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.
The 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!
|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|
|12||18||Ashton Crowder||134||0||Running||Burton Kligerman eSports|
|13||30||Jake Nichols||134||0||Running||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|18||27||Casey Kirwan||134||0||Running||Clint Bowyer Racing|
|19||25||Benjamin W. Nelson||134||0||Running||N/A|
|24||32||Eric J. Smith||134||0||Running||N/A|
|28||35||Nickolas Shelton||134||0||Running||Clint Bowyer Racing|
|29||26||Chris Overland||134||0||Running||Wood Brothers|
|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|
|40||24||Malik Ray||58||0||DNF||Richmond Raceway|