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Ryan Luza wins three-in-a-row, survives Richmond ruckus

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Ryan Luza, driver of the No. 53 Williams Esports Ford Mustang on a normal basis, was victorious at Richmond Raceway on Tuesday, April 14th, 2020. Photo taken from a pre-race practice by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com. Luza drove an unsponsored No. 53 Toyota Camry accidentally in the actual race.

THE VIRTUAL RICHMOND, Va. β€” Ryan Luza just keeps winning.

It didn’t matter that he loaded into the server with the wrong manufacturer, because Luza was still fast enough to come from 37th starting position to win his third race-in-a-row at Richmond Raceway on Tuesday night.

Luza held off Michael Conti and Nathan Lyon in double eNASCAR OvertimeΒ to claim the victory, his third of the season, and the 15th of his career, moving him into sole possession of second all-time, nine wins behind Ray Alfalla.

“I don’t know, I can’t believe this one,” Luza said to the voice of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, Evan Posocco, in the virtual victory lane. “I was going to be happy with a Top 20 and just not getting wrecked, and I made the right call, took two tires early, got up to around 20th, and then we had four tires for the really, really long run. I was just in the right spot at the right time.

“The car was obviously good, but without me getting as fortunate as I did getting through lapped traffic, there’s no way I made it up to third. I don’t know what the pit crew did on the stop to go from third to first, but that won us the race for us. Thanks to my virtual pit crew and everyone at Williams Esports that works so hard to get this done.”

Normally in the No. 53 Williams Esports Ford Mustang, Luza entered the server in an unsponsored Toyota Camry by accident.

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Ryan Luza leads the fieldΒ at Richmond Raceway on Tuesday, April 14th, 2020. Photo taken during the actual race by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

***

On the pole position, Jimmy Mullis and his Richmond Raceway eSports team made it clear that they were going to utilize Home-Field Advantage on Tuesday night. His teammate, the defending eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series champion, Zack Novak, started in 11th, but it was evident early on that both drivers had two of the fastest cars all night.

Mullis lead early and often, but around Lap 50, strategy took him out of the lead and put the Burton Kligerman eSports No. 99 of Logan Clampitt up front.

Clampitt led for a good portion of the long green flag run on older tires, but was eventually passed for the top spot by Chris Overland, driver of the No. 16 for Wood Brothers Racing.

It didn’t last too long for Overland, as he was passed soon after by Mullis and Novak, as well as Luza a few laps later. The caution flag flew, and the strategies had played out to a point that set up the remainder of the event.

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Both Logan Clampitt (99) and Chris Overland (16) led laps before both of their races took a turn for the worse. Clampitt wound up finishing 12th after multiple incidents, and Overland retired after a vicious incident, finishing 39th. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

Luza wound up jumping from third to first under the caution flag pit stops, and from there, it turned into the Ryan Luza show.

Mullis and Novak tried were able to keep pace for the majority of the time, but couldn’t find the pace to get back around Luza.

Another handful of cautions set up the final 25 percent of the event. Jarl Teien, driver of the No. 66 for G2 Esports, stayed out, having a few extra laps on his virtual tires. Caution after caution flew, and up until 14 laps to go in regulation, Teien had the advantage with all the yellow flags.

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Jarl Teien (66) led a good portion of the late stages of the event, but ultimately wound up sixth after falling backwards on older tires. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE via iRacing.com.

At one point, Mullis ran into the back of Teien, and it caused a chain reaction that ultimately took Mullis out of contention after getting spun by Luza and hit by Stewart-Haas eSports’ Justin Bolton.

One Luza took the lead, his restarts kept both the No. 8 JR Motorsports entry driven by Michael Conti and the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing entry driven by Nathan Lyon at bay.

The race went into Double eNASCAR Overtime, but it didn’t matter, as on the final restart, Luza scooted away, and took home yet another checkered flag.

 

***

The race saw a season-high 16 cautions flags, which held the field at caution speed for 77 of the 200 laps.

Luza wound up leading the most laps at 70. Mullis led 56, Clampitt had 39, Teien led 37, and Overland had five laps led.

One of the story lines entering the event was what the status of Kyle Larson Racing eSports would be after Kyle Larson was suspended by NASCAR and fired from Chip Ganassi Racing following an incident involving a racist term on Sunday evening during the Monza Madness event.

KLR eSports drivers Steve Sheehan and Bob Bryant both rocked different paint schemes at Richmond on Tuesday night, completely unassociated with KLR eSports.

At the time of this post, it is unclear whether Larson is still a team owner in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, or if his drivers have become free-agents.

Per Bob Pockrass from FOX Sports, both drivers are now listed as Independents. On a popular points keeping site, Danlisa, they are listed as Bryant-Sheehan eSports.

Larson was suspended from iRacing as well, so it’s unclear if KLR eSports is no longer part of the series, or if there will be a team to take over as owners for both Sheehan and Bryant going forward.

***

It was an up-and-down-and-up-again day for Virtual Racing School’sΒ Bobby Zalenski, who ultimately finished fourth. The result was enough to maintain his points lead over Luza by 15 points entering the next race at Dover International Speedway in two weeks.

Keegan Leahy, Garrett Lowe, Nick Ottinger, Michael Conti, Jake Nichols, and Logan Clampitt currently occupy the rest of the Top 8 points positions.

Next up in the world of NASCAR eSports is the eTruck Series Rumble, hosted by Ryan Vargas, coming up on Thursday night at 7:00 pm ET on both Podium eSports and Speed51.com.

SOURCES:
iRacing
eNASCAR
Twitter
Jacob Seelman, SPEED SPORT

RACE RESULTS:

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

Check out the TReSports Photo Gallery from Race #5 at Richmond Raceway! All Photos by Justin Melillo via iRacing.com.

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Justin Melillo View All

Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com

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