THE VIRTUAL SPEEDWAY, Ind. –– It was a battle of varying strategies on Tuesday night at the virtual Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Keegan Leahy had the winning one when it was all said and done, as he was able to pass both Chris Shearburn and Ray Alfalla in the closing laps, holding off a charge from the former en route to victory, his second of the 2020 season.
“That was crazy. What an amazing car, first of all. What a pleasure to drive, I’m still driving it, honestly, I don’t want to leave,” Leahy said as he shook his steering wheel post-race, speaking with the announcing tandem of Evan Posocco and Tim Terry.
“I’m beat, you can probably tell. I’m a little bit sweaty, and this wheel (VRS DirectForce Pro) is awesome. This saved me so many times during the race that I don’t think I would have won without it. There was some really crazy battles there all through the whole race.
“Chris Shearburn, who I knew was going to be my main competition, probably, the whole night – I called it by lap 1, because I knew he had a really strong car, and we worked together on the setup this week. He did a great job, specifically, at putting this thing together for race trim, and it was great.”
Alfalla pitted with 34 laps to go, while Shearburn stayed out two extra laps, and Leahy stayed out two more past that. Coming to the end, Alfalla caught the wall, and whether that made the difference or not, Shearburn and Leahy were already catching him before that moment.
Leahy was able to get around Shearburn before Shearburn could get around Alfalla, and that made the biggest difference, as Leahy was able to get into the clean air first, and capture the win.
Michael Conti was the quick man early on at Indianapolis. Conti set the fast time in Practice, Qualifying, and Warm-up, and when the green dropped, he maintained a comfortable lead for about the first 10 laps.
Leahy started fourth, and after disposing of Jimmy Mullis for third, set his sights on Conti and second place Ashton Crowder.
On lap 14, Leahy was able to leapfrog from third to first, as Crowder gave the spot up into Turn 3, and Conti gave the spot up coming to the yard of bricks.
On lap 19, the only caution of the race flew when Brandon Kettelle and Jake Nichols made contact off of Turn 2, collecting Matt Bussa and Jeremy Allen.
For the first time in series history during a points-paying event, the field was limited on tires. They started with a fresh set on their cars, and had only three extra sets in the pits. If the caution periods flew a certain way, tire strategy would be a big factor.
When the pits opened under the caution, everyone pitted. About 25% of the race was completed (20 laps) and taking a set now would leave two extra sets for the rest of the race.
It turns out that nobody needed the final set.
The race restarted on lap 22, and went green to the end from there. Conti returned to the point, and Leahy found himself mired back in fifth after a lengthy pit stop.
At lap 24, Alfalla took control. Alfalla looked to have a strong car, but it was undetermined if he had the best long run speed.
At lap 46, only 24 laps into fuel window extending past 33 laps, Alfalla pitted from the lead, opting for fresh tires as soon as possible. That handed the lead back to Leahy.
Two laps later, Shearburn pitted from the second position, and two more laps after that, Leahy finally came down pit road.
When it cycled out, Alfalla had over a two second lead over Shearburn. However, Shearburn and Leahy were closing in fast, both within a second of the lead coming to ten laps to go.
Alfalla caught the wall, after he said he was distracted by another car, and put significant damage on his right front. It didn’t take long after that for both Shearburn and Leahy to be right there.
Leahy made the first move, and got around Shearburn coming to eight laps to go. The next time by, Leahy was able to make the move around the outside of Alfalla to take the lead.
Shearburn was able to also get around Alfalla, and kept a close distance to Leahy in the closing laps. It wasn’t enough though, as Leahy held on to score the Indy win, marking his second win on the 2020 season, and the seventh win of his career.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) July 1, 2020
NOTES AND NUGGETS:
- Logan Clampitt and Blake Reynolds continued their feud from the North Wilkesboro All-Star race. A handful of laps before halfway, Clampitt and Reynolds made contact off of Turn 4. Clampitt finished 26th, while Reynolds finished 29th.
- 36 drivers finished on the lead lap, and 38 drivers finished the race. Only Matt Bussa retired from the event after having too much damage from the only caution.
- There was one caution for three laps in the 80 lap event. There were eight lead changes among five drivers, and Alfalla led the most laps, 36 total.
- In two weeks, the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series returns to action at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Jimmy Mullis was the last driver to win at NHMS back in 2018.
- Leahy extends his point lead over Ryan Luza to 19 points after Luza finished sixth. Garrett Lowe finished fourth in the race, and sits third in the standings, also 19 points behind Leahy.
- Alfalla moved back into the playoff cutoff, up to sixth in points, while Nichols, who was eighth, fell out due to the incident he was involved in, and now sits 11th in the standings.
- In the Team Standings, Virtual Racing School continues to lead over JR Motorsports by 23 points. Denny Hamlin Racing moves up into third overall.
TOP 10 IN DRIVER’S POINTS:
- Keegan Leahy +82
- Ryan Luza +63
- Garrett Lowe +63
- Bobby Zalenski +46
- Michael Conti +38
- Ray Alfalla +21
- Nick Ottinger +19
- Brad Davies +6
- Graham Bowlin -6
- Chris Shearburn -9
INDIANAPOLIS RACE RESULTS:
- 32 – Keegan Leahy – Denny Hamlin Racing
- 36 – Chris Shearburn – Letarte eSports
- 2 – Ray Alfalla – Virtual Racing School
- 21 – Garrett Lowe – Wood Brothers Racing
- 8 – Michael Conti – JR Motorsports
- 53 – Ryan Michael Luza – Williams eSports
- 18 – Graham A. Bowlin – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 23 – Casey Kirwan – Denny Hamlin Racing
- 83 – Bobby Zalenski – Virtual Racing School
- 25 – Nick Ottinger – Williams Byron eSports
- 9 – Eric J. Smith – Jim Beaver eSports
- 46 – Jimmy Mullis – Richmond Raceway eSports
- 51 – Malik Ray – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 33 – Michael Guest – Team Dillon eSports
- 15 – Michael Guariglia – Jim Beaver eSports
- 41 – Dylan Duval – Stewart-Haas eSports
- 4 – Santiago Tirres – Letarte eSports
- 10 – Justin Bolton – Stewart-Haas eSports
- 88 – Brad Davies – JR Motorsports
- 55 – Caine Cook – Renegades
- 16 – Chris Overland – Wood Brothers Racing
- 77 – Ashton Crowder – Burton Kligerman eSports
- 79 – Brian Schoenburg – Clint Bowyer Racing
- 6 – Nathan Lyon – Roush Fenway Racing
- 27 – Corey Vincent – Renegades
- 99 – Logan Clampitt – Burton Kligerman eSports
- 90 – Zack Novak – Richmond Raceway eSports
- 17 – Kollin Keister – Roush Fenway Racing
- 3 – Blake Reynolds – Team Dillon eSports
- 75 – Phillip Diaz – Mode Motorsports
- 24 – Jake Nichols – Mode Motorsports
- 37 – Christian Challiner – JTG Daugherty Racing
- 42 – Bob Bryant – Bryant Sheehan eSports
- 54 – Alex McCollum – G2 eSports
- 97 – John Gorlinsky – William Byron eSports
- 66 – Jarl Teien – G2 eSports
- 47 – Jeremy R Allen – JTG Daugherty Racing
- 14 – Brandon Hayse Kettelle – Clint Bowyer Racing
- 5 – Matt Bussa – Williams eSports
DID NOT RACE: 1 – Steve Sheehan – Bryant Sheehan eSports
Check out the TReSports Photo Gallery from Race #9 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway! All Photos by Justin Melillo via iRacing.com.
Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com