Schildhouse Finally Earns Monday Night Win
By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
David Schildhouse finally takes a trip to victory lane in Monday Night Racing after coming close several times before.
Schildhouse held off charges from NASCAR Cup Series driver Garrett Smithley, Xfinity Series driver Preston Pardus, Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr., and others from the motorsports industry. The driver of the virtual No. 20 Advanced.GG Chevrolet Camaro SS lined up inside the top-five on the final restart in overtime. Schildhouse had been swept up in an accident 13 laps earlier and used his only fast repair of the night.
The Kligerman Sport Community Manager waited for his opportunity to take the lead in the Monday Night Racing Rowdy Energy Pro Series. Schildhouse was pushed forward first by Podium eSports owner Gary Sexton and sim racer Adam Cabot. His rivals in the outside lane consisted of Pardus, Smithley, and Kickin’ the Tires Staff Writer Seth Eggert.
When Sexton jumped out of line to try to take the lead himself, Schildhouse locked down the lead. The disorganization of the outside line combined with a push from both Cabot and Eggert shot the virtual No. 20 Chevrolet forward. Further back in the field, Earnhardt Jr attempted a late-race rally in the virtual No. 8 FilterTime Chevrolet, only to be blocked by Sexton.
“It’s all about the restart when you’re the leader,” explained Schildhouse. “Preston and Garrett didn’t get as good of a launch as Gary, and I did. When I saw that I knew that Gary was going to have the opportunity to jump up to my outside off of two because he was clear of Preston. Big shout out to ‘P-Money’ (Pardus) by the way. Could not have (gotten to the front) without him.”
Despite the organization of the inside line, Schildhouse didn’t break out of the side-by-side battle until the exit of Turn 4 coming to the checkered flag. As chaos broke out behind him, the iRacing veteran cruised to victory lane. In races during Season 3, Schildhouse often found himself in similar positions, leading in the final laps, only for another caution to wave or an accident to hurt his chances.
“I spent the whole off-season wondering what it would feel like to be a winner in the series and all I had to do was move to Charlotte, N.C. to find out,” joked Schildhouse. “One race, we got the win. It feels so good. I’ve been trying so hard, tried so hard last season to win a race. Kept coming up short, stupid things would happen to take me out of these things.
“There was a part of my brain that was wondering over that green-white-checkered about what stupid thing was going to happen to take this race out of my hands. I’ve been in this situation a lot in other leagues and superspeedway series. I just put it all to work, and I finally got it done, finally got that checkered flag and it feels good.
“Not going to have a voice tomorrow, I work remotely, I don’t care. We’re a Monday Night Racing winner!”
Behind Schildhouse, the chaos swept second through fifth into the outside wall. Eggert took an opportunity, diving to the inside of both Cabot and Pardus. The three drivers came together, hooking the virtual No. 57 Kickin’ the Tires Chevrolet into the outside wall, collecting Smithley. Eggert had been in a similar position on the outside during pre-season thunder. That night he dropped from fourth to 14th. This time, he jumped from fourth to second.
The top-five run from Eggert turned heads. He started the race in 32nd, becoming the hard charger of the race. The Racing Reporters eRacing driver was swept up in the first incident of the night. Opting not to use his fast repair, Eggert lost the draft, overheating while running behind Cup Series driver Anthony Alfredo, Frontstretch writer Michael Massie, and others.
Forced to use his fast repair, Eggert rode in the back after the second caution of the night on lap 45. A two-tire call by crew chief/spotter Dylan Friebel launched Eggert from 29th on track to seventh on the running order.
“It does feel good (to be the biggest mover),” admitted Eggert. “Honestly, I was hoping for one better. It was a little wild there, have to thank my spotter, Dylan Friebel. He sponsored me last year, been spotting me off and on, I listened to him and came out second.
“Got caught up in that first wreck and didn’t use a fast repair. I thought the optional repairs were going to be enough and I lost the draft. That second caution I was able to get the fast repair. Third caution, I locked up the brakes, got through it. Dylan called an audible, only put right side tires on. We thought we’d go from 29th to maybe 15th. And we rolled off pit road in sixth. We were a little surprised by that and just opted not to pit the rest of the race.”
Eggert crossed the line 0.088 seconds behind Schildhouse with Pardus, Cabot, and Smithley completing the top-five. Earnhardt, Collin Fern, Sexton, Steven Ellis, and DJ Cummings rounded out the top-10.
Season 4 marked several new aspects of Monday Night Racing. The iRacing league signed Rowdy Energy as the sponsor of a Pro Series. The league expanded to include a second ‘Road to Glory’ division due to the volume of applications following Season 3.
Rowdy Energy owner and two-time Cup Series champion Kyle Busch signed on to run all of Season 4. Earnhardt also plans to run the full season.
Other new drivers to the Rowdy Energy Pro Series included Brandonbilt Motorsports team manager Collin Fern, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Bryan Boris Cook, country music star Tim Dugger, and Oakland Athletics pitcher Cole Irvin. With the exception of both Fern and Irvin, the new drivers to Monday Night Racing most recently competed in the Leaf Filter Gutter Protection Replacements Series during the Covid-19 shutdown.
After running a handful of races last season both NFL Super Bowl Champion Bernard Pollard Jr and Travis ‘Moonhead’ Brown returned to the league. NASCAR Cup Series spotter and Crypto Autosport driver T.J. Majors, ARCA Menards Series driver Rajah Caruth, Xfinity drivers Robby Lyons (Season 3 champion), Will Rodgers (Season 2 champion), and Ryan Vargas also returned to the fast-growing league.
All drivers in the league are either pro athletes, real-life pros in motorsports, crew members, or motorsports media members. The power rankings for Monday Night Racing, linked below, included a big shake-up.
Next for the Monday Night Racing Rowdy Energy Pro Series is a trip to the virtual Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the current NASCAR Cup Series cars.