THE VIRTUAL LOUDON, N.H. — The first segment of the 2020 eNASCAR Heat Pro League is in the record books, and the books will show Maxwell Castro (Ganassi Gaming) and Justin Brooks (JTG Daugherty Throttlers) as the segment victors. Both drivers will advance to the championship round later in the season.
Neither driver came out victorious in the races, though, as Josh Harbin (Leavine Family Gaming) and Slade Gravitt (Wood Brothers Gaming) took their respective race victories tonight at the virtual New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
On the PLAYSTATION 4 side, Harbin took the lead late from Brandyn Gritton (Stewart-Haas eSports) and never looked back. Meanwhile, Gravitt held on to enough gas, after a multitude of cautions mid-race, to hold off the others on the same strategy on the XBOX ONE side of the console races.
The first race this week took place on the PLAYSTATION console, and Brandyn Gritton took the pole position once again.
Gritton soon had company, as Josh Harbin and Joe Gornick (JR Motorsports) joined in on the battle for the lead.
The three traded the lead a few times, but eventually, Gornick would take control.
Meanwhile, the battle for the segment title was heating up mid-pack.
Maxwell Castro and Kyle Arnold (Germain Gaming) came into the final race of the segment tied for the top spot, while Nick Jobes (Hendrick Motorsports GC) was only a single point behind them.
Jobes had the lead early, but Castro took control after a bit. Arnold, on the other hand, was having an up and down race, finding himself both in the back, and then right behind Castro.
A caution with just over 20 to go set the stage for the final run to the checkers. Joey Stone (RCR eSports) utilized pit strategy to take the lead after the pit stops, but it didn’t take long for Gritton and Harbin to get by.
With seven to go, Harbin took the lead, and never looked back from there.
For the segment title, Castro and Arnold were fifth and sixth with five to go, but Arnold seemed to get loose off of Turn 2, and Castro was able to give himself a big cushion, plenty enough to finish third overall, and to take the first segment of the 2020 season.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) May 14, 2020
*** The XBOX drivers suited up for the final race of the first segment in 2020, and title contender Justin Brooks led the field to the green.
Brooks’ main competition was Daniel Buttafuoco (Germain Gaming), and the two showed throughout the event that they were the ones to watch for the win.
A slew of cautions shook up the running order a few times as drivers attempted different strategies in order to gain position.
Luis Zaiter (Ganassi Gaming), Matthew Heale (Gibbs Gaming) and Diego Alvarado (Petty eSports) took turns at the point, but once the cautions fizzled out, Buttafuoco and Brooks ended up pulling a large gap on the entire field.
On the broadcast, as the laps began to wind down, eNASCAR Heat expert Russell Cox hinted that it might be possible for some fuel saving strategies to play out and affect the outcome of the race.
Coming to eight laps to go, Buttafuoco and Brooks pitted. Brooks took two tires, and Buttafuoco took four. It gave Brooks a three second advantage, but with three to go, Buttafuoco passed him back.
It didn’t matter, however. Unless Buttafuoco could take the win, Brooks would be able to take the segment title by finishing near the No. 13.
Slade Gravitt led a pack of cars on fuel conservation at the end, and as all eyes were on the segment title battle, Gravitt pulled a fast one, taking the win after starting shotgun on the field.
Buttafuoco finished sixth, and Brooks finished eighth. That gave brooks enough to take the segment.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) May 14, 2020
Germain Gaming leads the overall team standings by 10 points over Ganassi Gaming.
Next week, the second segment begins at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and drivers will race using the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Trucks for the second time on the season.
The upcoming races will move to Thursday night as the NASCAR Cup Series will hold an event at Darlington Raceway next Wednesday night, and an event at Charlotte Motor Speedway the following week.
No word if the change will be permanent or temporary.
PLAYSTATION 4 New Hampshire Motor Speedway Race 4 Results:
- 95 – Josh Harbin – Leavine Faminly Gaming
- 14 – Brandyn Gritton – Stewart-Haas eSports
- 1 – Maxwell Castro – Chip Ganassi Gaming (SEGMENT 1 CHAMP)
- 18 – Josh Parker – Gibbs Gaming
- 8 – Joey Stone – RCR eSports
- 44 – Mike Braas – Petty eSports
- 16 – Cody Giles – Wood Brothers Gaming
- 13 – Kyle Arnold – Germain Gaming
- 2 – Corey Rothgeb – Team Penske eSports
- 32 – Jason Mitchell – GoFas Gaming
- 7 – Joe Gornick – JR Motorsports
- 25 – Nick Jobes – Hendrick Motorsports GC
- 47 – TJ McGowan – JTG Daugherty Throttlers
- 17 – Brandon Hanna – Roush Fenway Gaming
XBOX One New Hampshire Motor Speedway Race 4 Results:
- 21 – Slade Gravitt – Wood Brothers Gaming
- 42 – Luis Zaiter – Chip Ganassi Gaming
- 88 – Tyler Dohar – JR Motorsports
- 95 – Jose Ruiz – Leavine Family Gaming
- 6 – Nicholas Walker – Roush Fenway Gaming
- 13 – Daniel Buttafuoco – Germain Gaming
- 3 – Mitch Diamond – RCR eSports
- 37 – Justin Brooks – JTG Daughery Throttlers
- 32 – Riley Ogle – GoFas Gaming
- 43 – Diego Alvarado – Petty eSports
- 51 – Matthew Heale – Gibbs Gaming
- 22 – Brian Tedeschi – Team Penske eSports
- 5 – Sam Morris – Hendrick Motorsports GC
- 4 – Matthew Selby – Stewart-Haas eSports
Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com