Ashton Crowder holds on for victory at Auto Club Speedway
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.
The race started the same way it finished two weeks ago at Daytona International Speedway, with Keegan Leahy in the lead position.
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, 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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
After MULTIPLE lead changes in the final 5 laps, @AshtonCrowder takes the 🏁 for @BurtKligEsports here at Auto Club! pic.twitter.com/CWBRLNG7U5
— iRacing.com (@iRacing) February 26, 2020
- 77 – Ashton Crowder – Burton Kligerman eSports
- 21 – Garrett Lowe – Wood Brothers Racing
- 83 – Bobby Zalenski – Virtual Racing School
- 24 – Jake Nichols – Mode Motorsports
- 16 – Chris Overland – Wood Brothers Racing
- 97 – John Gorlinsky – William Byron eSports
- 23 – Casey Kirwan – Denny Hamlin Racing
- 46 – Jimmy Mullis – Richmond Raceway eSports
- 3 – Blake Reynolds – Team Dillon eSports
- 66 – Jarl Teien – G2 eSports
- 2 – Ray Alfalla – Virtual Racing School
- 5 – Matt Bussa – Williams eSports
- 88 – Brad Davies – JR Motorsports
- 75 – Philip Diaz – Mode Motorsports
- 47 – Jeremy R Allen – JTG Daugherty Racing
- 55 – Caine Cook – Renegades
- 54 – Alex McCollum – G2 eSports
- 42 – Bob Bryant – KLR eSports
- 4 – Santiago Tirres – Letarte eSports
- 25 – Nick Ottinger – Williams Byron eSports
- 14 – Brandon Hayse Kettelle – Clint Bowyer Racing
- 32 – Keegan Leahy – Denny Hamlin Racing
- 6 – Nathan Lyon – Roush Fenway Racing
- 10 – Justin Bolton – Stewart-Haas eSports
- 27 – Corey Vincent – Renegades
- 18 – Graham A. Bowlin – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 17 – Kollin Keister – Roush Fenway Racing
- 1 – Steve Sheehan – KLR eSports
- 9 – Eric J. Smith – Jim Beaver eSports
- 8 – Michael Conti – JR Motorsports
- 41 – Dylan Duval – Stewart-Haas eSports
- 36 – Chris Shearburn – Letarte eSports
- 33 – Michael Guest – Team Dillon eSports
- 51 – Malik Ray – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 37 – Christian Challiner – JTG Daugherty Racing
- 53 – Ryan Michael Luza – Williams eSports
- 79 – Brian Schoenburg – Clint Bowyer Racing
- 99 – Logan Clampitt – Burton Kligerman eSports
- 15 – Michael Guariglia – Jim Beaver eSports
- 90 – Zack Novak – Richmond Raceway eSports
Full Photo Album from Race #2 (photos by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com):
Justin Melillo View All
Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com
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