THE VIRTUAL HAMPTON, GA. – It was never a question of “if” Ray Alfalla (Virtual Racing School) would get back to victory lane. The “when”, however, was answered on a rare Friday night event for the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, after 167 laps at the virtual Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Alfalla led the most laps, had the right pit strategy, and had the best long run speed when it mattered, as he conquered the 1.5 mile oval, holding off Garrett Lowe (Wood Brothers Racing), Caine Cook (Renegades), and the rest of the 40-car field for his 25th career Series victory.
“I guess I’m not washed up anymore,” Alfalla joked post-race in the virtual victory lane.
It’s been 25 races since Alfalla’s last victory in the series, the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway back in 2018, when he won his fourth title. Alfalla went winless in the entirety of the 2019 season, but the streak has ended courtesy of the Atlanta win, eight races into the 2020 season.
“Getting the VRS Camaro finally up front – you know, we’ve had a lot of good runs this season, and we always just kind of make a mistake here or there, strategy-wise. Charlotte, we had a really good car and we made a mistake on a lap 8 yellow, and it went green the rest of the way.
“Everybody put in a lot of hard work this week, especially Eric Smith. I feel really bad about what happened to him. He said ‘Ray, we have a winning car, so go win it’.
“Man, it’s been a long time.”
— Ray Alfalla (@rayalfalla) May 30, 2020
Corey Vincent (Renegades) collected his fifth career pole position on Friday night, and led the field to the green in the 167 lap event.
Kollin Keister (Roush Fenway Racing), the most recent winner in the series at the virtual Charlotte Motor Speedway over two weeks ago, didn’t waste much time getting back to the top spot, had he took control on Lap 2.
Keister seemed to have another winning piece on his hands, but as races unfold, different contenders will come into play.
A clump of cautions marred the second quarter of the race, with drivers such as Brad Davies (JR Motorsports), Ryan Luza (Williams Esports), Graham Bowlin (Joe Gibbs Racing), and more found themselves heavily damaged, off pace, or even forced to retire, such as Bowlin, who had to call it quits after 66 laps, just with too much damage to overcome.
Once the race got back to green flag action, it stayed that way, and the strategies began to play out.
Jarl Teien (G2 eSports) led the field on the final restart on lap 61, a strategy call for track position with over 100 laps remaining.
Keister took it back quickly, but there were, indeed, new contenders in play.
Nick Ottinger (William Byron eSports) took over for a short period, but Alfalla was right behind him, following him past Keister and into the second position.
On lap 70, Alfalla was in control, and even though Ottinger was able to close back in and almost complete a pass back to the front, Alfalla held on strong, and pulled back ahead.
Green flag pit stops would decide the race. Keegan Leahy (Denny Hamlin Racing) was one of the first in for pit service, and that allowed him to cycle into the lead position. Alfalla waited just long enough to keep himself in contention, factoring having the best tire wear for the end of the race.
Almost six seconds behind the leader, Alfalla, along with Keister and Jake Nichols (Mode Motorsports), had some serious cutting through the field to accomplish before the good in their tires wore off.
At lap 133, Michael Conti (JR Motorsports) took control of the lead, having pitted just one lap after Leahy. However, Alfalla was already up to the third position by that time, and within a second of the lead.
Alfalla made quick work of Leahy, and with 30 laps to go, he was back out front.
As the laps wound down, Lowe and Cook came into the picture, having saved their tires better than most, but Alfalla was untouchable out front.
The race stayed green until the end, and Alfalla was able to celebrate snapping a 25-race winless streak, the longest of his storied career.
Looking at the points, halfway through the 2020 regular season, Keegan Leahy takes over the points lead from Ryan Luza, and leads by 10 points.
The Top 8:
- Keegan Leahy 264
- Ryan Luza -10
- Garrett Lowe -12
- Bobby Zalenski -24
- Michael Conti -37
- Nick Ottinger -50
- Brad Davies -54
- Jake Nichols -55
On the outside looking in:
9. Ray Alfalla -57
10. Graham A. Bowlin -72
11. Logan Clampitt -74
12. Ashton Crowder -79 (tie)
12. John Gorlinsky -79 (tie)
14. Chris Shearburn -80
Meanwhile, for the Top 20 bubble, Nathan Lyon and Jarl Teien hold the final position, tied for 19th.
The 2019 Series Champion, Zack Novak, is the first man out by two points, in 21st.
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series will have a month off until their next scheduled points race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on June 30th.
There is an All-Star race on the schedule for June 16th, but the details have not yet been announced for that.
At Indianapolis in 2019, Corey Vincent was able to get around Blake Reynolds and Casey Kirwan for his second career victory in the series.
COCA-COLA 300 RESULTS:
- 2 – Ray Alfalla – Virtual Racing School
- 21 – Garrett Lowe – Wood Brothers Racing
- 55 – Caine Cook – Renegades
- 36 – Chris Shearburn – Letarte eSports
- 32 – Keegan Leahy – Denny Hamlin Racing
- 17 – Kollin Keister – Roush Fenway Racing
- 23 – Casey Kirwan – Denny Hamlin Racing
- 24 – Jake Nichols – Mode Motorsports
- 46 – Jimmy Mullis – Richmond Raceway eSports
- 6 – Nathan Lyon – Roush Fenway Racing
- 8 – Michael Conti – JR Motorsports
- 10 – Justin Bolton – Stewart-Haas eSports
- 16 – Chris Overland – Wood Brothers Racing
- 41 – Dylan Duval – Stewart-Haas eSports
- 99 – Logan Clampitt – Burton Kligerman eSports
- 27 – Corey Vincent – Renegades
- 25 – Nick Ottinger – Williams Byron eSports
- 75 – Phillip Diaz – Mode Motorsports
- 77 – Ashton Crowder – Burton Kligerman eSports
- 42 – Bob Bryant – Bryant Sheehan eSports
- 14 – Brandon Hayse Kettelle – Clint Bowyer Racing
- 5 – Matt Bussa – Williams eSports
- 66 – Jarl Teien – G2 eSports
- 90 – Zack Novak – Richmond Raceway eSports
- 83 – Bobby Zalenski – Virtual Racing School
- 79 – Brian Schoenburg – Clint Bowyer Racing
- 33 – Michael Guest – Team Dillon eSports
- 3 – Blake Reynolds – Team Dillon eSports
- 97 – John Gorlinsky – William Byron eSports
- 88 – Brad Davies – JR Motorsports
- 15 – Michael Guariglia – Jim Beaver eSports
- 54 – Alex McCollum – G2 eSports
- 9 – Eric J. Smith – Jim Beaver eSports
- 53 – Ryan Michael Luza – Williams eSports
- 37 – Christian Challiner – JTG Daugherty Racing
- 47 – Jeremy R Allen – JTG Daugherty Racing
- 4 – Santiago Tirres – Letarte eSports
- 51 – Malik Ray – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 18 – Graham A. Bowlin – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 1 – Steve Sheehan – Bryant Sheehan eSports
Check out the TReSports Photo Gallery from Race #8 at Atlanta Motor Speedway! All Photos by Justin Melillo via iRacing.com.
Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com