Mike McKinney Tops Stout Field In Monday’s WoO Late Model iRacing Invitational

Story By: JORDAN DELUCIA / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – CONCORD, NC – Dirt Late Model racers are quick to adapt to changing conditions with every race, but Monday night they faced one of the biggest challenges they’ve ever seen — the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model iRacing Invitational from The (virtual) Dirt Track at Charlotte.

The event broadcast on DIRTVision included 45 stars from multiple racing disciplines battling for just 21 spots in the 50-lap, $1,000-to-win Morton Buildings Feature. Then, just an hour before racing began, it was announced the legendary Scott Bloomquist was joining the event, raising the stakes for each of the competitors in their simulator rigs around the country.

While Bloomquist, who had barely turned any laps in iRacing before qualifying, made the Morton Buildings Feature, it was DIRTcar veteran Mike McKinney who dominated, taking the checkered flag over Kaeden Cornell and Ashton Winger.

“Man, my heart was racing through all 50 laps,” said McKinney, of Plainfield, IL. “It’s really tough being the leader here. It’s super tough, you’re not really able to move around as much as you want, but luckily we were good enough to hang on.”

McKinney was stellar all event long, winning Drydene Heat race #1 and claiming the pole position for the main event alongside South Carolina Super Late Model regular Trent Ivey.

At the drop of the green, McKinney mashed the pedal of his NOS Energy Drink ride and took off, opening up a slim lead before several cautions began to pepper the race and erase his lead each time.

McKinney used more than 10 years of sim racing experience to fend off fierce challenges throughout the race from Sprint Car racer Eric Riggins Jr. and NASCAR Cup Series star Kyle Larson. He did so using each of the three racing grooves and a very stable setup, thanks to his pro sim friends and iRacing Late Model champions.

“From Qualifying to the Feature, I could put it wherever,” McKinney said. “I’ve got to give a big thanks to my engineers I’ve got with me — Blake Matjoulis and Blake Cannon, they’re two drivers that run the [iRacing] Pro Series on here and I’ve spent a lot of laps with those two. Big props to them.”

One of McKinney’s biggest challenges came from Riggins, who first slid underneath him on a restart with 15-to-go and got his only lap led of the race. But McKinney dove back to the bottom the next lap and swiped it back, leading until a final green-white checkered restart.

Two laps left on the scoreboard and McKinney dropped the hammer in front of Winger and Cornell; Riggins dropped back in the laps prior from hitting the wall. McKinney got a good restart, but Winger got an even better one as he powered to the #96’s outside.

With Winger to his outside, a big slidejob from McKinney came barreling into Turn 3 to grab the spot back as they drove to the white flag. Cornell spent the entire race inside the top-five and drove underneath Winger as the field went into Turn 3 for the final time.

As McKinney drove under the checkered flag, Winger had taken the extreme high side and scraped the wall coming out of Turn 4 as Cornell came up from his low groove to try and take the same spot at the stripe. The two made heavy contact, simultaneously crossing the line with Cornell just edging out Winger by a nose for second.

“I kinda missed [turns] 3 and 4 a little bit and got hung out where I didn’t need to be,” Winger said. “I think I was coming down, [Cornell] was coming up, just racing for the same piece of real estate. But that was a lot of fun.”

“I kinda feel bad, I hit everything there was to hit on poor Ashton Winger’s car… I knocked the doors off that thing,” Cornell admitted in the Morton Buildings post-race interview. “It was fun though.”

Iron Station, NC-native Nick Stroupe crossed the stripe in fourth after keeping his #45 within distance of the leaders throughout the race. By the end, he said it was all about hanging onto his car, as he accumulated some damage from heavy contact earlier in the race.

“When you wreck it as hard as I did, it does throw it off pretty hard,” Stroupe said. “Me, Corey [Gordon] and [Kyle] Larson got into it pretty hard on the front-stretch and that’s when I thought I was done. They gave me my spot back and it wasn’t too bad, just hung on.”

After winning the first World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car iRacing Invitational event last Wednesday night, it was quite surprising to see USAC Sprint Car and Midget star Logan Seavey transferring into the Feature by grabbing the final transfer spot in VP Racing Fuels Last Chance Showdown #1. But he made terrific use of his 20th starting spot, charging all the way back up to fifth in his Rocket1 Racing ride, subbing for regular real-life pilot Brandon Sheppard, and claimed the Penske Shocks Hard Charger Award with a terrific, patient run through 50 laps.

“I think the slicker the racetrack got, the better the car got and the better I got,” Seavey said. “

“Another 10 laps would have been nice. I think we just need to have a little bit smoother of a day. I didn’t even know I was running this race until about 3 o’clock, hadn’t run a Late Model for about three years so I just got on and turned a bunch of laps and kept getting better.”

As for Bloomquist, he settled for a 17th-place finish, but was pleased with his first experience in his new sim rig.

“We just got this piece last night and I’ve never done anything like this,” Bloomquist said on Twitter from his shop in Mooresburg, TN. “It felt like I picked it up pretty good. I just need some more practice with cars on the racetrack. I’m just happy we made the race. … I really think it’s amazing. I’ve watched the other races. I can’t help but say it, it got my pulse up. It was exciting.”

Morton Buildings Feature (50 laps) — 1. 96-Mike McKinney [1][$1,000]; 2. 50-Kaeden Cornell [7]; 3. 12-Ashton Winger3 [8]; 4. 45-Nick Stroupe [6]; 5. 1-Logan Seavey [20]; 6. 57-Kyle Larson [5]; 7. 47-Eric Riggins [3]; 8. 991-David Seibers [13]; 9. 2-Nick Hoffman [10]; 10. 28-Sam Mars [19]; 11. 55-Chris Hile [15]; 12. 39-Kevin Swindell [11]; 13. 2-Carson Macedo [17]; 14. 99-Matty Watkins [4]; 15. 54-Larry Barber Jr [12]; 16. 95-Robbie Kendall- [9]; 17. 7-Scott Bloomquist [18]; 18. 11-Gordy Gundaker [21]; 19. 5-Corey Gordon [16]; 20. 14-Tyler Clem [14]; 21. 88-Trent Ivey [2]. Lap Leaders: Mike McKinney 1-35, 37-50 [49]; Eric Riggins 36 [1]. Penske Racing Shocks Hard Charger: Logan Seavey +15.

Racing Electronics Qualifying — 1. 45-Nick Stroupe [15.142]; 2. 88-Trent Ivey [15.147]; 3. 47-Eric Riggins [15.151]; 4. 99-Matty Watkins [15.176]; 5. 57-Kyle Larson [15.178]; 6. 96-Mike McKinney [15.191]; 7. 50-Kaeden Cornell [15.2]; 8. 12-Ashton Winger [15.203]; 9. 15-Matt Shannon [15.212]; 10. 2-Nick Hoffman [15.213]; 11. 39-Kevin Swindell [15.24]; 12. 54-Larry Barber Jr. [15.246]; 13. 1-Logan Seavey [15.257]; 14. 95-Robbie Kendall [15.264]; 15. 55-Chris Hile [15.264]; 16. 7-Scott Bloomquist [15.276]; 17. 2-Carson Macedo [15.302]; 18. 66-Matt Cosner [15.314]; 19. 14-Tyler Clem [15.32]; 20. 23-Seth Bergman [15.324]; 21. 5-Chase Briscoe [15.327]; 22. 18-Anthony Perrego [15.34]; 23. 9-Devin Moran [15.36]; 24. 20-Ricky Thornton [15.385]; 25. 28-Sam Mars [15.406]; 26. 10-Matt Dooley [15.419]; 27. 121-Michael Hensley [15.436]; 28. 991-David Seibers [15.456]; 29. 28-Ron Capps [15.473]; 30. 83-Zack Mitchell [15.474]; 31. 22-Chris Ferguson [15.535]; 32. 89-Mike Spatola [15.543]; 33. 11-Gordy Gundaker [15.548]; 34. 32-Bobby Pierce [15.629]; 35. 87-Ross Bailes [15.694]; 36. 0-Logan Schuchart [15.698]; 37. 35-Mike Mahaney [15.715]; 38. 24-Justin Allgaier [15.732]; 39. 79-Kyle Hardy [15.787]; 40. 132-Trevor Herr [15.87]; 41. 29-Adam Logan [16.299]; 42. 5-Corey Gordon [NT]; 43. 71-Cruz Pedregon [NT].

Drydene Heat #1 (8 laps) — Top 3 Transferred — 1. 96-Mike McKinney [2]; 2. 45-Nick Stroupe [1]; 3. 39-Kevin Swindell [3]; 4. 7-Scott Bloomquist [4]; 5. 5-Chase Briscoe [5]; 6. 22-Chris Ferguson [7]; 7. 0-Logan Schuchart [8]; 8. 29-Adam Logan [9]; 9. 10-Matt Dooley [6].

EZ-GO Heat #2 (8 laps) — Top 3 Transferred — 1. 88-Trent Ivey [1]; 2. 50-Kaeden Cornell [2]; 3. 54-Larry Barber Jr [3]; 4. 2-Carson Macedo [4]; 5. 5-Corey Gordon [9]; 6. 121-Michael Hensley [6]; 7. 18-Anthony Perrego [5]; 8. 35-Mike Mahaney [8]; 9. 89-Mike Spatola [7].

Comp Cams Heat #3 (8 laps) — Top 3 Transferred — 1. 47-Eric Riggins [1]; 2. 12-Ashton Winger [2]; 3. 991-David Seibers [6]; 4. 9-Devin Moran [5]; 5. 71-Cruz Pedregon [9]; 6. 1-Logan Seavey [3]; 7. 66-Matt Cosner [4]; 8. 24-Justin Allgaier [8]; 9. 11-Gordy Gundaker [7].

Hoosier Racing Tire Heat #4 (8 laps) — Top 3 Transferred — 1. 99-Matty Watkins [1]; 2. 95-Robbie Kendall [3]; 3. 14-Tyler Clem [4]; 4. 20-Ricky Thornton [5]; 5. 32-Bobby Pierce [7]; 6. 28-Ron Capps [6]; 7. 79-Kyle Hardy [8]; 8. 15-Matt Shannon [2].

ARP Fasteners Heat #5 (8 laps) — Top 3 Transferred — 1. 57-Kyle Larson [1]; 2. 2-Nick Hoffman [2]; 3. 55-Chris Hile [3]; 4. 83-Zack Mitchell [6]; 5. 28-Sam Mars [5]; 6. 23-Seth Bergman [4]; 7. 132-Trevor Herr [8]; 8. 87-Ross Bailes [7].

VP Racing Fuels Last Chance Showdown #1 (12 Laps) — Top 3 Transferred — 1. 5-Corey Gordon [4]; 2. 7-Scott Bloomquist [1]; 3. 1-Logan Seavey [7]; 4. 18-Anthony Perrego [9]; 5. 32-Bobby Pierce [5]; 6. 79-Kyle Hardy [10]; 7. 24-Justin Allgaier [12]; 8. 89-Mike Spatola [14]; 9. 83-Zack Mitchell [3]; 10. 87-Ross Bailes [13]; 11. 9-Devin Moran [2]; 12. 22-Chris Ferguson [6]; 13. 29-Adam Logan [11]; 14. 23-Seth Bergman [8].

Wrisco Industries Last Chance Showdown #2 (12 Laps) — Top 3 Transferred — 1. 2-Carson Macedo [1]; 2. 28-Sam Mars [5]; 3. 11-Gordy Gundaker [14]; 4. 20-Ricky Thornton [2]; 5. 28-Ron Capps [7]; 6. 15-Matt Shannon [12]; 7. 5-Chase Briscoe [3]; 8. 35-Mike Mahaney [11]; 9. 121-Michael Hensley [6]; 10. 10-Matt Dooley [13]; 11. 132-Trevor Herr [10]; 12. 0-Logan Schuchart [8]; 13. 66-Matt Cosner [9]; 14. 71-Cruz Pedregon [4].

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