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Luza Holds Off Novak at Las Vegas

Ryan Luza and Flipside3 tactics visited victory lane for the first time in the 2019 eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series season, holding off Roush Fenway Racing’s Zack Novak on the final ten-lap sprint to the finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Luza dominated the second half of the race after starting eleventh, pacing the field for 79 of 134 laps. Novak had a strong long run car but the overcast weather during the closing laps appeared to favor Luza more as Novak was unable to make a move on the leader.

“Zack was extremely fast. I think (we) were the two to beat on the long run,” said Luza.

Logan Clampitt ran strong early in his Burton Kligerman Esports Toyota, but his long run speed was not quite on part with Luza and Novak and he slipped to third at the checkers. The battle for fourth was tight as Bobby Zalenski and Joe Gibbs racing narrowly beat the G2 Esports Chevrolet of Keegan Leahy to the line as five different teams were represented in the top five finishing positions.

Iracing Las VegasThe race started with JR Motorsports’ Brad Davies on pole, but his lead was short-lived as Clampitt passed him on Lap 12. Davies would later be involved in a crash and the subsequent damage relegated him to a thirty-third place result.

Clampitt continued to lead the first stint but as the run wore on Novak and Luza began to close in. By the time pit stops were imminent on Lap 44, Clampitt’s lead had evaporated and, to make matters worse, Luza pitted with him and beat Clampitt off pit road.

With Luza assuming the lead after the pit cycle, the former series champion looked to pull away from the rest of the field. By halfway Luza had built a one-second cushion back to Clampitt with Novak a more distant third due to pitting later than the front two.

Novak finally caught and overtook Clampitt on Lap 81 as the second green flag stop neared. However, a wreck involving Davies along with Jarl Teien, Dylan Duval, and Ray Alfalla brought out the first yellow flag of the event only a few laps before the pit window opened.

The caution brought the whole field to pit road and Luza’s pit crew held serve as exiting comfortably in front of Clampitt and Novak. When the race returned to green Luza used the cooler track to his advantage, pulling away from Novak and leaving him to battle for second. Just when Luza looked to be cruising to a win, a caution on Lap 121 potentially would throw a wrench into his plans.

While most of the lead-lap cars pitted for four fresh tires and adjustments, Luza’s teammate Timmy Hill remained on track. Others, including Alfalla and Casey Kirwan, changed only right-side tires to gain track position. Hill severely spun his tires on the restart which allowed Luza, who restarted second, to easily regain the lead. Novak restarted fourth behind Luza and was also able to clear Hill before Turn One. With the pack bunched up behind Hill something had to give, and it finally did off Turn Two when Hill and Alfalla made contact. Somehow everyone kept their cars straight, but the damage was done; Alfalla fell to thirty-fourth, Hill thirty-fifth.

A new aero package will debut in the Week Three event at Auto Club Speedway which features less horsepower and more downforce, mimicking the rule changes in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series. The package should, in theory, produce closer racing with more parity and it will be interesting to see which teams find speed first. Can Luza and Novak continue their hot start to 2019 or will the new package level the playing field? Be sure to tune into the iRacing eSports Network on March 12 to find out!

Results

Fin St Driver Laps Laps Led Status Team
1 11 Ryan Michael Luza 134 79 Running Flipside Tactics
2 2 Zack Novak 134 2 Running Roush Fenway Racing
3 6 Logan Clampitt 134 32 Running Burton Kligerman eSports
4 14 Bobby Zalenski 134 0 Running Joe Gibbs Racing
5 4 Keegan Leahy 134 0 Running G2 eSports
6 21 Michael Guest 134 0 Running Roush Fenway Racing
7 10 Matt Bussa 134 0 Running Williams F1
8 13 Michael Conti 134 0 Running Jr Motorsports
9 17 Jimmy Mullis 134 0 Running Richmond Raceway eSports
10 12 Christian Challiner 134 0 Running JTG
11 3 Nick Ottinger 134 0 Running JTG
12 18 Ashton Crowder 134 0 Running Burton Kligerman eSports
13 30 Jake Nichols 134 0 Running Joe Gibbs Racing
14 19 Corey Vincent 134 0 Running Renegades
15 33 Casey Tucker 134 0 Running N/A
16 39 Garrett Lowe 134 0 Running Renegades
17 38 Phillip Diaz 134 0 Running N/A
18 27 Casey Kirwan 134 0 Running Clint Bowyer Racing
19 25 Benjamin W. Nelson 134 0 Running N/A
20 16 Cody Byus 134 0 Running N/A
21 23 Blake Reynolds 134 0 Running N/A
22 40 Ryan Lowe 134 0 Running N/A
23 28 Adam Benefiel 134 0 Running N/A
24 32 Eric J. Smith 134 0 Running N/A
25 36 Logan Kress 134 0 Running N/A
26 20 Chris Shearburn 134 0 Running N/A
27 22 Caine Cook 134 0 Running N/A
28 35 Nickolas Shelton 134 0 Running Clint Bowyer Racing
29 26 Chris Overland 134 0 Running Wood Brothers
30 7 Nathan Lyon 134 0 Running N/A
31 34 Michael Guariglia 134 0 Running N/A
32 15 Taylor Hurst 134 1 Running N/A
33 1 Brad Davies 134 11 Running JR Motorsports
34 8 Ray Alfalla 134 2 Running Wood Brothers
35 37 Timmy Hill 134 2 Running Flipside Tactics
36 31 Brandon Hayse Kettelle 133 5 Running N/A
37 5 Jarl Teien 133 0 Running G2 eSports
38 9 Brian Schoenburg 100 0 DNF Williams F1
39 29 Dylan Duval 88 0 Running N/A
40 24 Malik Ray 58 0 DNF Richmond Raceway