran ; 15. 22-Joey Logano ; 16. 3-Austin Dillon ; 17. 0-Corey Gordon ; 18. 99-Matty Watkins ; 19. 39-Kevin Swindell ; 20. 0-Scott Bloomquist ; 21. 1-Logan Seavey ; 22. 71-Cruz Pedregon ; 23. 5-Chase Briscoe . Lap leaders: Matt Cosner 1-10; Ashton Winger 11-32; Nick Stroupe 33; Kaeden Cornell 34-35. Penske Racing Shocks Hard Charger: Bobby Pierce +18.
World of Outlaws Sprint Car NOS Energy Drink Feature (35 laps) — 1. 1-Logan Schuchart  [$1,000]; 2. 39-Kevin Swindell ; 3. 170-Bill Balog ; 4. 49-Brad Sweet ; 5. 7-Tyler Courtney ; 6. 17-Austin McCarl ; 7. 6-Juan Pablo Montoya ; 8. 5-Chase Briscoe ; 9. 35-Mike Mahaney ; 10. 1-Jacob Allen ; 11. 17-Max McLaughlin ; 12. 2-Wayne Johnson ; 13. 41-David Gravel ; 14. 5-Brent Marks ; 15. 25-William Byron ; 16. 28-Ron Capps ; 17. 18-Ian Madsen ; 18. 21-Brian Brown ; 19. 2-Carson Macedo ; 20. 55-Robbie Kendall ; 21. 2-Kerry Madsen . Lap leaders: Chase Briscoe 1-11; Kevin Swindell 12-33; Logan Schuchart 34-35. KSE Hard Charger: Juan Pablo Montoya +13.