SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Keegan Leahy ran down four-time eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series champion Ray Alfalla, passed him late and went on to win Tuesday night at the virtual Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the 11th annual Brickyard 200.
After taking command with eight laps left, the Denny Hamlin eSports driver fended off a final-corner run by Letarte eSports’ Chris Shearburn to earn his second win of the season.
In a race that was controlled by polesitter Michael Conti from the start, then by Alfalla for the majority after Alfalla passed Conti for the lead on the 24th lap, it was strategic positioning that led Leahy to victory lane on a night that only saw one yellow flag.
That yellow occurred on lap 18, when No. 14 iRacing Ford Mustang of Brandon Ketelle made contact with the No. 24 of Jake Nichols after over-correcting coming out of turn two.
Once racing resumed on lap 22, it went green flag to the finish and led to a round of green-flag pit stops just past the halfway point, where both Leahy and Shearburn pitted several laps later than Alfalla did in hopes of using fresher rubber at the end of the race to pounce.
They did just that, but it also came with an assist from Alfalla as well, after the all-time series wins leader and two-time Brickyard winner slapped the outside wall with 11 to go.
Damage to the right side of Alfalla’s No. 2 allowed Leahy to close and eventually make the outside pass on the frontstretch for his second win of the year with Denny Hamlin Racing.
In victory lane, Leahy pointed to his practice with fellow competitor and runner-up Shearburn, who he knew from the start would likely be his greatest competition at IMS.
“There was some really crazy battles there all through the whole race, and Chris Shearburn, I knew was going to be my main competition probably,” Leahy said. “The whole night, I knew. I called it by lap one because I knew we had a really strong car, and we worked together on the setup this week, and he did a great job specifically putting this thing together for race trim. It was great.”
Leahy entered the week at the top of the points standings, and will have an even greater chokehold on the field moving on to the virtual New Hampshire Motor Speedway in two weeks’ time.
Shearburn, who wheeled the No. 36 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Letarte eSports, felt that his second-place finish needed a little bit better execution in the pits to gain the few tenths of a second he needed at the end.
“I mean, when you’re that close, you need just a little bit of everything, or just one thing,” Shearburn said. “I think he was a couple of laps better [on] tires than I was, which was probably the main difference. I probably didn’t have the best pit stop.”
After Indianapolis, Shearburn sits 14th in points, six spot below the playoff cut line.
Alfalla hung on for third with his wounded machine, followed by Garrett Lowe and Conti. Ryan Luza, rookie Graham Bowlin, Casey Kirwan, Bobby Zalenski and Nick Ottinger folled out the top 10 in the final results.
Defending race winner Corey Vincent, who made his 93rd consecutive series start Tuesday night (the longest active streak), was never a factor and finished a disappointing 25th.
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series continues in two weeks on July 14 at the virtual New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
RESULTS: eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series; Indianapolis Motor Speedway; June 30, 2020
1. 32-Keegan Leahy , 2. 36-Chris Shearburn , 3. 2-Ray Alfalla , 4. 21-Garrett Lowe , 5. 8-Michael Conti , 6. 53-Ryan Luza , 7. 18-Graham Bowlin , 8. 23-Casey Kirwan , 9. 83-Bobby Zalenski , 10. 25-Nick Ottinger , 11. 9-Eric J. Smith , 12. 46-Jimmy Mullis , 13. 51-Malik Ray , 14. 33-Michael Guest , 15. 15-Michael Guariglia , 16. 41-Dylan Duval , 17. 4-Santiago Tirres , 18. 10-Justin Bolton , 19. 88-Brad Davies , 20. 55-Caine Cook , 21. 16-Chris Overland , 22. 77-Ashton Crowder , 23. 79-Brian Schoenburg , 24. 6-Nathan Lyon , 25. 27-Corey Vincent , 26. 99-Logan Clampitt , 27. 90-Zack Novak , 28. 17-Kollin Keister , 29. 3-Blake Reynolds , 30. 75-Phillip Diaz , 31. 24-Jake Nichols , 32. 37-Christian Challiner , 33. 42-Bob Bryant , 34. 54-Alex McCollum , 35. 97-John Gorlinsky , 36. 66-Jarl Teien , 37. 47-Jeremy R. Allen , 38. 14-Brandon Kettelle , 39. 5-Matt Bussa .
Lead Changes: Eight among five drivers
Lap Leader(s): Michael Conti 1-13, Keegan Leahy 14-19, Michael Conti 20-23, Ray Alfalla 24-46, Keegan Leahy 47-50, Michael Guariglia 51-55, Blake Reynolds 56-59, Ray Alfalla 60-72, Keegan Leahy 73-80.
Laps Led: Ray Alfalla 36, Keegan Leahy 18, Michael Conti 17, Michael Guariglia 5, Blake Reynolds 4.
Caution Flags: One for three laps
Margin of Victory: .247 seconds
Time of Race: One hour, 13 minutes, 45.767 seconds
Average Speed: 162.684 mph
Strength of Field: 6,898 average iRating