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William Byron wins Richmond to claim 2nd straight iRacing Cup win

NASCAR Cup Series Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 13: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta ‘Color of the Year’ Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

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William Byron made it back-to-back victories, capturing Sunday’s Toyota Owners 150 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series event at a virtual Richmond Raceway.

There were only two leaders in the 150-lap race: Ryan Preece led the first 59 laps, while Byron set the pace for the final 95 laps.

Timmy Hill finished second, continuing his run of success in the series as the only driver to have top-three finishes in each of the first four races, including a win at Texas three weeks back.

Hill couldn’t get close enough to Byron to do a bump-and-run on the last lap as he did to win at virtual Texas.

Finishing third through fifth were NASCAR On NBC analyst Parker Kligerman, Landon Cassill and Kyle Busch.

Sixth through 10th were Homestead winner Denny Hamlin. Erik Jones, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bubba Wallace and Brad Keselowski.

MORE: Race results

Even a late caution with three laps left following a significant crash that included Ryan Blaney and several other drivers did not rattle Byron, who is one of the most successful drivers on the iRacing platforms.

Byron got a great jump on the restart and held on to take the checkered flag.

“Probably not, honestly,” Byron told FOX Sports when asked if he’d even be in NASCAR if it hadn’t been for all his iRacing experience. “I wasn’t in a racing family growing up, so this was really the avenue to cut my teeth in, obviously a much different way than most guys.”

After originally announcing a field of 26 drivers, the lineup was expanded and a last chance qualifier was added Sunday. Transferring to the main event were NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Labonte (substituting for Martin Truex Jr.), Dale Earnhardt Jr., Landon Cassill and Daniel Suarez.

While appreciative of being able to keep his skills sharp on the iRacing format, Byron is optimistic that real-life racing will return soon. NASCAR has stated it plans on running all 32 remaining Cup races. Sunday, five North Carolina senators urged the Gov. Roy Cooper to allow NASCAR to race at Charlotte Motor Speedway without fans. The next scheduled Cup races are the All-Star Race on May 16 and Coca-Cola 600 on May 24 at Charlotte.

NASCAR has also said it hopes to continue competition on the iRacing format even after real-life racing returns. Byron said he’d like to also see it, particularly during off-season.

“I think it’ll be interesting for sure,” Byron said. “Right now, this is working well, so we’ll just continue doing it until we get back

“It’d be cool to (continue online racing) during the offseason. There’s a lot of cool things we can do. I would enjoy doing that in the future, whether it’s NASCAR or whatever. Hopefully that will continue.”

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