September 11th, 2019 by Jason Lofing No Comments
Renegades’ Corey Vincent dramatically won his first eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series race of 2019, taking the victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as Blake Reynolds ran out of fuel coming to the checkered flag. Vincent swerved to the outside as Reynolds blocked Casey Kirwan on the frontstretch, narrowly avoiding the incident and crossing the yard of bricks first for his first victory since 2016.
Reynolds, who made a late charge to the front as everyone was saving fuel, looked poised to lock himself into the Championship Four before he ran out less than a mile from the finish. As his car began to sputter, he tried blocking Kirwan and the two made contact, sending cars behind scattering.
Reynolds, with his extra momentum from the contact with Kirwan, finished second. Keegan Leahy was third after leading 40 of 80 laps. Ryan Lowe came home fourth, ahead of Kirwan, who managed to hold onto fifth despite heavy contact with the inside wall.
Jimmy Mullis started on pole, but didn’t even lead a lap before Ryan Luza overtook him from his second starting position. Luza looked to set the pace early but could not hold off Leahy who for the second week in a row had the field covered on the long run.
Leahy went on to lead the rest of the first run and extended his lead to nearly five seconds before pitting for tires and fuel on Lap 28. He returned to the front after an extended pit stop cycle and continued to maintain a comfortable lead until the only caution of the race flew on Lap 43 when Brian Schoenburg spun Caine Cook.
The caution brought the leaders to pit road, with Leahy’s crew holding serve on the stop. However, all the leaders were short on fuel and would have to save in order to make it to the end. Further back, several drivers decided to pit with one to green, hoping an extra splash of fuel would make the difference.
When the race went green again, varying strategies started to unfold. Bobby Zalenski jumped to the lead and pulled away from the field as most drivers, including Vincent and Leahy, chose to save fuel. As the laps wound down, drivers started to save harder, causing many close calls as drivers with more fuel had to dodge others who were lifting early into the corners.
With 10 laps to go, Leahy surged to the lead as Zalenski started to back up in full save mode. Zalenski could not save enough though, and had to pit with two remaining, falling to 36th at the finish. Michael Conti also had to pit during the last run and only could recover to 30th.
Leahy had to save more fuel than Vincent and Reynolds, and couldn’t hold either of them off as he just missed out on locking himself into the title fight at Homestead. But even missing out on the win, Leahy carries the point lead into the final race of the first playoff round. He leads the standings by 11 over Zack Novak, who lacked speed for most of the race but still salvaged a 17th place result. Garrett Lowe and Reynolds are tied for third and occupy the final transfer spots to Homestead. Luza is fifth, 13 points back, followed by Conti (17 points behind the cut line), Mullis (25 points), and Zalenski (28 points).
Drivers below the cut line will have one more race to change their fortune; the debut of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. Zalenski and Conti are both extremely strong on the road courses and need a win to ensure their place in the Championship Four. Who will make the final four and battle for the title at Homestead? Find out in two weeks on the iRacing eSports Network!