Ottinger Stops Luza In A Monster Mile Clinic

Ottinger Stops Luza
Nick Ottinger won Tuesday night at the virtual Dover Int'l Speedway. (Justin Melillo photo)

DOVER, Del. – In a race at the virtual Dover Int’l Speedway where all eyes were on Ryan Luza’s pursuit of eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series history, it was fitting that Nick Ottinger ended up in victory lane.

Ottinger, who was the first driver to win three races in a row in the series in 2013, prevented Luza from making it four victories in a row with a dominant performance at the Monster Mile on Tuesday night.

The Florida native, who now resides in Claremont, N.C., led 105 of 200 laps en route to his second Coca-Cola Series triumph at Dover, controlling the second half of the race with relative ease.

It looked like it would be Luza’s night, after the 23-year-old ripped past polesitter Ray Alfalla on the 10th circuit and quickly opened up a commanding gap over the rest of the field for the first third of the race.

However, following the first round of green-flag pit stops, Luza slapped the outside wall and sustained right-side damage to his Williams eSports No. 53 – allowing Ottinger to get right to his back bumper.

Entering turn one on lap 80, Ottinger dove to Luza’s inside and wrested the race lead away, effectively grabbing control of the event from there.

Ottinger pitted for the final time with 75 to go, and when the cycle of stops concluded 16 circuits later, he found himself back in front for good and led the rest of the laps virtually uncontested.

A caution moments after Ottinger retook the lead set the field back up on his bumper for the run to the finish, but only Garrett Lowe had anything for the William Byron eSports veteran in the closing stretch.

Racing resumed with 54 to go and Lowe tracked down Ottinger five laps after the restart, but pounded the outside wall off turn four with 49 laps left and dropped anchor as Ottinger escaped in a hurry.

From there, there was no stopping Ottinger from reaching victory lane for the 15th time in his Coca-Cola Series career, deadlocking him once again with Luza for second on the all-time series win list.

“This feels awesome. That was a workout, managing the equipment all race long,” Ottinger said. “Garrett gave me a run for my money at the end, and I want to go back and look at it, but I do think I gave him enough room to race me. That was just a product of getting down to the end of the race and neither of us wanting to lift in that situation. We knew whoever got out front was probably going to be the one that ended up winning it.

“What a car. What a Logitech G Chevrolet,” he added. “That was a testament to all the hard work we put in leading into this race and I think it showed tonight. That was a whole lot of fun.”

JR Motorsports had a solid night, with two cars in the top six, but it was 11-year series veteran Brad Davies who finished in the runner-up spot – 2.695 seconds adrift of Ottinger at the checkers.

Dylan Duval completed the podium for Stewart-Haas eSports, followed by Luza and Denny Hamlin eSports’ Keegan Leahy. Conti brought the second JR Motorsports entry home in sixth.

Eric J. Smith, Graham Bowlin, Bob Bryant and Steve Sheehan completed the top 10.

After leading the first nine laps from the pole, Alfalla was never a factor and faded to 25th in the final rundown. His Virtual Racing School teammate Bobby Zalenski struggled too, finishing a distant 32nd.

A record-low two caution flags slowed the pace for eight laps, with 14 lead changes among 10 drivers.

The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season continues May 12 at Charlotte Motor Speedway with the longest race on the schedule, a 300-mile event. Leahy is the defending event winner.

The results:

1. 25-Nick Ottinger [2], 2. 88-Brad Davies [10], 3. 41-Dylan Duval [13], 4. 53-Ryan Luza [3], 5. 32-Keegan Leahy [29], 6. 8-Michael Conti [6], 7. 9-Eric J. Smith [5], 8. 18-Graham Bowlin [23], 9. 42-Bob Bryant [15], 10. 1-Steve Sheehan [17], 11. 3-Blake Reynolds [28], 12. 37-Christian Challiner [9], 13. 66-Jarl Teien [36], 14. 97-John Gorlinsky [25], 15. 51-Malik Ray [19], 16. 21-Garrett Lowe [7], 17. 33-Michael Guest [32], 18. 36-Chris Shearburn [18], 19. 6-Nathan Lyon [33], 20. 77-Ashton Crowder [4], 21. 54-Alex McCollum [14], 22. 79-Phil Diaz [26], 23. 10-Justin Bolton [16], 24. 24-Jake Nichols [21], 25. 2-Ray Alfalla [1], 26. 5-Matt Bussa [8], 27. 15-Michael Guariglia [24], 28. 90-Zack Novak [35], 29. 99-Logan Clampitt [12], 30. 16-Chris Overland [37], 31. 4-Santi Tirres [34], 32. 83-Bobby Zalenski [30], 33. 27-Corey Vincent [11], 34. 79-Brian Schoenburg [20], 35. 23-Casey Kirwan [22], 36. 46-Jimmy Mullis [27], 37. 55-Caine Cook [31].

Lead Changes: 14 among 10 drivers

Lap Leaders: Ray Alfalla 1-9, Ryan Luza 10-65, Garrett Lowe 66, Dylan Duval 67, Keegan Leahy 68, Bobby Zalenski 69-70, Jarl Teien 71-73, Ryan Luza 74-79, Nick Ottinger 80-124, Garrett Lowe 125-133, Ryan Luza 134-135, Zack Novak 136-138, John Gorlinsky 139, Jarl Teien 140, Nick Ottinger 141-200.

Laps Led: Nick Ottinger 105, Ryan Luza 64, Garrett Lowe 10, Ray Alfalla 9, Jarl Teien 4, Zack Novak 3, Bobby Zalenski 2, Dylan Duval 1, Keegan Leahy 1, John Gorlinsky 1.

Caution Flags: Two for eight laps

Margin of Victory: 2.695 seconds

Time of Race: One hour, 24 minutes, 55.873 seconds

Average Speed: 141.291 mph

Pole Position 2-Ray Alfalla, 20.853 seconds (172.637 mph)

Fastest Lap: 9-Eric J. Smith, 21.580 seconds (166.821 mph, lap 67)

Strength of Field: 6,870 average iRating