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Ashton Crowder holds on for victory at Auto Club Speedway

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Ashton Crowder celebrates his win at Auto Club Speedway on February 25th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

A virtual trip to the West Coast, the eNASCAR drivers took to the virtual Auto Club Speedway, and baked in the virtual sunshine for most of the 100 lap event.

When the lap counter ran out, Ashton Crowder had the winning number with his No. 77 Valvoline Toyota Camry for Burton Kligerman eSports.

The young Crowder held off another young racer, Garrett Lowe, and the rest of the 40 car show to win his second career eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series race, and his first on the 2020 season.

“That was pretty cool,” Crowder said. “I told Garrett (Lowe) ‘don’t make a move yet’, wait until five to go, because I figured we’d get caught by Bobby (Zalenski), but thankfully that didn’t happen.”

Lowe did wait until five to go, made the move, and seemed to be in position to take the victory, but Crowder fought back, re-took the lead, and never relinquished it again.

***

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The racing was intense all night at Auto Club Speedway on February 25th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

The race started the same way it finished two weeks ago at Daytona International Speedway, with Keegan Leahy in the lead position.

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Keegan Leahy at Auto Club Speedway on February 25th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Leahy, along with his Denny Hamlin Racing teammate, Casey Kirwan, were strong throughout the first half of the event.

The two battled it out with the likes of Bobby Zalenski from the Virtual Racing School, Chris Shearburn from LETARTE eSports, Β Logan Clampitt from Burton Kligerman eSports, and Williams eSports’ Ryan Luza in the early going.

Still without a caution thus far into the 2020 season, the majority of the lead pack opted for a two-stop pit strategy, with many coming down pit road around lap 33.

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Ray Alfalla led the charge of one-stop pit strategy at Auto Club Speedway on February 25th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Nine drivers, most of them marred in the back half of the field for most of the race to that point, decided on a one-stop pit strategy, and toughed it out until halfway. Ray Alfalla led that group in, but missed his stall on entry.

At halfway, the lead cycled back to Leahy, but only a few laps later, the first yellow flag of the season flew at lap 55.

Graham A. Bowlin made contact with Christian Challiner while battling in the Top 10, and the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota from the Joe Gibbs Racing stable went for a spin on the backstretch.

The field now bunched back up for only their third restart of the season, it didn’t take long for the caution to fly once again.

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Michael Guariglia (15) spins and collects multiple cars at Auto Club Speedway on February 25th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Michael Guariglia, Steve Sheehan, Challiner, Luza, and Clampitt all collided off of Turn 4, and there were others who took on some damage as well.

2019 Series Champion, Zack Novak,

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Zack Novak finished last after an incident at Auto Club Speedway on February 25th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

was also collected in the mayhem, and the result of the damage was a 40th place finish, a first for the young Richmond Raceway eSports driver.

The race went back to green flag action, and the standings were a bit shaken up.

Jake Nichols, Chris Overland, John Gorlinsky, and others on the one-stop pit strategy had stayed out, putting them in front of the drivers on the two-stop strategy who had to pit under yellow.

Nichols and Overland traded the lead for a few laps, but soon, Zalenski rejoined the fight, and brought Kirwan and more to the battle.

With 20 laps to go, Ashton Crowder made his presence known, taking the lead from Zalenski. As Leahy had started to do before the caution flew earlier in the race, Crowder started to pull a bit of a gap on the rest of the field.

With ten laps to go, another new challenger approached, this being Garrett Lowe in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford Mustang.

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Garrett Lowe (21) takes the lead from Ashton Crowder (77) in the closing laps at Auto Club Speedway on February 25th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

With five laps to go, Lowe made the pass for the lead around Crowder, and looked to be heading towards a second career victory for himself.

Crowder would not be denied, and with three laps to go, made the final pass for the lead back around Lowe.

***

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Ashton Crowder (77) holds off Garrett Lowe (21) for the victoryΒ at Auto Club Speedway on February 25th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

With his victory on Tuesday night, Ashton Crowder is the new eNCiS points leader in a tie-breaker over Bobby Zalenski, both drivers sitting at 78 points.

The next stop for the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series is to visit Homestead-Miami Speedway. Normally the season finale, Homestead-Miami moves to the third race of the season in 2020.

Zack Novak was the race winner in October, as he also pocketed the 2019 title in the same race.

 

SOURCES:Β 
iRacing.com
eNASCAR.com

RACE RESULTS:

  1. 77 – Ashton Crowder – Burton Kligerman eSports
  2. 21 – Garrett Lowe – Wood Brothers Racing
  3. 83 – Bobby Zalenski – Virtual Racing School
  4. 24 – Jake Nichols – Mode Motorsports
  5. 16 – Chris Overland – Wood Brothers Racing
  6. 97 – John Gorlinsky – William Byron eSports
  7. 23 – Casey Kirwan – Denny Hamlin Racing
  8. 46 – Jimmy Mullis – Richmond Raceway eSports
  9. 3 – Blake Reynolds – Team Dillon eSports
  10. 66 – Jarl Teien – G2 eSports
  11. 2 – Ray Alfalla – Virtual Racing School
  12. 5 – Matt Bussa – Williams eSports
  13. 88 – Brad Davies – JR Motorsports
  14. 75 – Philip Diaz – Mode Motorsports
  15. 47 – Jeremy R Allen – JTG Daugherty Racing
  16. 55 – Caine Cook – Renegades
  17. 54 – Alex McCollum – G2 eSports
  18. 42 – Bob Bryant – KLR eSports
  19. 4 – Santiago Tirres – Letarte eSports
  20. 25 – Nick Ottinger – Williams Byron eSports
  21. 14 – Brandon Hayse Kettelle – Clint Bowyer Racing
  22. 32 – Keegan Leahy – Denny Hamlin Racing
  23. 6 – Nathan Lyon – Roush Fenway Racing
  24. 10 – Justin Bolton – Stewart-Haas eSports
  25. 27 – Corey Vincent – Renegades
  26. 18 – Graham A. Bowlin – Joe Gibbs Racing
  27. 17 – Kollin Keister – Roush Fenway Racing
  28. 1 – Steve Sheehan – KLR eSports
  29. 9 – Eric J. Smith – Jim Beaver eSports
  30. 8 – Michael Conti – JR Motorsports
  31. 41 – Dylan Duval – Stewart-Haas eSports
  32. 36 – Chris Shearburn – Letarte eSports
  33. 33 – Michael Guest – Team Dillon eSports
  34. 51 – Malik Ray – Joe Gibbs Racing
  35. 37 – Christian Challiner – JTG Daugherty Racing
  36. 53 – Ryan Michael Luza – Williams eSports
  37. 79 – Brian Schoenburg – Clint Bowyer Racing
  38. 99 – Logan Clampitt – Burton Kligerman eSports
  39. 15 – Michael Guariglia – Jim Beaver eSports
  40. 90 – Zack Novak – Richmond Raceway eSports

Full Photo Album from Race #2 (photos by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com):

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Justin Melillo View All

Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com

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