For the first time in his young eNASCAR Peak Antifreeze iRacing career, Garrett Lowe tasted victory in the virtual Irish Hills of Michigan.
In an unofficial green-white-checkered restart, Lowe navigated the chaos to put his Team Renegades Ford Mustang up front.
Heading into the final turn on the final lap, Lowe made the right moves to hold off Chris Overland and Blake Reynolds at the line.
“We got the caution, and out of just a good pit stop, got to line up fifth, and then someone got put to the back for a connection issue,” Lowe said post race to RaceSpot TV. “That moved us up into third. Just hung on the bottom there as long as we could, got the push, and then I guess he (Overland) got loose in the middle of Turn 2 and just took out a couple of cars. I just cut to the bottom as soon as that happened. It was pretty close.”
“That finish, that was incredible.”
Lowe’s first career victory couldn’t have come at a better time for the young sim racer, as he is now locked into the 2019 eNPAiS playoffs in his rookie campaign.
Keegan Leahy led the field to the green to start the 100 lap feature at Michigan International Speedway. Brad Davies went back and forth with Leahy for the first few laps, but it was the defending eNPAiS champion Ray Alfalla who took over at lap 6.
Alfalla looked to be in championship-winning form on Tuesday night, holding on to the top spot for a majority of the first half of the event.
Challenges from Lowe, Brandon Kettelle, Jimmy Mullis were often and plenty, but Alfalla held serve, leading 35 of the first 45 laps of the race.
A handful of cautions marred the beginning of the night, with three in the first 40 laps, but a long green flag run would ensue following the restart at lap 44.
Alfalla looked to be continuing his dominance, but on lap 46, his car pushed up the track, possibly from invisible contact from Kettelle’s No. 80 Mane n’ Tail Camaro.
The slip up relegated Alfalla back to around the 10th position, and he never fully recovered to get back in contention.
Meanwhile up front, Kettelle began to battle with Reynolds for the top spot, trading the lead until Leahy found his way back to the top at lap 62.
Leahy evidently had a very strong long run car, and was able to gap the field by over four seconds at one point.
Pit strategy allowed some drivers to short pit, and others to run as long as they could, hoping for a caution to level the playing field.
Leahy waited on his stop, opting for optimal tires for the end of the race. It didn’t take him long to pass the drivers who had cycled ahead of him, and by lap 84, Leahy was back to an impressive lead once again.
A caution at lap 95 changed everything. Instead of Leahy cruising to victory by multiple seconds on a field, now it was up to another round of pit stops, and a final restart to settle the competition.
Kettelle had won the race off of pit road, but just before the restart, was handed an end-of-longest-line penalty from the iRacing officials, deeming his internet connection to be too questionable for the end of the event.
The penalty cycled Overland to the front row alongside Leahy. The two battled side-by-side coming to the white flag, and that’s when chaos ensued.
Overland bobbled in the center of Turn 1, and clipped Leahy’s No. 62 G2 eSports Camaro. Leahy wound up finishing 34th after the spin.
Overland kept it straight, but handed the fight for the win over to Lowe and Reynolds. Lowe with the advantage, but Reynolds with the run, the two went into Turn 3 on the bottom of the track, both washing up off the corner.
The battle brought Overland back into contention, and the trio went three-wide heading to the line.
Overland was able to best Reynolds at the line, but ultimately, it was Lowe who held on for the victory at the line.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) August 7, 2019
38 drivers filled the field on Tuesday night, and all 38 finished all 100 laps in the event.
Only three drivers have clinched into the 2019 eNASCAR Peak Antifreeze iRacing Series Playoffs, with only one race remaining in the regular season.
Ryan Luza, Lowe, and Reynolds will have a less pressure filled race at Bristol Motor Speedway in two weeks, but Bobby Zalenski, Leahy, Michael Conti, Mullis, and Zack Novak will all be trying to hold on to their place in the Top 8, while Nick Ottinger, Casey Kirwan, and Christian Challiner will do everything in their power to take one of those playoff spots.
- 28 – Garrett Lowe – Renegades
- 16 – Chris Overland – Wood Brothers Racing
- 30 – Blake Reynolds – Team Dillon eSports
- 27 – Corey Vincent – Renegades
- 21 – Ray Alfalla – Wood Brothers Racing
- 66 – Jarl Teien – G2 eSports
- 8 – Michael Conti – JR Motorsports
- 53 – Ryan Michael Luza – FlipSid3 Tactics
- 36 – Chris Shearburn – Letarte eSports
- 18 – Bobby Zalenski – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 42 – Dylan Duval – Independent
- 2 – Caine Cook – Independent
- 14 – Casey Kirwan – Clint Bowyer Racing
- 55 – Brian Schoenburg – Williams eSports
- 33 – Benjamin W. Nelson – Team Dillon eSports
- 37 – Christian Challiner – JTG Daugherty Racing
- 20 – Jake Nichols – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 77 – Ashton Crowder – Burton Kligerman eSports
- 75 – Philip Diaz – Mode Motorsports
- 5 – Matt Bussa – Williams eSports
- 6 – Zack Novak – Roush Fenway Racing
- 63 – Timmy Hill – FlipSid3 Tactics
- 90 – Malik Ray – Richmond Raceway eSports
- 80 – Brandon Hayse Kettelle – Independent
- 51 – Eric J. Smith – Jim Beaver eSports
- 15 – Michael Guariglia – Jim Beaver eSports
- 7 – Ryan Lowe – Independent
- 83 – Adam Benefiel – Independent
- 47 – Nick Ottinger – JTG Daugherty Racing
- 31 – Logan Kress – Independent
- 79 – Nickolas Shelton – Clint Bowyer Racing
- 88 – Brad Davies – JR Motorsports
- 46 – Jimmy Mullis – Richmond Raceway eSports
- 62 – Keegan Leahy – G2 eSports
- 17 – Michael Guest – Roush Fenway Racing
- 4 – Nathan Lyon – Letarte eSports
- 19 – Casey Tucker – Independent
- 74 – Taylor Hurst – Independent
Did Not Race:
24 – Cody Byus – Mode Motorsports
99 – Logan Clampitt – Burton Kligerman eSports
- 53 – Ryan Michael Luza – FlipSid3 Tactics (+81)
- 28 – Garrett Lowe – Renegades (+61)
- 30 – Blake Reynolds – Team Dillon eSports (+54)
———————-^ clinched playoff ^————————
- 18 – Bobby Zalenski – Joe Gibbs Racing (+43)
- 62 – Keegan Leahy – G2 eSports (+41)
- 8 – Michael Conti – JR Motorsports (+34)
- 46 – Jimmy Mullis – Richmond Raceway eSports (+15)
- 6 – Zack Novak – Roush Fenway Racing (+7)
———————-^ playoff cutoff ^————————
- 47 – Nick Ottinger – JTG Daugherty Racing (-7)
- 14 – Casey Kirwan – Clint Bowyer Racing (-37)
- 37 – Christian Challiner – JTG Daugherty Racing (-39)
Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com