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2020 TReSports ePreview: Wood Brothers Racing

EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the second installment of the 2020 TReSports ePreview! The 2020 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series kicks off on February 11th, 2020, at the virtual Daytona International Speedway. The goal is to have a preview for each team out before that date.

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Chris Overland and Garrett Lowe will drive for Wood Brothers Gaming in 2020. Logos and Numbers from Wood Brothers Racing / Wood Brothers Gaming, and Chris Overland.

In the NASCAR Cup Series, the Wood Brothers Racing team will field their iconic one-car operation with Matt DiBenedetto behind the wheel of the famed No. 21 Ford Mustang.

In the eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series, the Wood Brothers will be fielding two cars in the 2020 season.

One of the twelve original teams that participated in the 2019 eNASCAR iRacing draft, Wood Brothers Gaming returns to the series in 2020, seeking improvement from a season where nothing seemed to go right for either driver they had drafted.

With Ray Alfalla leaving to join the Virtual Racing School team in 2020, Garrett Lowe was tapped to drive the No. 21 Ford Mustang in 2020, making his move over from his 2019 team, the Renegades.

“It was more of a NASCAR connection, and I feel like going with Wood Brothers Racing, they’re kind of more involved with motorsports on my side of things, where I’m concerned in terms of real life racing,” Lowe said.

“Also, it’s the famed 21 car… it’s historic in NASCAR, it’s been around of a long time. They’ve always had a presence in the sport, but I think for me to jump into that car is certainly something I was looking forward to.”

In his rookie season, Lowe was only one spot shy of advancing to the 2019 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series Championship 4. Lowe collected five Top 5’s, nine Top 10’s, and his first career victory at Michigan International Speedway.

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Garrett Lowe celebrates victory at Michigan International Speedway on August 6th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

When it was all said and done, Lowe wound up eighth overall in the 2019 standings after the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and locked into the driver roster for the 2020 season.

Chris Overland makes his return to the eNiWCS and will once again pilot the No. 16 Ford Mustang for the Wood Brothers in 2020.

Overland was drafted by the Wood Brothers as the 24th overall pick in the 2019 iRacing draft. Through his seven-season eNiWCS career, Overland has collected 15 Top 5 finishes and 32 Top 10 finishes in 110 starts.

From 2014 to 2016, Overland finished sixth, fifth, and fourth in consecutive seasons in the final driver’s standings.

Alongside his teammate Alfalla in 2019, the two struggled through the season, and eventually Overland wound up 25th overall in the standings, and was relegated to the iRacing Pro Series to re-qualify for the 2020 driver roster.

With a 15th place effort overall in the Pro Series, Overland quickly returns to the series, and made the deal with the Woods fairly early on in the process.

“It was really, really simple,” Overland said. “Jon (Wood) made me very comfortable. He shot me a message that said ‘Hey, we’re keeping you if you want to stay, give me a few days to find a second driver for us’ because Ray (Alfalla) had gone on and done his own thing.

“I said OK, I’ll sit around and wait. We got it all sorted out… It’s pretty cool to be signing a contract with one of the most historic names in motorsports history.”

Overland’s best finish on the season was a second place effort at Michigan International Speedway – the same race where Lowe collected his first career victory last season.

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Chris Overland (16) slips by a spinning Chris Shearburn at Kentucky Speedway on July 9th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

2019 WOOD BROTHERS GAMING RECAP

The Wood Brothers started the 2019 with the lead entering the first and only eNASCAR iRacing draft back in February.

With the first pick, Ray Alfalla was chosen to drive the No. 21. Alfalla was coming off a season in 2018 where he picked up his fourth career championship, so the choice was almost a no-brainer for the first pick of the draft.

The draft was only two rounds, so the order flipped for round 2. Coming home with the 24th and final pick of the draft was Chris Overland, selected to drive the No. 16 for the Wood Brothers.

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Ray Alfalla (21) leads the field at Michigan International Speedway on August 6th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

It wasn’t until the third race of the season where Alfalla picked up the team’s first Top 10 finish at Auto Club Speedway, coming home with a seventh place effort.

For the team’s first Top 5 finish, it took until Michigan International Speedway, where both drivers placed up there. Overland came home second while Alfalla took home a fifth.

Unfortunately for the Wood Brothers Gaming duo, that was all the good they had during the 2019 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series season.

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Ray Alfalla (2) and Chris Overland (02) at Richmond Raceway in the iRacing Pro Series on November 5th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Alfalla was only two points away from the cutoff to return to the series, finishing 21st overall. Overland was a little further back, 19 points out and in 25th place at season’s end.

Both drivers returned to the iRacing Pro Series to re-qualify for the 2020 series.

Without a question, Alfalla was quick to put his 2019 eNiWCS season behind him. Alfalla picked up two victories and the Pro Series title in the seven-race series.

Overland collected a Top 10 and placed 15th overall. It was enough to advance back into the 2020 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series.

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Ray Alfalla (21), Garrett Lowe (28), and Brandon Kettelle (80) three-wide for the lead at Michigan International Speedway on August 6th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

THE WOOD BROTHERS ADD LOWE DURING FREE AGENCY

An opportunity for Alfalla to drive for the new Virtual Racing School team opened a seat for the Wood Brothers to add another hot shoe to the mix in 2020.

Only a rookie in the 2019 season, Garrett Lowe turned some heads in his first crack in the series.

Five Top 5’s before the playoffs, including the win at Michigan, it looked like Lowe could be a sleeper for the 2019 Series Championship.

As mentioned in my previous ePreview for Team Dillon eSports, it came down to the last race before the title race, the marathon that was the Charlotte ROVAL event.

Lowe seemed to have the advantage early on in the event, but his competitor, Blake Reynolds, used pit strategy to overtake Lowe, and became near impossible to pass as the laps wound down.

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Garrett Lowe (28) leads Blake Reynolds (30) at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL on September 24th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

There was a point where Lowe had made the pass by after a mistake by Reynolds, but Lowe made another mistake almost right after. That allowed Reynolds to get back by permanently and left Lowe as the first man out of the title race.

Still, the season was a success for the young Lowe, and garnered attention from the Wood Brothers during the free agency period.

“Things were moving pretty quick,” Lowe said, talking about the free agency period. “By the time that offer rolled around, I knew I had to jump on it. It was one I had on my list.

“It’s a family-run team, I think that’s what’s important. They care about their people in their family, but they also care about their legacy. I think that’s important too.”

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With Alfalla moving on, Overland becomes the elder statesman on the team in 2020.

“It seems like I might have gotten tired of chasing Ray for so long,” Overland said. “The carrot and the stick really doesn’t work if the carrot is unobtainable.

“Garrett is a tremendous talent. I’ve already got some practice following him last year. I think I can learn a lot from him, and I think he can learn a lot from me.”

The eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series season begins at Daytona International Speedway on February 11th, 2020. The race is expected to be streamed live on iRacing’s Twitch stream, with the start time usually at 9:00 pm ET.

Look for ePreview #3 soon!

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Justin Melillo View All

Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com

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