Advertisements
Skip to content

Keegan Leahy wins season-opener at Daytona in photo finish

burnout
Keegan Leahy celebrates victory at Daytona International Speedway on February 11th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The virtual banks of Daytona International Speedway have been busy in the past week, getting ready to host one of the biggest races of the season.

The stars of the newly coined eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series have been working out all the bugs during preseason thunder, and when it came time to put on the main event on Tuesday night, not a single one of those drivers disappointed.

Keegan Leahy wound up victorious on Tuesday night, as he held off Nick Ottinger by only 0.004 seconds to win the opening race of the 2020 season at Daytona.

Last season, Leahy was the bridesmaid in the title race, but this year, he’s already on top of the world in his new No. 32 Direct Force Pro Toyota Camry.

finish
Keegan Leahy (32) noses Nick Ottinger (25) for the win at Daytona International Speedway on February 11th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

“That was incredible,” Leahy said to Evan Posocco after winning the event. “I can’t believe we pulled that off. We had a game plan from the start. We short pitted, we got ahead of the pack, just trying to play it safe. We wanted to be there at the end, and somehow, we pulled it off.”

The win is the first for new team owner, Denny Hamlin, of Denny Hamlin Racing. Hamlin, with the Jordan brand, joined the series during the offseason, and the Jordan brand is featured on the car of Leahy’s teammate, Casey Kirwan.

In a 100 lap, caution-free event, the race saw 33 lead changes among 14 different drivers. Β Leahy led the most on the day, with a quarter of the race, 25 laps led, in his pocket at the end of the day. The most important one was the final one, and Leahy can say he’s the first to lead that in the 2020 season.

endoflap1
The first lap of the 2020 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season was led by Bobby Zalenski, driver of the No. 83 Chevrolet for Virtual Racing School. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

The No. 83 Virtual Racing School Chevrolet of Bobby Zalenski started on the pole on Tuesday night, and battled back and forth with the defending series champion, Zack Novak, in the opening laps.

Novak is another face in a new place, now driving the No. 90 Sunoco Toyota Camry for Richmond Raceway eSports.

Zalenski eventually gave way to LETARTE eSports driver, Chris Shearburn, driver of the No. 36 Chevrolet. Shearburn led often before the pits finally opened up around Lap 30.

During the second stint of the event, the field got ‘Rowdy’ as Malik Ray and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Graham A. Bowlin, found themselves at the front of the pack.

malikleadfing65laps
Malik Ray (51) leads the pack during the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway on February 11th, 2020. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Kollin Keister, Chris Overland, Casey Kirwan, and more all traded the lead many times over this stint, but there was still one more round of pit stops to go.

Unfortunately for Ray, a glitch disabled his No. 51 Rowdy Energy Toyota Camry from receiving fuel during the final stop, and essentially took him out of contention for the remainder of the event.

Meanwhile up front, the pack started to condense following the final round of stops. Leahy was the leader of the bottom line, while the William Byron eSports driver, Nick Ottinger, had taken his No. 25 Logitech Chevrolet to the lead of the middle.

mynailsaregone

The outside lane was unable to get fully formed, even though Brandon Kettelle, driving the No. 14 Clint Bowyer Racing / iRacing Ford Mustang, was giving it his all.

Coming off the final corner, the field wrecked behind the leaders, and at the line, it was Leahy by inches over Ottinger for the win.

The Daytona victory is Leahy’s sixth career victory in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, and first at a Superspeedway.

The series returns to action in two weeks, as they head west to the virtual Auto Club Speedway for the second round of the season.

 

SOURCES:Β 
iRacing.com
eNASCAR.com

RACE RESULTS:

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

Justin Melillo View All

Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: