By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
The journey for iRacer Adam Cabot from viewer to Monday Night Racing (MNR) competitor has been a whirlwind experience.
Cabot discovered the iRacing league on Reddit. He watched a video of NASCAR Cup Series driver’s Dale Earnhardt-like drive to win the Season 2 opener at Talladega Superspeedway. Cabot entered the eSports Racing League (ERL), run by Anthony Alfredo. ERL offered the champion an opportunity to compete in Monday Night Racing presented by NAPA Know How. Cabot won the championship.
“The first time I heard of Monday Night Racing was last year when Kyle Busch won the MNR race at Talladega,” explained Cabot. “I saw a video clip of the crazy finish on Reddit. I remember thinking how cool it was that there was a league that a lot of real-world drivers regularly competed in.”
Although Cabot is new to MNR, he is a veteran on the iRacing Motorsports Simulation service. He first subscribed to the online sim over 10 years ago. Despite his tenure on iRacing, he never expected to be competing regularly with real-life pros and motorsports media members on a week-to-week basis.
“I’ve been an iRacing member for over 10 years now, so I’m used to competing against a lot of the real-world guys who are also sim racing enthusiasts,” stated Cabot. “To be regularly competing against so many pros from real world disciplines is certainly something I never imagined happening.”
Among the pros that Cabot is now competing with regularly are two-time Cup Series champion Busch, Cup drivers Alfredo, Garrett Smithley, Josh Bilicki, and James Davison. Also in MNR are NASCAR Xfinity Series competitors Robby Lyons, Will Rodgers, and Ryan Vargas, as well as ARCA Menards Series’ Rajah Caruth and Nick Sanchez. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver and NASCAR on NBC pit road reporter Parker Kligerman also competed in MNR.
Drivers from other disciplines also competing in MNR are NTT IndyCar Series’ Stefan Wilson, Repco Supercars’ Shane van Gisbergen, NHRA’s Ron Capps, motocross legend Chad Reed, and more.
Cabot had a spirited battle with Busch in the virtual Pro 2 Trucks at the virtual Watkins Glen International. The duo traded third place back and forth throughout the 40-lap race.
The iRacing veteran then survived the attrition in the Indiana 500k. In the virtual IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Cabot maneuvered his way to battle with Lyons for the win. His virtual No. 17 Lawn Tech / Simply The Best Lawns / Simply The Best Pest Control Dallara narrowly beat Lyons to the line. 0.072 seconds separated the duo in the double points race.
“Getting to battle with Kyle Busch at Watkins Glen was certainly a moment I’ll never forget,” admitted Cabot. “A lot of pro drivers are also sim racers, but it’s not every day you get to compete against the winningest driver in NASCAR history. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little star struck and nervous going wheel to wheel with Kyle.
“My season is off to a better start than I could have ever imagined. I felt optimistic that I would be competitive right off the bat. While I’m new to MNR, I’m certainly not new to iRacing. I’ve probably been a member longer than just about anyone in the MNR field. Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the chance to race against and learn from a lot of very talented iRacers in the Virtual Racing League and Outsiders Racing League.”
Despite the early season win in MNR, the road to that win was nothing short of expedient. It was a little over two months ago that Cabot participated in ERL. The journey from the qualifier series to his first win topped his expectations.
“It would be an understatement to say that MNR has more than exceeded my expectations,” stated Cabot. “There was only a 2-month timespan between the day I decided to compete in the ERL Qualifier series and the day I won the MNR Indy 500k. All of this developed so quicky and none of it has really sunk in yet. Everyone at MNR has welcomed me with open arms and the racing has been a blast. I really couldn’t be happier.”
Despite only a two-month whirlwind journey, Cabot has kept his goals in check. Each week, he’s focused on earning the trust of the real-life pros and media members that he’s competing with on track. Cabot’s determined to make a good first impression while also running competitively.
“I’m slowly familiarizing myself with the driving styles and personalities of the guys I race around every week,” continued Cabot. “It’s always tough joining a new league and not knowing anyone and having to start from scratch. I’ve been focusing on trying to build trust with my competitors, so they feel comfortable around me on and off the track. Trying to balance that while pushing hard and trying to run up front can be tough at times. You only get one chance at a first impression.”
MNR’s schedule tests each sim racer’s skills. The league has a wide variety of car and track combos. For tracks, this season features big and short ovals, road courses and dirt. MNR’s use of NASCAR, IndyCar, and sports cars, brings out the best of each driver. The MNR schedule prevents any one driver from having a season-long advantage over the rest of the field.
Cabot views that MNR’s variety is helping him become a well-rounded driver on iRacing.
“The biggest thing MNR has helped me with is becoming a more well-rounded driver,” said Cabot. “As someone who mostly races stock cars around paved ovals, the diversity of the MNR car and track lineup is a much-welcomed challenge. Then throw in a lineup of some very talented and experienced drivers, I’m sure my skills will continue to improve.”
The next MNR event on the calendar is the virtual Mazda MX-5s at Lime Rock Park on June 7. However, Cabot is looking forward to another race. Locked into the MNR playoffs via his win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he’s excited for the regular season finale. Monday July 5 will see the virtual NASCAR Xfinity Series cars at Chicagoland Speedway.
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