Keister Continues Top-10 Streak at Darlington
By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
A third-place finish for Kollin Keister marked his sixth top-10 finish in six races in the eNASCAR Contender iRacing Series.
The Homestead-Miami Speedway winner started the race at virtual Darlington Raceway deep in the field. The virtual No. 8 Splash n Go Graphics Chevrolet Camaro SS rallied from 25th. Early in the race it was evident that the Frostburg, MD native was poised to be one of the big movers of the race.
The Norse Force Racing driver joined eventual race winner Dylan Ault opted for a one-stop strategy. Meanwhile, runner-up finisher Briar LaPradd on a two-stop strategy in the 140-lap race. Keister ultimately had to pit a second time after missing his pit stall. The differing strategies allowed him to lead a handful of laps during the second green flag pit cycle.
Although both Keister and LaPradd stormed back through the field, the tire wear equalized. That left both drivers trapped about two seconds behind Ault in the final 10 laps. When the checkered flag waved, Keister was third.
“It started off with a bad qualifying,” admitted Keister. “I didn’t know the two-stop strategy was going to be so much better than the one stop. Knew I was fast, was gaining on the leaders, went down pit road and just completely blew it. I had to come back in and thought my race was over. Had a lot of speed, and everyone being on that strategy helped out a lot too. I was able to recover and finish third.”
The third-place finish not only marked Keister’s sixth top-10 finish, but he has yet to finish outside the top-seven throughout the season. The Norse Force Racing driver leads the points standings by seven with the drop week included.
Unofficially, Keister clinched a spot on the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series grid. With the drop week included, he sits 72-points above the cutline. Keister was on the 2020 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series grid and was relegated out of the series after finishing outside the top-20 in points.
Should Keister hold onto the points lead following the season finale of the eNASCAR Contender iRacing Series at the virtual Texas Motor Speedway, he would bring Norse Force Racing their second consecutive title in the series. Isaac Gann won the championship in the 2020 series, then named the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Series.