THE VIRTUAL RICHMOND, Va. — A former member of the Richmond Raceway eSports team in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, Malik Ray must have held on to some track secrets that allowed him to take the victory at Richmond Raceway on Thursday night.
Malik held off the current duo over at Richmond Raceway eSports, 2019 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series champion, Zack Novak (also winner of the first eTruck Series Night in America at Atlanta Motor Speedway), and multi-time eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series winner, Jimmy Mullis, for the big win in the second eTruck Series Night in America event.
The battle came down to the final handful of laps. Novak gave Malik a shot into Turn 1, which sent the No. 54 Rowdy Energy Toyota up the track, allowing Novak’s No. 90 JD Graphics Toyota to fill the space below him.
However, heading into Turn 3, Ray Alfalla sent his No. 2 Virtual Racing School Chevrolet into Novak’s back bumper, causing him to slide through the corner and up into Malik. Everyone saved it, but Alfalla lost a few positions in the process.
Malik drove away just enough to never allow Novak to get back to his bumper again, and went on to take the virtual trophy for the Rumble at Richmond.
“At the end, I was side-by-side with Zack (Novak), and then Zack got hit into 3, because he got hit, that allowed me to get the run up off the exit,” Malik told Podium eSports post-race in the virtual victory lane.
“It means a lot, because there was a lot of big names in this event. To say that I was able to come up on top, even with all the yellows, it still means a lot.”
eTruck Series Night in America returned for it’s second rendition of virtual NASCAR Truck Series racing, and featured a slew of high profile racing names on the entry list, including Alexander Rossi (Indy 500 champion), Ron Capps (NHRA champion), Hailie Deegan (Ford Performance developmental driver), Elliott Sadler (Retired NASCAR legend), and many more across many different racing disciplines.
Matt Bussa, eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series driver for Williams Esports, started on the pole for the event, and led the most laps on the evening, a total of 59 of the 150 laps completed. His night ended with 18 laps to go, and he finished 34th.
Alfalla took the lead from Bussa and led for a while until a caution split the field on pit strategy. Collin Fern, who is the Technical Director over at Brandonbilt Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, stayed out, along with a handful of others. This put many of the fast trucks mired in the midpack for the ensuing restart, and it proved to be costly for some.
Bobby Zalenski and Bussa, along with few more, took damage on the restart resulting in another caution. All drivers were gifted one Fast Repair in the event, essentially a mulligan for everyone in case they were swept up in an incident, allowing for a brand new truck in place of a damaged one.
Fern was eventually passed by Alfalla, but the Richmond Raceway eSports teammates of Novak and Mullis were charging hard through the field. Another caution set up what would prove to be the race winning move by Malik Ray.
As everyone pitted, the No. 54 took only two tires, and won the race off of pit road.
Restart after restart, Malik would change up his strategy in order to keep the field at bay. Eventually, Novak made his way around Alfalla, and the race was on for the lead.
A bump and run looked to be the winning move for Novak, but in the next corner, he was the recipient of another bump from Alfalla as he battled side-by-side with Malik.
Novak slid through the corner, his truck pointing towards the infield. His truck bed visually penetrated the back of Malik’s, but all parties saved themselves from catastrophe, and the race continued on.
Malik grew his lead out over a half a second as Novak battled against Denny Hamlin Racing’s Casey Kirwan for second. Once Novak cleared, he started to close back in, but it was too late. The laps ran out, and Malik was victorious.
We did that.
Thank you to everyone who made #eTrucksRumble happen yesterday & tonight.
We raised over $2,000 for charity (official amount TBA), sorted over 220+ drivers down to 20, and put on a helluva race.
Ready for Round 3.🤔
Going to sleep with a huge smile. Love you all. pic.twitter.com/2a3jMz50A9
— Ryan Vargas (@RyanVargas_23) April 17, 2020
There were 15 cautions for 72 laps, and five lead changes among four drivers.
29 drivers finished on the lead lap of the 42 that started the event. Jeffrey Earnhardt didn’t have too much luck on his side, getting collected in two hellacious incidents, forcing him to finish 42nd on the day.
Event organizer Ryan Vargas, his crew of Jon Palmeri and Austin Blair, the team at Podium eSports and Speed51.com, and the partners for Richmond Raceway, along with many more members of the racing community, all got together to raise over $2,000 for COVID-19 relief via Project Hope.
— Ryan Vargas (@RyanVargas_23) April 17, 2020
eTRUCKS SERIES NIGHT IN AMERICA – RUMBLE AT RICHMOND RESULTS:
- Malik Ray (eNCiS driver, open transfer)
- Zack Novak (2019 eNCiS champion, RR eSports lock-in)
- Jimmy Mullis (eNCiS driver, RR eSports lock-in)
- Casey Kirwan (eNCiS driver, open transfer)
- Ryan Doucette (RTP driver, open transfer)
- Kevin Champagne (iRacer, open transfer)
- Brandon Hauff (RTP driver, open transfer)
- Jake Nichols (eNCiS driver, open transfer)
- Collin Fern (NXS crew member for BMS 68/86, open transfer)
- Mike Rasimas (RTP driver, open transfer)
- Briggs Danner (Dirt Modified driver, open transfer)
- Travis Braden (ARCA driver/Snowball Derby champion, eTSNIA lock-in)
- Brad Perez (SCCA Spec Miata driver, eTSNIA lock-in)
- Myatt Snider (NXS driver, hot sauce enthusiast, eTSNIA lock-in)
- John Theodore (Podium eSports CIO, Podium lock-in)
- Bobby Zalenski (eNCiS driver, open transfer)
- Anthony Alfredo (NXS driver, pasta that is fast, eTSNIA lock-in)
- Elliott Sadler (Retired NASCAR driver/legend, eTSNIA lock-in)
- Michael Cosey Jr. (iRacer/Streamer, open transfer)
- Trevor Perry (iRacer/Streamer, open transfer)
- Michael P. Frisch (iRacer, passed Ray Alfalla once, Barr Visuals lock-in)
- Ron Capps (NHRA Champion/Legend, eTSNIA lock-in)
- Justin Lisonbee (RTP driver, open transfer)
- Daniel Faulkingham (iRacer/Streamer, open transfer)
- Diego Alvarado (eNHPL driver, eTSNIA lock-in)
- Daniel Silvestri (Late Model driver, open transfer)
- Ray Alfalla (Four-time eNCiS Champion, open transfer)
- Keith Maiato (iRacer, open transfer)
- David Gravel (WoO driver, NGROTS driver, eTSNIA lock-in)
- Tommy Joe Martins (NXS driver/owner, eTSNIA lock-in)
- Jake Fisher (iRacer, SPEED VISIONS lock-in)
- Gary Sexton (Podium eSports CCO, Podium lock-in)
- Elliott Henderson (704 Games designer, EHG lock-in)
- Matt Bussa (eNCiS driver, open transfer)
- Harrison Burton (NXS driver/winner at ACS)
- Conor Horn (RTP driver, open transfer)
- Spencer Boyd (NGROTS driver/winner at Dega, eTSNIA lock-in)
- Hailie Deegan (ARCA driver, eTSNIA Race 1 announcer, eTSNIA lock-in)
- Austin Wayne Self (NGROTS driver, eTSNIA lock-in)
- Alexander Rossi (IndyCar driver/Indy 500 Champion, eTSNIA lock-in)
- Austin Hill (NGROTS driver/multi-time winner, eTSNIA lock-in)
- Jeffrey Earnhardt (NXS driver, Dale’s grandson, eTSNIA lock-in)
Did not start – Liam Brotherton (RTP driver, open transfer)
Check out the TReSports Photo Gallery from the eTruck Series Night in America Rumble Richmond Raceway! All Photos by Justin Melillo via iRacing.com.
Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com