September 25th, 2019 by Jason Lofing
Title race from Homestead-Miami to air October 10 at 5PM ET on NBCSN
Bobby Zalenski came into the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval needing a win to advance to the 2019 eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series Championship Four. Not only did Zalenski win, he dominated, leading every one of the race’s 65 laps from the pole in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Zalenski quickly sprinted away from the field at the drop of the green flag and was never challenged for the lead.
Michael Conti, who finished second, could keep pace on worn tires, but Zalenski was so strong on fresh tires that he was long gone before the lap times began to equalize. Conti also needed to win to advance but came up one position short in his JR Motorsports Chevrolet, missing out on transferring by 10 points.
Nick Ottinger finished third, more than 19 seconds back, closely followed by Logan Clampitt in fourth. G2 eSports’ Keegan Leahy rounded out the top five and easily transferred into the Championship Four.
Leahy and Zalenski are joined in the Championship Four by Roush Fenway Racing’s Zack Novak, who only finished 15th at the Roval. However, he has looked extremely strong on the downforce tracks in 2019 and is likely Leahy’s strongest competition for the title.
The battle for the final transfer spot was the most compelling. With Zalenski’s victory looking all but certain the fourth position came down to Blake Reynolds and Garrett Lowe, who entered Charlotte tied in the points standings. Lowe qualified 10th, with Reynolds directly behind in 12th, and the pair were inseparable for most of the race.
Lowe held off Reynolds’ challenge during the first half, but Reynolds chose to short pit on Lap 39, hoping that changing tires a lap earlier would give him the advantage over Lowe. The strategy worked and Reynolds emerged ahead of Lowe after his Lap 40 stop in response to the undercut. Lowe had the faster car and slightly fresher tires and quickly ran down Reynolds, looking for a place to pass. Lowe found an opportunity on Lap 51 and the two raced side-by-side into the infield section, but Reynolds held him off.
Later in the lap, Lowe again challenged for the position, this time on the exit of the backstretch chicane. Lowe pulled to the outside of Reynolds moved up and the two made contact on the exit of the oval Turn 4. The contact pushed Lowe wide and he was unable to stop for the chicane. The resulting slow down penalty cost him several seconds and left him unable to challenge Reynolds, who finished ninth to earn the final Championship Four position.
With the final four set, only one race remains as the 2019 season concludes at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Leahy goes into the last race as the favorite, as his speed on long runs has been head and shoulders above the field in the past several races. Novak and Zalenski have shown race-winning pace in 2019 as well and will look to keep pace with Leahy. Reynolds is the only one of the four who has not won a race, but owns the best average finish of the bunch and should not be counted out.
Who will be crowned 2019 eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series Champion and win the largest prize in series history? Find out in two weeks as the 2019 season wraps up in Miami! Be sure to tune in to NBCSN’s NASCAR America on Thursday, October 10 at 5PM ET to watch drivers compete for their share of a championship prize pool worth over $100,000.
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