After 18 races, 2,355 laps, and 240 days since the drop of the green flag in Daytona Beach, Florida, the 2019 eNASCAR Peak Antifreeze iRacing Series Championship was ultimately decided in the last corner on the last lap at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.
In only his third season in the series, the 17 year old driver from Connecticut, Zack Novak, held off Keegan Leahy in a side-by-side battle off of Turn 4 and claimed the 2019 Series Championship.
“That was a grind, all season,” Novak said post-race on NBCSN. “Even that race itself was just a crazy grind, and I can’t believe I’m in this position.
“The very first run of the race, we definitely had a better short run car than Keegan (Leahy), he seemed to be set up a lot better for the long run, and the night as well. I figured we’d be a little bit faster on that last run.”
Bobby Zalenski finished fourth in the event, and third in the overall standings, while Blake Reynolds rounded out the Championship Four with a ninth place finish.
The race saw three cautions for twelve laps, and 17 lead changes among seven drivers.
The final caution of the day flew with just 19 laps to go. At the time, Novak was sandwiched in between leader Jimmy Mullis and Ryan Michael Luza, who both were not competing for the championship.
Leahy was mired back in fifth, but was closing in before the caution, with Reynolds in sixth and Zalenski in seventh.
Novak won the race out of the pits, and Leahy restarted in third. Leahy reclaimed the lead on lap 127, but Novak kept in pursuit swapping the lead a few times and staying as close as possible until his next opportunity.
That opportunity came with seven laps to go, as Novak sailed it off in to the corner, completing a successful “slidejob” on his competitor. Leahy attempted the crossover, but could not get back around.
On the final run through Turns 3 and 4, Leahy pulled up right alongside Novak, and the two squeezed up near the wall. Novak held on, and took the checkers, the championship, and the commendations including more than $40,000 in winnings.
Leahy did lead the most laps on the day at 74, but Novak led the most important lap.
The epic 2019 season finale was broadcasted live on NBCSN, the third time on the season that NASCAR America on NBCSN featured the eNASCAR Peak Antifreeze iRacing Series drivers, and the first as a points paying event.
Novak was previously victorious on NBCSN in an “All-Star” event at the virtual Rockingham Speedway, where he held off Michael Conti for the victory.
All three events on NBCSN this season have featured victories that came down to the last lap, as the first “All-Star” event featured Nick Ottinger holding off Ryan Michael Luza at the line at the virtual Iowa Speedway.
Novak will be honored on stage pre-race at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship race on November 17th.
Pure emotion from @ZNovak15.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 10, 2019
- 6 – Zack Novak – Roush Fenway Racing
- 62 – Keegan Leahy – G2 eSports
- 46 – Jimmy Mullis – Richmond Raceway eSports
- 18 – Bobby Zalenski – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 53 – Ryan Michael Luza – FlipSid3 Tactics
- 27 – Corey Vincent – Renegades
- 21 – Ray Alfalla – Wood Brothers Racing
- 42 – Dylan Duval – Independent
- 30 – Blake Reynolds – Team Dillon eSports
- 36 – Chris Shearburn – Letarte eSports
- 20 – Jake Nichols – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 90 – Malik Ray – Richmond Raceway eSports
- 15 – Michael Guariglia – Jim Beaver eSports
- 77 – Ashton Crowder – Burton Kligerman eSports
- 37 – Christian Challiner – JTG Daugherty Racing
- 51 – Eric J. Smith – Jim Beaver eSports
- 75 – Philip Diaz – Mode Motorsports
- 16 – Chris Overland – Wood Brothers Racing
- 24 – Cody Byus – Mode Motorsports
- 47 – Nick Ottinger – JTG Daugherty Racing
- 8 – Michael Conti – JR Motorsports
- 17 – Michael Guest – Roush Fenway Racing
- 19 – Casey Tucker – Independent
- 2 – Caine Cook – Independent
- 99 – Logan Clampitt – Burton Kligerman eSports
- 31 – Logan Kress – Independent
- 5 – Matt Bussa – Williams eSports
- 66 – Jarl Teien – G2 eSports
- 55 – Brian Schoenburg – Williams eSports
- 14 – Casey Kirwan – Clint Bowyer Racing
- 83 – Adam Benefiel – Independent
- 88 – Brad Davies – JR Motorsports
- 4 – Nathan Lyon – Letarte eSports
- 33 – Benjamin W. Nelson – Team Dillon eSports
- 28 – Garrett Lowe – Renegades
- 80 – Brandon Hayse Kettelle – Independent
- 7 – Ryan Lowe – Independent
- 79 – Nickolas Shelton – Clint Bowyer Racing
DID NOT RACE:
63 – Timmy Hill – FlipSid3 Tactics
74 – Taylor Hurst – Independent
Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com