July 9th, 2019 by Chris Leone
Only four rounds remain in the eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series regular season, making tonight’s race from Kentucky Speedway a pivotal one in the playoff chase. With limited chances remaining to secure a spot in the eight-driver championship field, the 40 drivers set to take the green flag tonight will need to bring their A game as the track returns to the series schedule for the first time since 2016.
G2 Esports’ Keegan Leahy enters tonight with the hot hand, having taken the championship lead from Flipsid3 Tactics’ Ryan Luza by two points after winning two weeks ago at Chicagoland Speedway. Leahy’s advantage is only two points, though, so a good night for the 2017 series champion could flip the lead right back; with wins at both Las Vegas and Texas, Luza is always a force on the intermediate ovals.
Behind them, you can throw a blanket over the rest of the playoff contenders. Luza is 33 points clear of third place Blake Reynolds of Team Dillon eSports, but only 28 points separate Reynolds from JTG Daugherty Racing’s Nick Ottinger in the final playoff position. Behind Ottinger, five drivers are within a race win’s worth of points of the cutoff, including Daytona runner-up Jimmy Mullis of Richmond Raceway eSports and Ottinger’s teammate Christian Challiner.
The second half of the season is also when the battle to automatically qualify for the 2020 season heats up. If you thought the playoff battle was tight, consider this: with 207 points, 16th place Malik Ray is only five clear of the cutoff, and only 20 clear of Ryan Lowe in 26th. A standout race for any of the midpack drivers at any point for the rest of the season could make the difference between knowing they’re back next year, or having to qualify through the Pro Series over the winter.
The eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series race from Kentucky Speedway will stream live at 9PM ET/6PM PT on the iRacing eSports Network on Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube. Following tonight’s race at Kentucky, the season will resume on July 23 with a visit to Pocono Raceway.
Driver Profile: Michael Conti
One of the eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series’ most familiar faces, Conti is already in his eighth full season at iRacing’s highest level at only 21 years old. The third overall pick in this year’s Driver Draft by JR Motorsports, Conti won three races on the way to the 2014 championship, and finished third in last year’s championship standings.
While he’s still searching for his first win of the season, the Concord-based Conti is well within the playoff hunt at fifth in the championship standings. With two poles and three top fives on the season, the latest coming two weeks ago at Chicagoland—not to mention a runner-up finish the last time Kentucky was on the schedule in 2016—he’s likely one of the favorites to score a victory tonight.