March 3rd, 2021 by Chris Leone
When the cards were laid down in the closing laps of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series’ return to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Spacestation Gaming’s Malik Ray went all in, but XSET’s Ryan Luza ended the hand with all the poker chips.
We’ll spare you too much more of the analogy, but it was Luza who played his cards perfectly in the third round of the 2021 season to take his first win of the year, and fourth at this track in the past five years. The former series champion and his team called the right pit strategy, getting back onto the lead lap on fresh tires and eventually reclaiming the lead after pitting under green flag conditions. Ray tried his best to hang on and save fuel while hoping for a caution to either lock in his track position or give him a chance to pit and come back through the field on fresh tires, but he lost the top spot with six laps to go while in conservation mode.
“I was terrified of a yellow,” admitted Luza. “We were just sitting there praying for no yellow, because we were confident that no one could make it, and I was hoping that Steven (Wilson) would kind of stall out when our tires evened out, and he did. Luckily, the caution didn’t come out.
“It’s such a huge relief to have a win and be in the playoffs now. I’ve been stressing about it every week, because we’ve been missing speed, but we were pretty quick tonight. It’s really great to not have so much stress on the line, because we’re locked in now. So now it’s just coming out and trying to win more races.”
Not many people probably would’ve taken the bet that the second half of the race would go green to the finish, after the first six cautions of the entire season flew in the first 69 laps. But after early incidents that eliminated top veterans like Ray Alfalla and Garrett Lowe and promising rookies like Mitchell deJong and Isaac Gann alike from winning contention, the field calmed down for the later stages, and got to Lap 134 without the need for overtime.
Roush Fenway Racing’s Steven Wilson finished second, the best performance of his rookie campaign so far, while XSET’s Casey Kirwan, Jim Beaver eSports’ Caine Cook, and Wilson’s teammate Nathan Lyon completed the top five. On the other side of the coin, Williams Esports’ Jake Matheson and Clint Bowyer Racing’s Blade Whitt each tried to follow Ray’s strategy of getting to the finish without an extra pit stop, but each would lead just one lap out of the final six before needing to pull off.
Results from Tuesday’s eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway were as follows:
|1||9||4||Ryan Michael Luza||Ford||134||46||29.645||40|
|19||7||10||Graham A. Bowlin||Ford||134||-16.693||0||29.683||18|
|25||3||3||Corey Vincent||Chevrolet||133||-1 L||5||29.732||12|
|26||39||52||Jake Matheson||Ford||133||-1 L||1||29.760||11|
|27||32||14||Blade Whitt||Ford||133||-1 L||1||29.795||10|
|28||13||67||Allen Boes||Chevrolet||133||-1 L||0||29.679||9|
|29||14||90||Zack Novak||Toyota||133||-1 L||0||29.761||8|
|30||24||77||Bob Bryant||Chevrolet||133||-1 L||0||29.826||7|
|31||31||11||Malik Ray||Ford||133||-1 L||26||29.610||6|
|32||1||46||Jimmy Mullis||Toyota||133||-1 L||7||29.729||5|
|33||27||8||Michael Conti||Chevrolet||133||-1 L||0||29.781||4|
|34||26||44||Isaac Gann||Chevrolet||132||-2 L||0||29.745||3|
|35||11||51||Ray Alfalla||Toyota||130||-4 L||0||29.674||2|
|36||30||2||Garrett Manes||Toyota||126||-8 L||0||29.813||1|
|37||36||79||Ryan Doucette||Ford||101||-33 L||0||29.715||1|
|38||2||23||Mitchell deJong||Toyota||83||-51 L||0||29.724||1|
|39||37||21||Garrett Lowe||Ford||72||-62 L||0||29.608||1|
|40||4||41||Dylan Duval||Ford||60||-74 L||0||29.705||1|
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series driver points through three rounds are as follows:
- Casey Kirwan, 88
- Keegan Leahy, 80 (1 win)
- Ryan Luza, 76 (1 win)
- Chris Shearburn, 76
- Corey Vincent, 76
- Jake Nichols, 75
- Femi Olat, 74
- Michael Guest, 73
- Michael Conti, 71
- Logan Clampitt, 68
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series team points through three rounds are as follows:
- XSET, 164
- Team Dillon Esports, 138
- Letarte Esports, 136
- 23XI, 133
- Mode Motorsports, 129
- William Byron eSports, 127
- Jim Beaver eSports, 126
- JR Motorsports, 125
- Roush Fenway Racing, 124
- Kligerman Sports, 105
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series is back in action on March 16 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where four-time series champion Alfalla took the checkered flag last year. Coverage will kick off at 8:30PM ET with iRacing Countdown to Green, while the race will begin at 9PM ET on eNASCAR.com/live, iRacing.com/live, and NASCAR and iRacing social media channels.