Helton Dominates MSRA Playoff Race at Virtual Bristol

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

A dominating performance at the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway advances Nexxus eSports driver Logan Helton into the Round of 12 in the Midwest Sim Racing Association (MSRA) Premier Series.

Helton started on the pole in the Fantastic Sams 125 and never dropped outside of the top-five. The driver of the virtual No. 63 Nexxus eSports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE slipped down the running order on the initial start. However, as the run went on, he picked his way back to the lead.

Once in the lead, Helton’s main competition was from fellow playoff driver Boyd Hoggan and non-playoff driver Braxton DeWeese. The virtual No. 15 Reaper Speedlab Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE swept by both Helton and Hoggan while on fresh tires. DeWeese pitted until an early caution and used his tire advantage to win Stage 1 in just his second series start.

Meanwhile both Helton and Hoggan were on the same strategy. The duo picked their way back to the front in Stage 2. The virtual No. 96 Legacy eSports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE nabbed the lead for just one lap from the polesitter. However, Helton held off the 12-time winner as the tires wore out.

Helton ahead of Hoggan at Bristol, Photo by Erick Messer / Podium eSports.

In the final Stage both Helton and Hoggan elected to stay out. As the field pitted under green, they found themselves as the only two drivers on the lead lap. While the speed difference allowed Klayton Hoffman, Chris Civera, DeWeese, and others to move from two laps down to just one behind, they ran out of time. Helton cruised to a 5.47-second victory over Hoggan. Hoffman, Civera, and DeWeese completed the top-five and were all one lap down.

“I really like Bristol,” admitted Helton. “Had a lot of fun racing Boyd. I knew my points situation coming in, was eight points out. Knew I could point my way in, but a win was all I wanted. If I can’t point my way in the Round of Eight, I’m looking at Martinsville. That’s where my second win of the season came this year. Boyd and I again had an awesome battle there. All of my wins this season have come down to me being first and Boyd was second except for Watkins Glen.”

“Looking at what will probably be an exciting race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a single-file race at Talladega Superspeedway. I still love the package in the Cup car at superspeedways. Really looking forward to Talladega. The road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway, looking forward to that, I love my road course racing.”

Steven Davis, Jacob Shorba, John Mullins, John Theodore, and Derek Whitford rounded out the top-10. Vincent Arthur ran the fastest lap and led three laps but was swept up in an accident and finished 19th.

The race was slowed eight times by cautions for a total of 40 laps. Two of the cautions were for stage breaks while six were for on-track incidents.

The biggest incident of the race took place on lap 54. An 11-car accident took Arthur out of contention. David Centini, TJ Crampton, Brandon Davis, Ralph A. Hutchison, Mullins, Ben Myatt, Jacob Shorba, Steven Davis, Greg Watchinsky, and Whitford were also involved. The accident effectively eliminated both Myatt and Brandon Davis from advancing to the Round of 12.

Vincent Arthur, Ralph A. Hutchison and others crash at Bristol, Photo by Erick Messer / Podium eSports.

Although involved in ‘the big one,’ both Steven Davis and John Mullins advanced to the Round of 12. Both Ryan Strunk and John Theodore also advanced despite their own in-race issues. Strunk went to pit road early and finished 17th, 85 laps down. Theodore meanwhile was like a pinball, getting collected in several incidents.

The win for Helton marks a season sweep of the events at virtual Bristol, on both the concrete and dirt. It also marks his fourth win of the season, joining Martinsville Speedway, Watkins Glen, and the aforementioned Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

After the points reset for the Round of 12, Hoggan holds a commanding 55-point lead over Arthur. He also has a 93-point cushion over the cutline. Arthur is 38-points above the cutoff with both Helton and Hutchison over 20-points ahead of the cutoff.

Joseph McWhorter, Shorba, Hoffman, and Civera have less than a 10-point lead over the cutoff. Civera is just one-point ahead of Strunk, the first driver on the outside looking in. Steven Davis is five points out, with Theodore six out, and Mullins seven points behind.

Brandon Davis, Myatt, and Zach York were all eliminated from the MSRA Premier Series Playoffs.

Next for the MSRA Premier Series is a trip to the virtual Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 25 at 8:00 p.m. ET on Podium eSports.

The results:

1 63-Logan Helton [1], 2. 96-Boyd Hoggan [4], 3. 12-Klayton Hoffman [19], 4. 62-Chris Civera [2], 5. 15-Braxton DeWeese [20], 6. 92-Steven Davis [5], 7. 30-Jacob Shorba [12], 8. 64-John Mullins [11], 9. 27-John Theodore [14], 10. 44-Derek Whitford [8], 11. 31-Greg Watchinsky [16], 12. 20-Ben Myatt [17], 13. 38-Jon Binder [15], 14. 91-Brandon Davis [10], 15. 7-Kenny Powell [13], 16. 95-Evan Longacre [22], 17. 77-Ryan Strunk [23], 18. 61-TJ Crampton [21], 19. 24-Vincent Arthur [6], 20. 32-Joseph McWhorter [9], 21. 79-David Centini [7], 22. 51-Ralph A. Hutchison [3], 23. 49-Zach York [18].

Lead Changes: Seven among five drivers.

Lap Leader(s): Chris Civera 1-23, Vincent Arthur 24-26, Logan Helton 27-61, Braxton DeWeese 62-66, Chris Civera 67-73, Logan Helton 74-104, Boyd Hoggan 105, Logan Helton 106-250.

Laps Led: Logan Helton 211, Chris Civera 30, Braxton DeWeese 5, Vincent Arthur 3, Boyd Hoggan 1.

Hard Charger(s): 12-Klayton Hoffman (+16).

Caution Flags: Eight for 40 Laps.

Margin of Victory: 5.470 seconds.

Time of Race: One hour, 22 minutes, 52.480 seconds.

Average Speed: 96.471 MPH.

Pole Winner: 63-Logan Helton, 14.321 seconds (133.985 MPH).

Fastest Lap: 24-Vincent Arthur, Lap 6, 24.587 seconds (131.542 MPH).

Stage 1: 15, 63, 96, 32, 62, 27, 20, 92, 31, 44.

Stage 2: 63, 96, 12, 92, 30, 15, 20, 7, 31, 44.

This week’s MSRA Race Report is presented by Shorba’s Racing Graphics.
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