BRASELTON, Ga. – In a slam-banging, slip-sliding dash to the finish line, Devon Morgan edged out Parker Retzlaff to win Saturday night’s eRattler 250 presented by PFC Brakes at the virtual Lanier Raceplex.
Filling the void left by the real-life Rattler 250, which would have been held over the weekend, Morgan stole the spoils of victory with a last-lap, last-corner pass that left the short-track world talking long after the checkered flag waved.
After the last of 17 cautions in the 250-lap event set up a green-white-checkered finish at the three-eighths-mile oval, a war between Max Cookson – who led the final restart and was out front on the white-flag lap – and Morgan opened the floodgates off turn four.
Morgan got into Cookson and sent him up the race track, but in doing so washed wide himself and opened the door for a charging Parker Retzlaff on the bottom of the race track.
Retzlaff tried to make tracks underneath Morgan in an effort to beat the No. 112 to the finish line, but a shot in the rear bumper from Cookson actually propelled Morgan across the stripe just ahead of Retzlaff, in a photo finish that was nearly too close to call.
The official margin of victory was .002 seconds, with Morgan coming out on top of Retzlaff.
In victory lane, Morgan noted that he didn’t want to use the chrome horn to get the job done, but that it was necessary on the final lap given how the circumstances shook out.
“I knew I really didn’t have anything for him if he ever got clear of me,” said Morgan. “That’s exactly what he did; he got a good restart. Luckily, Parker (Retzlaff) spun the tires a little bit and I was able to get in there and move him up the racetrack.
“I did what I had to do, I hate it to be like that but Cookson would’ve done the same thing. I know he’s not happy right now but he can’t deny he wouldn’t have done it and probably would have done it worse than what I did,” Morgan added. “That was a show, that’s something you’d see at your local Saturday night short track.
“I hope all the fans enjoyed it.”
For Cookson, who crossed the line third, he was understandably dejected after a race he thought he had all sewn up.
“We were the car to beat tonight, without a doubt. It was a rocket ship,” Cookson noted. “The 42 car (Retzlaff) spun the tires, so Morgan got in there … and he doesn’t have enough respect to race it out clean. He drove right through us there and doored us out of the way to win.”
Runner-up Retzlaff admitted afterward that he thought he had the victory at the stripe, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“Man, everybody started screaming like I had won the race … and I just lost it to Devon by a little bit,” Retzlaff said.
Thomas Axsom, who led a race-high 108 laps after starting from the pole, finished fourth and Riley Stenjem completed the top five.
Ryan Doucette was sixth, ahead of Kaden Honeycutt, Ryan Kuhn, Rafe Slate and Layne Riggs.
Prior to the last-lap thrill show, 17 cautions slowed the pace for 87 of the 250 laps, but a green-flag run still did break out for 42 circuits between laps 81 and 123.
A 50-lap last-chance qualifier was held prior to the main eRattler 250 feature, won by Slate, who led all 50 laps in a No. 8 painted just like his real-life pro late model.
Saturday night’s short-track special was held at the virtual Lanier Raceplex, as opposed to the Rattler 250’s true home of South Alabama Speedway, because the Opp, Ala., oval has not been scanned by iRacing to this point.
Several short-track drivers – including Ty Majeski, who designed the setup used by all the competitors in Saturday’s race – called Lanier “the closest” to South Alabama in iRacing.
Saturday’s event was produced by Podium eSports and streamed through Speed51.
1. Devon Morgan, 2. Parker Retzlaff, 3. Max Cookson, 4. Thomas Axsom, 5. Riley Stenjem, 6. Ryan Doucette, 7. Kaden Honeycutt, 8. Ryan Kuhn, 9. Rafe Slate, 10. Layne Riggs, 11. Jake Matheson, 12. Cayden Lapcevich, 13. Carson Hocevar, 14. Brandon Wilkinson, 15. Logan Runyon, 16. Treyten Lapcevich, 17. Cole Williams, 18. R.S. Senter, 19. Daniel Silvestri, 20. Kyle Sieg, 21. Devin O’Connell, 22. Colin Allman, 23. Corey Deuser, 24. Chandler Smith, 25. Christian Eckes, 26. Collin Slife, 27. Connor Hall, 28. Connor Okrzesik.
Lead Changes: 11 among six different drivers.
Lap Leaders: Thomas Axsom 1-80, Devon Morgan 81-123, Logan Runyon 124-125, Thomas Axsom 126-153, Parker Retzlaff 154-161, Devon Morgan 162-167, Riley Stenjem 168, Devon Morgan 169-195, Max Cookson 196-243, Devon Morgan 244, Max Cookson 245-249, Devon Morgan 250.
Laps Led: Thomas Axsom 108, Devon Morgan 78, Max Cookson 53, Parker Retzlaff 8, Logan Runyon 2, Riley Stenjem 1.
Caution Flags: 17 for 87 laps.
Average Speed: 72.997 mph