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Ray Alfalla survives, wins in wild ending at Darlington Raceway; SEVEN drivers advance to 2020 eNASCAR iRacing Series (updated)

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Ray Alfalla celebrates at Darlington Raceway on December 10th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

After a mini-break from the action, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Series returned to action on Tuesday night at the virtual Darlington Raceway.

In the penultimate race of the 2019 season, Ray Alfalla drove his No. 2 Camaro back into victory lane, holding off a fast-paced Graham A. Bowlin in a two-lap dash to the finish after a wild turn of events just laps prior.

“That was probably the luckiest win I’ve ever had, in definitely like a high profile race,” Alfalla said to Podium eSports post race. “I went from fourth to the lead all within a few seconds because of the circumstances.”

With just over ten laps to go, the second-to-last caution of the race collected Michael Guariglia, who spun into Braden Boulos after contact with Michael Guest.

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The second to last caution at Darlington Raceway on December 10th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

As the rest of the field pitted for tires, as Darlington is known to eat rubber even in it’s virtual form, Guariglia stayed out, hoping for a miracle.

On the ensuing restart, Guariglia spun his tires, and the chaos around him ensued.

Nathan Lyon, who won the race off of pit road, passed Guariglia before the restart, and was penalized by the in-game rulebook and upheld by the live officials for jumping the restart.

As Lyon began to make the turn into the pits to serve the penalty, Guariglia bounced off the wall off of Turn 2, and many drivers attempted to miss him, but wrecked in the process.

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Mayhem on the backstretch at Darlington Raceway on December 10th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

The incident set up a two-lap dash, and the lead was gifted to Alfalla after Lyon served his penalty.

Bowlin was arguably the car to beat all race after he took the lead from Caine Cook at lap 32, but lined up behind Guariglia on the second-to-last restart, and lost the position to Alfalla into Turn 1, as Alfalla started behind Lyon.

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Caine Cook (55) and Graham A. Bowlin (41) led a combined 113 of 125 laps at Darlington Raceway on December 10th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

The end result of the matter vaulted seven drivers into the 2020 roster for the eNASCAR iRacing Series (formerly known as the eNASCAR Peak Antifreeze iRacing Series).

(Editor’s note: The original article stated only five drivers had advanced, but it was found on Wednesday that two more drivers mathematically have clinched a spot in the 2020 roster.)

Alfalla and Bowlin advanced with their 1-2 finish on Tuesday night, as they were already 1-2 in the standings, except in the opposite order.

Lyon, who wound up finishing 32nd after the miscue, still advances despite the poor result. The finish will count as his drop race, as the final standings will reflect one drop race per driver, calculating every driver’s six best finishes (of seven races) on the season.

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Graham A. Bowlin (41) leads Nathan Lyon (47) at Darlington Raceway on December 10th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

John Gorlinsky had a rough race, with a pit miscue early that dropped him into the back half of the field. Gorlinsky never fully recovered and wound up finishing 30th, but also has enough points to clinch a place in the class of 2020.

Bob Bryant had a hill to climb at Darlington, starting from the 36th position. A fierce yet patient drive from Bryant landed him a seventh place finish, and a guaranteed spot in the 2020 field with one week to spare.

Finally, two more drivers can breathe a sigh of relief, as after navigating the confusion from figuring out the drop week situation, it was found that both Ashton Crowder and Alex McCollum will advance no matter what happens at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Crowder finished in third on Tuesday night, and currently sits 31 points above the cut line. Normally, a driver would need to be 45 points above the cut off to clinch, but the tricky part is that the 31 points is already figuring in a drop week, and for Crowder, that’s a 24th place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway that earned 18 points.

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Ashton Crowder will return to the eNASCAR iRacing Series in 2020. Photo is from his eNiRS victory at Darlington Raceway from August earlier this year. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Even if Crowder finishes worse than 24th at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he’s guaranteed to have at least 18 points added to his current total, as the lowest finish on the entire season is dropped. 17 or less points at Homestead means that Homestead gets dropped for Crowder, and the 18 points earned at Atlanta gets added back to the mix, no longer dropped.

The same can be said for Alex McCollum. McCollum is 30 points ahead of the cut off, and has a 26th place finish at Dover that drops 16 points as of now. Add them together, and there is no current path that the 21st place driver in points can outpoint McCollum by the end of the season, clinching his place in the Top 20 and the 2020 Series roster.

Per Podium eSports, Guariglia sits on the Top 20 cut line, in 20th position. Cody Byus is the first driver outside of the cut, in 21st place, six points behind Guariglia.

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Graham A. Bowlin leads the field at Darlington Raceway on December 10th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Byus, along with Casey Tucker, Nickolas Shelton, Logan Kress, and Benjamin W. Nelson, are all in jeopardy of missing out on making the 2020 roster after competing in the 2019 campaign.

Timmy Hill, Adam Benefiel, and Ryan Lowe, all 2019 eNASCAR iRacing Series drivers, have officially been eliminated from making the Top 20 and getting back into the series.

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Ray Alfalla crosses the line first at Darlington Raceway on December 10th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

On the flip side, Eric J. Smith, Chris Shearburn, Brandon Hayse Kettelle, Caine Cook, Chris Overland, Michael Guest, Brian Schoenburg, and Michael Guariglia are on the positive side of things, all hoping to stay there after next week’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to return to the eNASCAR iRacing Series.

Alex McCollum, Kollin Keister, Steve Sheehan, Jeremy R. Allen, Santiago Tirres, and Justin Bolton are also on the positive side of the cut line, and are all hoping to advance in via the iRacing Road-To-Pro.

The season finale takes place next Tuesday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, live on Podium eSports and iRacing TV at 9:00 pm ET.

SOURCES:
iRacing.com
Podium eSports

RACE RESULTS:

  1. 2 – Ray Alfalla
  2. 41 – Graham A. Bowlin
  3. 27 – Ashton Crowder
  4. 55 – Caine Cook
  5. 36 – Chris Shearburn
  6. 08 – Jeremy R. Allen
  7. 53 – Bob Bryant
  8. 24 – Cody Byus
  9. 98 – Justin Bolton
  10. 5 – Brian Schoenburg
  11. 51 – Eric J. Smith
  12. 18 – Santiago Tirres
  13. 02 – Chris Overland
  14. 25 – Kollin Keister
  15. 28 – Casey Tucker
  16. 00 – Will Cooley
  17. 81 – Adam Benefiel
  18. 64 – Jeremy B. Davis
  19. 34 – Brad Mahar
  20. 91 – Alex McCollum
  21. 15 – Michael Guariglia
  22. 54  – Michael Guest
  23. 95 – Jesse Schwarz
  24. 33 – Benjamin W. Nelson
  25. 80 – Brandon Hayse Kettelle
  26. 6 – Steve Sheehan
  27. 42 – David Shutt
  28. 10 – Liam Brotherton
  29. 12 – Nickolas Shelton
  30. 21 – John Gorlinsky
  31. 32 – Bryan Blackford
  32. 47 – Nathan Lyon
  33. 01 – Braden Boulos
  34. 31 – Logan Kress
  35. 13 – Matthew Wright
  36. 30 – Corey A. Carpenter
  37. 26 – Ethan Lane
  38. 8 – Adam Gilliland

Did Not Race: 7 – Ryan Lowe, 56 – Timmy Hill

Justin Melillo View All

Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com

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