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Kickin The Tires

Leahy victorious in eNASCAR Brickyard 200

Photo by SETH EGGERT for KICKIN' THE TIRES / iRacing

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

Keegan Leahy cut the final green flag run at the virtual Indianapolis Motor Speedway in half, securing his victory in the Brickyard 200.

The Denny Hamlin Racing driver first took the lead just prior to the first, and only caution of the 200-mile race. Leahy didn’t return to the top spot of the running order until green flag pit stops began just past halfway. However, the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series driver waited to pit.

On lap 50, Leahy ducked onto pit road. By cutting the run in half, he sacrificed time in the short term for speed in the long term. Once the cycle completed, he found himself in fourth, behind Ray Alfalla, Garrett Lowe, and Chris Shearburn.

Leahy and Shearburn made quick work of the Wood Brothers Racing driver before setting their sights on Alfalla. On older tires, the Virtual Racing School driver was already losing time to his competitors. However, a close call by Matt Bussa distracted Alfalla long enough that he clipped the wall.

The damage caused Alfalla to fade in the closing laps. With seven to go, Leahy took the lead. Shearburn, however, needed an additional lap to sneak by Alfalla’s wounded machine. That allowed the virtual No. 32 Direct Force Pro Toyota Camry to open up a lead that couldn’t be surmounted. Leahy took the checkered flag with 0.247 seconds to spare.

“That was crazy,” admitted Leahy. “What an amazing car first of all, pleasure to drive, I’m still driving it because I don’t want to leave (the server). I’m beat. This wheel is awesome, it saved me so many times during the race, I don’t think I could have won without it.

“I just had crazy battles throughout the whole race. Chris Shearburn, who I knew was going to be my main competition from lap one. I knew he had a real strong car, we worked together on the setup this week. He did a great job, specifically him, putting this thing together for race trim.”

The victory was the second this season for Leahy. It is also the seventh of his eNASCAR career. Leahy is now sixth on the all-time win chart in the series.

Alfalla, Lowe, and polesitter Michael Conti completed the top-five. Ryan Luza, Graham Bowlin, Casey Kirwan, Bobby Zalenski, and Nick Ottinger rounded out the top-10.

The 200-mile race was slowed only once for a caution. An incident on the backstretch saw Brandon Kettelle bounce off the outside wall and into traffic. He collected Bussa, Jeremy R Allen, and Jake Nichols. Although all four drivers continued, they were all off the pace as a result of their damage. Bussa eventually when flying onto pit road, momentarily distracting race leader Alfalla.

Other on-track incidents did not bring out the caution but affected the running order. Jarl Teien pounded the wall but maintained control. Blake Reynolds and Logan Clampitt had another run-in following their spectacular last-lap crash in the All-Star Race two weeks ago.

The Finish

1. 32-Keegan Leahy [4], 2. 36-Chris Shearburn [20], 3. 2-Ray Alfalla [6], 4. 21-Garrett Lowe [8], 5. 8-Michael Conti [1], 6. 53-Ryan Luza [23], 7. 18-Graham Bowlin [9], 8. 23-Casey Kirwan [15], 9. 83-Bobby Zalenski [36], 10. 25-Nick Ottinger [13], 11. 9-Eric J. Smith [17], 12. 46-Jimmy Mullis [2], 13. 51-Malik Ray [34], 14. 33-Michael Guest [39], 15. 15-Michael Guariglia [26], 16. 41-Dylan Duval [28], 17. 4-Santiago Tirres [38], 18. 10-Justin Bolton [31], 19. 88-Brad Davies [12], 20. 55-Caine Cook [33], 21. 16-Chris Overland [27], 22. 77-Ashton Crowder [3], 23. 79-Brian Schoenburg [11], 24. 6-Nathan Lyon [16], 25. 27-Corey Vincent [18], 26. 99-Logan Clampitt [10], 27. 90-Zack Novak [18], 28. 17-Kollin Keister [37], 29. 3-Blake Reynolds [5], 30. 75-Phillip Diaz [35], 31. 24-Jake Nichols [25], 32. 37-Christian Challiner [24], 33. 42-Bob Bryant [19], 34. 54-Alex McCollum [29], 35. 97-John Gorlinsky [21], 36. 66-Jarl Teien [14], 37. 47-Jeremy R Allen [22], 38. 14-Brandon Kettelle [32], 39. 5-Matt Bussa [30].

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.

Hard Charger: 83-Bobby Zalenski (+27)

Cautions: One for three laps.

Margin of Victory: 0.247 seconds.

Time of Race: One hour, 13 minutes, 45.767 seconds.

Average Speed: 162.684 mph.

Pole Winner: Michael Conti, 49.274 seconds (182.652 mph).

Fastest Lap: 88-Brad Davies, Lap 2, 50,073 seconds (179.738 mph).

Strength of Field: 6,895 average iRating.

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