May 24th, 2017 by Jason Lofing
Ray Alfalla won his second straight NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series race of 2017 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Tuesday night to move to the top of the series points race. The three-time series champion passed Taylor Hurst with 16 laps remaining, then held-off Cody Byus over the final laps to pick up the checkered flag. Alfalla led 108 of 200 laps and was the class of the field for most of the race. Byus was second at the checkers, 1.5 seconds behind the winner. Bobby Zalenski finished third after playing strategy to take the lead in the later stages, while polesitter Dylan Duval came home fourth as Hurst faded to fifth after losing the lead.
Alfalla wasted no time moving up from his fifth starting position and took the lead shortly after the initial start. However, Duval had the best car early and regained the lead from Alfalla on Lap 17. The pair continued to run one-two until both pitted for tires and fuel on Lap 39, handing the lead to Corey Vincent who chose to stay out longer before his stop.
When Vincent pitted and the pit cycle completed Alfalla returned to the point and this time he had a healthy gap on Duval and the rest of the field.
The second run was about as clean as the first except this time Alfalla dominated before he and Duval short-pitted a second time, handing Vincent the lead once again.
This time a caution flew before the cycle completed with Vincent in the lead. Meanwhile, Alfalla and Duval found themselves mired in traffic and would have to work to regain their track position.
On the Lap 97 restart Alfalla wasted little time regaining the lead from his third place starting position as he tried to distance himself from the rest of the field once again. Duval found the going a bit tougher and was mired in the back half of the top ten as passing proved difficult as the run wore on.
After a flurry of cautions many of the leaders decided to pit for fresh virtual rubber as tire wear was an issue despite the overcast conditions. Zalenski and some others stayed out while Alfalla, Duval, and erstwhile series point leader Ryan Luza all pitted and restarted outside the top 10.
Alfalla and Duval both started to charging forward but a massive crash swept up Luza, heavily damaging his car and relegating him to a thirty-second place finish. After the green flew again Alfalla’s four fresh tires allowed him to quickly move back to the front before yet another caution slowed the pace again.
This time, Alfalla was not untouchable on the short run as Hurst passed him on the outside with 21 laps to go. Alfalla was not to be denied though and fought back, retaking the lead for the final time on Lap 185 as Hurst’s car faded on the long run.
Alfalla’s victory vaulted him into the championship lead and he now leads Zalenski by seven points. Luza is third after his poor finish and now finds himself 31 points back of the lead. Darik Bourdeau and Logan Clampitt round out the top five.
Pocono Raceway is next up on the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series schedule and Alfalla will look to keep his momentum going as the series visits the Tricky Triangle. Can Luza recover from his poor finish at Charlotte, or will Alfalla continue to stretch his margin? Find out in two weeks’ time on iRacingLive!