By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – ‘Sim to Reality’ became very real for Parker Retzlaff after the 19-year-old earned his career-best NASCAR Xfinity Series finish in his first start for Jordan Anderson Racing at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
The former eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series driver and current Xfinity Series rookie went through the ringer in a wild Saturday night race.
Retzlaff lost the draft after he got hit entering pit road during green flag pit stops, but a timely caution kept his No. 31 FUNKAWAY Chevrolet Camaro SS on the lead lap.
The Rhinelander, Wis., native then followed a train of Chevrolet drivers forward. That positioned Retzlaff just outside the top-five in the running order before the penultimate caution of the race. He narrowly avoided the race-ending melee (which saw Sam Mayer flip upside down) in overtime while pushing eventual winner Austin Hill.
After NASCAR reviewed video of the last lap, Retzlaff was credited with a fourth-place finish.
“Yeah (it was just like B-Fixed on iRacing), the whole race was wild,” Retzlaff explained. “I lost the pack during green flag pit stops. I got hit on pit road entry, lost a bunch of time. That yellow came out at a perfect time for me. I got back with the pack, and I started near the back, and I was just going hard at the start of the green there.
“We got a yellow and then they were just going even harder. I got into the back of [Anthony] Alfredo by accident, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It’s crazy to start the year like this in the Xfinity Series.”
While Retzlaff has a lengthy real-life resume, he also has found success on iRacing. Much of that success has come in the ‘B-Fixed’ car, which are virtual versions of the Xfinity Series machines.
Though the draft in the real-life in the Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. 300 was reminiscent to that of iRacing’s models, it still wasn’t exactly what Retzlaff expected. He found there to be much more strategy in real-life.
The racing was wilder and more intense than what the ‘sim to reality’ alumni anticipated.
“(iRacing) has the Cup car really good with the side-drafting,” Retzlaff stated. “The Xfinity car needs to have that; it makes the racing really good. There’s more strategy put into it, but it was definitely a wild race.
“It was all new to me. I’ve never done this (racing in the Xfinity Series on a superspeedway). Before we went green, I had never done any of it.”
The fourth-place finish comes in Retzlaff’s 10th career start in the Xfinity Series. It is also his second career top 10, as well as just the fourth top-five result in the history of Jordan Anderson Racing in the Xfinity Series.
Team owner Jordan Anderson, NASCAR Cup Series driver Tyler Reddick, and former JAR full-timer Myatt Snider account for the team’s previous top-five finishes.
The top five ultimately leaves Retzlaff tied for sixth in points with teammate Jeb Burton and Snider, the former driver of the No. 31. In the rookie point standings, Retzlaff is just one point behind preseason rookie-of-the-year favorite Chandler Smith.
Next for Retzlaff is the Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Saturday, Feb. 25. The race will be broadcast on FS1, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.