June 26th, 2019 by Jason Lofing
Keegan Leahy earned his second trip to victory lane in the 2019 eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series season after completing a dominating effort at Chicagoland Speedway. The win also saw the G2 eSports driver take the points lead from Flipsid3 Tactics’ Ryan Luza.
Corey Vincent brought his Renegades Ford home second, narrowly beating Joe Gibbs Racing’s Bobby Zalenski in a tight, side-by-side battle for the spot. Luza finished fourth, some 11 seconds behind, while JR Motorsports’ Michael Conti completed the top five positions.
Coming off of a dominant victory two weeks ago at Sonoma Raceway, Zalenski started on pole, but could not lead the first lap as Williams Esports’ Matt Bussa used momentum from the high groove to just beat Zalenski to the stripe. Bussa would go on to lead the first five laps before the first and only caution of the day brought nearly every car to the pits, with Dylan Duval the lone driver who chose to stay on the track to go from 22nd to the lead. The multi-car wreck that brought out the caution impacted a number of playoff contenders, including Burton Kligerman Esports’ Logan Clampitt.
On the restart, Duval was no match for the fresh tires on the cars behind, as Bussa retook the lead in less than a lap. Four laps later, Luza joined the fray and passed Bussa for the lead and looked to break away. While Luza did temporarily get away, Leahy was working traffic and had made his way to the second position.
Leahy started fourth, but didn’t show his strength until the first long run of the race when he took the lead from Luza on Lap 32. Clearly the best long run car early, Leahy pulled ahead of everyone to hold a comfortable lead heading into the first round of green flag pit stops.
Luza and Vincent pitted on Lap 50, four laps before Leahy. The undercut gave the pair some temporary track position, but Leahy used his slightly fresher tires to his advantage and made quick work of them. He passed Luza on Lap 58 to once again assume the lead after all pit stops were finished.
Leahy continued to build his lead in the next run as it became clear nobody had anything for the #62 Camaro. He pitted for the final time on Lap 96 and got back to work, laying down blazing fast laps and lapping up to 21st position by the checkers. The best battle up front in the closing laps was between Zalenski and Vincent, who never could separate much during the last run and were side-by-side multiple times. Zalenski appeared to have the faster car at the end, but fell just short of taking the runner-up spot.
Leahy’s win moved him into the championship lead, a scant two points ahead of Luza. Blake Reynolds is third, 35 points back, after a ninth place result at Chicagoland. Garrett Lowe is fourth, and Conti sits fifth, matching his finishing position in the race.
Kentucky Speedway is next up on the schedule, and while it shares the same distance as Chicagoland, the two tracks are quite different with Kentucky featuring a much bumpier surface and flatter corners. The last time the series visited Kentucky was 2016, and many of the current front runners had yet to make their first start. This should make for an unpredictable affair as drivers continue to jockey for the eight playoff positions. Be sure to catch the action from Kentucky in two weeks on the iRacing eSports Network!