The eNASCAR Coca Cola iRacing Series returned to action on Friday night (May 29) for Round 8 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This series typically runs on Tuesdays, but the race was rescheduled to tonight due to schedule conflicts with NASCAR and their recent races at Charlotte.
Four-time champion Ray Alfalla of Team VRS scored his first victory in nearly two years, since his 2018 championship season at Homestead-Miami. It wasn’t an easy win, though having to come from 12th on the final green-flag run to drive back to the front with just over 30 laps to go.
Tires were a huge factor in tonight’s event. Pitting five laps later than the leaders at the time Keegan Leahy and Michael Conti on the final green-flag stop proved to be the race-winning move for Alfalla. The win was the 25th of his career in the eNASCAR Series to go along with his four titles.
“Holy cow, we’re back in victory lane! Every time I win, I think it’s gonna be my last one,” Alfalla joked in his post-race interview. “I’ve been the same driver I’ve always been, it’s just been the cars…it’s fun when you have a good car, and tonight we had a good car.”
— Ray Alfalla (@rayalfalla) May 30, 2020
Keister picked up right where he left off last week at Charlotte early on as he led the opening 38 laps until a caution involving Matt Bussa and Brandon Kettelle would put him back to third. But Keister did get to the lead shortly after the restart on lap 41. Eventually, he faded through the pack but still finished sixth when all was said and done.
The race that started so calm would turn chaotic quickly with three cautions in the course of 18 laps, including “The Big One” on lap 57 that took out at least seven drivers. Graham Bowlin, Malik Ray, Santiago Torres and Steve Sheehan would be just a few of the contenders who were taken out.
Very unfortunate. https://t.co/QKx36INWTT
— Graham A. Bowlin (@BowlinGraham) May 30, 2020
However, with the many restarts, strategy would still come into play. Veterans Nick Ottinger and Alfalla flexed their muscle after battling for the race lead near halfway. Alfalla has visibly struggled for the last season and a half, but proved tonight he was ready to end his winless streak.
Garrett Lowe picked up yet another runner-up finish in his Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 machine, catapulting him to a top three points position. When asked about what he needed to get to Alfalla, Lowe responded with, “Draft. This package comes down to draft, sadly, but we had a bad fast Wood Brothers/ Spin Mustang.”
Caine Cook, Chris Shearburn and Leahy would round out the top-five positions in the race. Leahy would also take over the points lead. Former points leader Ryan Luza started back in 31st and was involved in a mid-race wreck that relegated him to a 34th-place finish.