Jake Nichols Earns Career Best Finish at Virtual NHMS
By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
A strong late-race run at the virtual New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) earned Jake Nichols a career-best finish.
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series driver avoided an 11-car pile-up on a restart on lap 126 at ‘The Magic Mile.’ The virtual No. 24 Mode Media House Ford Mustang narrowly slipped through as Ryan Luza, Femi Olat, Vicente Salas, Bobby Zalenski and others were collected on the narrow frontstretch.
Back-to-back cautions allowed Nichols to climb up the running order. With under 10 laps to go, he had moved into the top-five behind Jimmy Mullis, Michael Conti, and Zack Novak. On a restart with five laps to, Nichols battled with Novak for third. Another caution pushed the eNASCAR race into overtime.
In overtime, while Mullis rocketed away, Nichols had his own strong restart. He powered by Novak for third coming to the white flag. Throughout the final lap, Nichols battled Conti’s virtual No. 8 WR1 Sim Chassis Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for second. On the outside, he worked to keep the JR Motorsports driver at bay.
Exiting turn four, the duo were side-by-side for position. Approaching ‘The Granite Stripe,’ Nichols carried his momentum to take second from Conti when the checkered flag waved. Prior to NHMS, his best career finish in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series was fourth.
“Man, it was crazy,” Nichols explained about the finish. “I knew we had to get around Novak. Felt like if we got to his outside, I had a chance. Our Mode Media House Mustang tonight was on rails. I can’t thank everyone enough, Kyle Long, everyone from the Mode gang, and Bobby Dale Earnhardt Legacy eSports for all the hard work. We put in so much effort in last night to get this car to where it needed to be.
“Chris Overland predicted before the race that I’d run second,” Nichols joked. “I said, ‘I hope we’re one better than that.’ Somehow, he predicted it. Maybe he needs to do that every week and keep running good.”
Nichols qualified 15th for the 151-lap race. Despite two cautions before the halfway mark of the race, the Mode Media House driver stayed on the same strategy as the leaders. Those that went off strategy slipped down the running order, sometimes with disasterous results.
“We needed a good points race, we needed one,” Nichols admitted. “The last three races we kept getting involved in other people’s drama. Until Road America, but that was my own. To finally have good restarts, it gives us good confidence moving forward that I know that I can get the job done. We have better cars now than we have the past few years. Hopefully we can do one better now and get a win.”
The driver of the virtual No. 24 Ford Mustang is 22nd in the points standings after the virtual NHMS. Without a win and 10 winners currently inside the top-20 in points, Nichols needs a win and to pass Chris Shearburn in points to earn a spot in the eNASCAR playoffs.
Currently, Nichols is 18-points behind 20th, held by Garrett Lowe. He is 20-points behind Shearburn.
Only two points races remain in the regular season for the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, Watkins Glen International and Michigan International Speedway. Watkins Glen is the next points race on Tuesday, August 3.