September 9th, 2020 by Chris Leone
17 years ago at Darlington Raceway, a driver from the northeastern corner of North America found himself in victory lane with an orange and white #32 car, taking a statement victory in one of the crown jewel races of the NASCAR Cup Series season.
History repeated itself on Tuesday night in the virtual world—although there was considerably less damage to the winning machine this time, and the decisive pass actually came on pit road.
Driving Ricky Craven’s iconic Tide colors, Keegan Leahy took the top spot from Michael Conti with a better pit stop during the first caution and never looked back, scoring his third win of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season. Leahy, Conti, and Nick Ottinger ran in that order for much of the night, as drivers throughout the field struggled to make passes and most of the major shuffles in the pack came as a result of incidents.
Seven cautions for 33 laps slowed the pace, but after four-time series champion Ray Alfalla took contact to spin from a top-10 spot, the final 43 laps of the race went uninterrupted by yellow flags. The Lady in Black didn’t discriminate among her victims on Tuesday night, as fellow series champion Zack Novak, 2019 Championship 4 qualifier Blake Reynolds, and multi-time series winner Casey Kirwan all got caught up in the carnage, and veteran drivers like Matt Bussa and Brian Schoenburg saw their races come to an end before they really began.
But whether they crossed the finish line without a scratch, all used up, or with just a Darlington stripe for their troubles, the nearly 30 drivers who hit the track with throwback paint schemes took a NASCAR tradition and extended it beautifully to sim racing. Leahy, Alfalla, Bobby Zalenski, and Graham Bowlin gave 2003 plenty of love among the front-runners, but from tributes to eNASCAR team owners Clint Bowyer, William Byron, Jon Wood, and Austin Dillon to 1990s classics on the cars of Conti, Chris Shearburn, and Logan Clampitt, this year’s crop of throwback rides managed to touch most eras of the sport.
Full results from eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series action at Darlington Raceway were as follows:
|7||21||53||Ryan Michael Luza||Ford||184||0||-4.990||27.109||34|
|25||19||18||Graham A. Bowlin||Toyota||184||0||-16.590||27.366||16|
|28||29||9||Eric J. Smith||Ford||184||0||-18.189||27.245||13|
|30||24||14||Brandon Hayse Kettelle||Ford||184||0||-22.763||27.333||11|
|32||5||23||Casey Kirwan||Toyota||183||0||-1 L||27.238||9|
|33||34||33||Michael Guest||Chevrolet||171||0||-13 L||27.412||8|
|34||20||90||Zack Novak||Toyota||137||0||-47 L||27.546||7|
|35||35||54||Alex McCollum||Chevrolet||79||0||-105 L||27.365||6|
|36||26||79||Brian Schoenburg||Ford||62||0||-122 L||27.713||5|
|37||15||5||Matt Bussa||Ford||37||0||-147 L||27.507||4|
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series point standings after 14 rounds are as follows:
- Bobby Zalenski, 446
- Keegan Leahy, 444
- Garrett Lowe, 414
- Michael Conti, 405
- Ryan Luza, 404
- Nick Ottinger, 399
- Logan Clampitt, 381
- Ray Alfalla, 367
- Brad Davies, 347
- Corey Vincent, 345
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season resumes in two weeks’ time at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. As always, the race can be seen live at 9PM ET at eNASCAR.com/live and on the iRacing Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube pages. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit www.iracing.com.