DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In a field of more than 300 competitors, Jimmy Mullis was the fastest man in town Friday night at the virtual Daytona Int’l Speedway.
Mullis secured the pole position for the third annual Podium 500, coming out on top at the World Center of Racing after four hours of single-car time trials.
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series driver for Richmond Raceway eSports piloted the No. 46 Sunoco Toyota Camry to the best lap among the loaded lineup of drivers, with a time of 47.837 seconds (188.139 mph) around the 2.5-mile superspeedway doing the job.
By timing among the top two in Podium 500 qualifying, Mullis locked in a front-row starting spot for Sunday’s 500-mile feature and will lead the 43-car field to green for the $1,000-to-win main event.
“I knew it was a strong lap for sure, but I didn’t honestly think it was the pole run,” Mullis told SPEED SPORT. “I know for a fact that I left everything it had in that lap, though, for sure. It’s a point of pride to have the pole for this one and I’m excited going into Sunday.”
While Mullis was pleased with his pole run, he was quick to point out it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s in a better position for Sunday than he would have been if he’d landed a starting spot deeper in the field.
“I think (winning the pole) is more of a morale boost, for sure, but obviously it’s key to keep yourself up toward the front all day and I’m sitting in a pretty good spot to do that now,” Mullis added. “The draft is super powerful, so it’s going to be a chess match trying to stay up there all day, but I believe we have a car that can do that and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to do just that.”
Mullis will be joined on the front row Sunday by Brandon Hauff, who qualified second fastest in the No. 9 Grit Motorsports Marketing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and was just .001 seconds off of the pole-winning time.
Hauff’s lap of 47.838 seconds (188.135 mph) was good enough to give him the outside pole for one of the biggest non-sanctioned oval events on the iRacing simulation platform.
“I hate that we missed the pole by .001 seconds), but an outside pole start in a field of more than 340 entries still isn’t too shabby,” noted Hauff after qualifying wrapped up.
Times were so tight on Friday night that more than 300 of the drivers entered were within four tenths of a second of the pole position at the end of the time trial window.
The remaining starting spots in the Podium 500 field will be determined through a full slate of preliminary action, which begins with heat races Saturday afternoon, continues with last chance qualifiers and is capped by twin Duel qualifiers Saturday night.
After the Duels, the 43-car field – including a handful of provisional starters – will be set for Sunday’s race, which will be broadcast live on the Podium eSports Twitch channel.
Coverage of the third annual Podium 500 begins Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET.