Lopez times it right, wins eNASCAR iRacing Road to Pro opener

Photo by SetH EGGERT for KICKIN' THE TIRES / iRacing

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

The 2020 eNASCAR iRacing Road to Pro started off with a bang as Jordy Lopez Jr. won a wild race at the virtual Daytona International Speedway.

The race ultimately came down to being in the right spot at the right time for Lopez. A multi-truck accident that involved at least 10 iRacers with 42 laps to go put the Horizon Racing driver and the rest of the field on the knife’s edge on fuel mileage.

Lopez led a group of drivers down pit road with 30 laps to go for a splash and go. Meanwhile, Ryan Doucette remained on track with a group of 11 other iRacers. That group had was forced as Lopez was at times four seconds a lap faster. On lap 82, Lopez freight-trained the four remaining drivers on the fuel saving strategy, led by Brad Mahar.

Despite a second multi-truck pile-up that forced a caution with 12 laps to go, and another that did not force a caution with three laps to go, Lopez led 18 of the final 20 laps. A final lap push by Cody Byus put the duo ahead of the outside line coming to the checkered flag. Lopez took the checkered 0.063 seconds ahead of Byus.

“I needed a caution in the second have, and thankfully we got one,” admitted Lopez. “Early on, I couldn’t see my pit sign. I completely missed it and ended up losing the lead pack. I was praying for a caution to save my race, or I was going to get lapped. It came out at the perfect time for us.

“I never looked back after that. Malik Ray (eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series driver) was amazing in the spotter’s stand at the end. We made it happen. The bottom line worked for us that final run and we knew we had to defend that on the last lap in order to win this one.”

Mistakes on pit road changed the race for many. It put Lopez out of the lead pack and out of danger. Daniel Roeper’s crew failed to check the fuel box and he ran out of fuel in the middle of the pack.

Byus had a similar, but intentional, version of the strategy Lopez was forced to employ. He hung in the back of the pack and waited out the chaos. Once he connected with Lopez, he remained committed to him, determined to have a good points night.

“Our whole race definitely didn’t go as planned,” explained Byus. “Darik Bourdeau and I were determined to stay in the back for the majority of the race. We just lost too much time during pit stops. All in all, we lucked out with the timing of the yellows. That gave us an opportunity at the end. Missing that wreck inside 10 laps to go was huge; there were only six or seven of us with a shot after that.”

Andrew Faryniarz rounded out the podium with Bryan Blackford and Seth DeMerchant in tow. Donovan Strauss, Jarrett Liebert, Spencer E. Burns, Darik Bourdeau, and Blake Bryant completed the top-10.

Two former eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series drivers that are attempting to return to the series. Brandon Hauff and Nicholas Morse finished outside the top-25 after being swept up in accidents.

In total, there were 24 splits with at least 33 iRacers each. Adam Gilliland, another former eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series driver, won the second split. Other winners included Garrett Konrath (third split), Hunter O. Johnson (fourth split), Brandon Pipgrass (fifth split), Alex W. Bell (sixth split), Shawn M. Butler (seventh split), Steven Steffen (eighth split), Ty E. Bass (ninth split), and Matt Forkapa (10th split).

The 11th split was won by Thomas G. McBride. Noah Rangel (12th split), Duane Hunt (13th split), Andrew Townsend (14th) split, Maxime Theriault (15th split), Travis Elliott (16th split), Gary Champion (17th split), Anthony Durham (18th split), Mitchell Clark (19th split), Kristy Linehan (20th split), Zachary A. Mertes (21st split), Jason Bottoms (22nd split), Bryan Wang (23rd split), and David Johnson (24th split) also collected victories Tuesday night.

The eNASCAR Road to Pro Series is back in action on March 24 at the virtual Rockingham Speedway.

The finish:

Jordy Lopez Jr., Cody Byus, Andrew Faryniarz, Bryan Blackford, Seth DeMerchant, Donovan Strauss, Jarrett Liebert, Spencer E. Burns, Darik Bourdeau, Blake Bryant, Braden Boulos, Ryan Doucette, Garrett Manes, Ryan Kuhn, Jake Matheson, Dylan C. Jones, Jacob Hall, Brad Mahar, Carson Hocevar, Briar LaPradd, Max Cookson, Blake Near, Parker Retzlaff, Treyten Lapcevich, Derik Justis, James Mihlbachler, Nicholas Morse, Dillon Raffurty, Devin Curl, Matt M. Adams, Brandon Hauff, Justin Lisonbee, Daniel Roeper, Patrick Mallet.

Lead Changes: 29 among 15 drivers.

Lap Leader(s): Ryan Doucette 1-7, Nicholas Morse 8, Ryan Doucette 9-11, Nicholas Morse 12, Ryan Doucette 13-23, Nicholas Morse 24, Ryan Doucette 25-27, Nicholas Morse 28, Ryan Doucette 29-32, Jarrett Liebert 33, Seth DeMerchant 34, Daniel Roeper 35, Ryan Doucette 36-45, Brandon Hauff 46-47, Briar LaPradd 48-49, Justin Lisonbee 50, Jake Matheson 51-53, Seth DeMerchant 54-64, Jordy Lopez Jr. 65, Blake Bryant 66, Parker Retzlaff 67-69, Ryan Doucette 70-71, Bryan Blackford 72, Ryan Doucette 73-79, Brad Mahar 80-81, Jordy Lopez Jr. 82-94, Seth DeMerchant 95, Jordy Lopez Jr. 96-98, Andrew Faryniarz 99, Jordy Lopez Jr. 100.

Laps Led: Ryan Doucette 47, Jordy Lopez Jr. 18, Seth DeMerchant 13, Nicholas Morse 4, Jake Matheson 3, Parker Retzlaff 3, Brandon Hauff 2, Briar LaPradd 2, Brad Mahar 2, Bryan Blackford 1, Blake Bryant 1, Andrew Faryniarz 1, Jarrett Liebert 1, Justin Lisonbee 1, Daniel Roeper 1.

Caution Flags: Two for eight laps.

Average Speed: 169.698 mph

Strength of Field: 7,169 average iRating.

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  1. Pingback: iRacing Road-To-Pro Week 1 – Daytona Stats, Quirks, and Social Media Buzz – The Racing Experts

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