Huffman Survives Saturday Night Thunder Chaos

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Huffman Survives Saturday
Landon Huffman celebrates after winning at virtual Talladega Superspeedway. (Justin Melillo photo)

TALLADEGA, Ala. – In a last lap for the ages at the virtual Talladega Superspeedway, Landon Huffman survived an overtime finish to win the eNASCAR Saturday Night Thunder feature at the 2.66-mile oval.

Huffman took the final restart in third and pushed then-leader Logan Seavey for most of the green-white-checkered attempt, but saw the outside lane prevail at first as Anthony Alfredo and Josh Berry teamed up in the draft and began to take control of the race.

However, Berry ducked out coming to the white flag and ended up hooking Alfredo into the outside wall, sparking chaos that shuffled the frontrunners as Huffman looked for a way by.

He found the avenue with the help of a charging Justin Haley coming down the backstretch. At that point, Huffman moved up from behind Seavey to pick up Haley, charging into a lead he would never relinquish after that.

Contact between Haley and Seavey coming through the tri-oval sparked a second multi-car accident on the last lap, but it was all behind Huffman, who beat Berry to the stripe for the victory.

It was the most improbable of tales, especially considering that Huffman never led in regulation and paced only one lap – the final one – en route to Saturday’s triumph.

“To be honest, I probably shouldn’t have won this one,” admitted Huffman. “I was just in the right place, at the right time, and avoided most of the wrecks.

“I was telling the guys on my Discord server that this win feels a lot bigger than some of my real-life wins. Opportunities in the real world have been hard to come by, so to be racing against all of these guys like this in an event that iRacing puts on is incredible. We’re all here to have a good time, stream it to our fans. That was pretty badass, pretty cool.”

True to the unpredictable nature of Talladega, the top three finishers all started outside the top 25, led by Huffman’s run from 29th into virtual victory lane.

Josh Berry passed the most cars on the night in coming from 37th to second, while 32nd-starting Joe Graf Jr. finished third ahead of Tommy Joe Martins and Spencer Boyd.

Brett Moffitt, Austin Cindric, Scott Stenzel, CJ McLaughlin and Tyler Ankrum completed the top 10.

Ankrum actually got turned out of the race lead on the backstretch to set up the overtime finish, but still had his fast repair available and as such, was able to continue on.

That was one of several big accidents to take place during the event, whittling the field down dramatically during the second half.

Perhaps the wildest incident came just after halfway, when Noah Gragson pounded the outside SAFER Barrier and went flipping up into the turn-three catchfence before coming to a halt.

Huffman became the third Saturday Night Thunder winner in three events, and while the Talladega race did have six cautions, it also featured plenty of wheel-to-wheel, green-flag action.

“I feel like for the most part, it was pretty solid,” noted Huffman of the racing. “People rode for a good portion of the middle of the race. Up front they were still side-by-side racing. Everyone watching got a good show.

“Once everybody got used to how the virtual cars race, I knew the racing would get better. Each week we do this, the racing is going to get better. It’s just a testament to iRacing for what they’re able to put together for us.”

The finish:

1. Landon Huffman [29], 2. Josh Berry [37], 3. Joe Graf Jr. [32], 4. Tommy Joe Martins [19], 5. Spencer Boyd [20], 6. Brett Moffitt [28], 7. Austin Cindric [16], 8. Scott Stenzel [8], 9. CJ McLaughlin [39], 10. Tyler Ankrum [31], 11. Ryan Truex [30], 12. Jeb Burton [33], 13. Brandon Brown [23], 14. Will Rodgers [10], 15. Christian Eckes [3], 16. Ryan Vargas [6], 17. Todd Gilliland [36], 18. Ryan Ellis [34], 19. Jesse Iwuji [15], 20. Justin Haley [22], 21. Drew Herring [17], 22. Logan Seavey [26], 23. Matt Mills [12], 24. Derek Kraus [18], 25. Josh Bilicki [13], 26. Myatt Snider [38], 27. Anthony Alfredo [7], 28. Bayley Currey [5], 29. Josh Williams [21], 30. Justin Allgaier [9], 31. Stephen Leicht [24], 32. Drew Dollar [14], 33. Donny Lia [27], 34. Chase Briscoe [2], 35. Chase Cabre [35], 36. Harrison Burton [25], 37. Kyle Weatherman [1], 38. Ty Gibbs [40], 39. Alex Labbe [4], 40. Noah Gragson [11].

Lead Changes: 22 among 10 drivers.

Lap Leader(s): Kyle Weatherman 1-2, Alex Labbe 3, Kyle Weatherman 4-5, Christian Eckes 6-8, Anthony Alfredo 9-11, Alex Labbe 12-13, Anthony Alfredo 14, Christian Eckes 15, Alex Labbe 16, Christian Eckes 17, Alex Labbe 18-19, Anthony Alfredo 20, Christian Eckes 21-29, Harrison Burton 30, Christian Eckes 31-33, Bayley Currey 34, Christian Eckes 35-43, Josh Berry 44-49, Logan Seavey 50, Tyler Ankrum 51-55, Logan Seavey 56-60, Anthony Alfredo 61, Landon Huffman 62.

Laps Led: Christian Eckes 27, Anthony Alfredo 6, Josh Berry 6, Alex Labbe 6, Logan Seavey 6, Tyler Ankrum 5, Kyle Weatherman 4, Harrison Burton 1, Bayley Currey 1, Landon Huffman 1.

Hard Charger: Josh Berry (+35)

Caution Flags: Six for 23 laps.

Margin of Victory: .146 seconds.

Time of Race: One hour, 25 minutes, 17.107 seconds.

Average Speed: 116.025 mph.

Fastest Qualifier: Josh Berry (178.311 mph, 53.704 seconds)