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Kickin The Tires

Ray Alfalla scores first eNASCAR victory since 2018

Photo by SETH EGGERT for KICKIN' THE TIRES / iRacing

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

After his first winless season career last year, Ray Alfalla returned to victory lane at the virtual Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The driver of the No. 2 Virtual Racing School Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE surged forward from the drop of the green flag. Alfalla jumped into the top-10 by the time the first caution waved just over 30 laps in.

Alfalla first took the lead on lap 70. At a track notorious for tire wear, the four-time eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Champion appeared unaffected. Alfalla opened up his lead to just over two seconds before green flag pit stops.

After the pit cycle had completed however, Alfalla had dropped to 11th. Both him and early leader Kollin Keister were among the last of the leaders to pit. That proved to be crucial as the duo blazed through the field. Alfalla took the lead with 30 laps to go and never looked back. He extended his lead to 1.976 seconds over Garrett Lowe when he claimed his 25th career victory.

“I guess I’m not washed-up anymore,” joked Alfalla. “What an effort by everyone at Slip Angle Motorsports getting the Virtual Racing School Camaro up front. We’ve had a lot of good runs this season and would just make a mistake here and there strategy-wise. Charlotte, we had a really good car and made a mistake on a lap eight yellow and it went green the rest of the way.

“Everyone put in a lot of hard work this week, especially Eric Smith. I feel really bad about what happened to him. He said Ray we have a winning car so go win it. It’s been a long time.”

Alfalla’s last win came in 2018, the night he clinched his record-setting fourth eNASCAR Championship. Prior to the 2019 season, the Virtual Racing School driver had earned at least one victory in every eNASCAR season. The veteran iRacer had to fight his way through the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Series over the winter to remain in the Coca-Cola Series.

“Every win I think is going to be my last,” admitted Alfalla. “Last year I was saying, ‘well I went out on top, Homestead, championship, I don’t know if I’ll ever win again.’ It’s not that I lack confidence, I just always have that sense of urgency. I try to win every week and I’m still the driver I’ve always been.”

Caine Cooke, Chris Shearburn, and Keegan Leahy rounded out the top-five. Keister, Casey Kirwan, Jake Nichols, Jimmy Mullis, and Nathan Lyon completed the top-10. Pole sitter Corey Vincent finished 16th.

While Alfalla won the race, he was not the biggest mover, despite starting 26th. That honor actually goes to Shearburn who failed to make a lap in qualifying. The Letarte eSports driver climbed from 40th to take the checkered flag in fourth.

The first 60 laps saw a rash of cautions. Two cautions took out several competitors. On lap 37, Brad Davies spun after contact with Leahy. He collected Ryan Luza and Blake Reynolds in the melee.

The final caution of the night saw Steve Sheehan turned head-on into the outside wall on the frontstretch. Defending series champion Zack Novak, Malik Ray, Christian Challiner, Graham Bowlin, Santiago Tirres and multiple other drivers were also involved. It ended the race for Bowlin, Ray, Sheehan, and Tirres.

The Finish

1. 2-Ray Alfalla [26], 2. 21-Garrett Lowe [18], 3. 55-Caine Cook [12], 4. 36-Chris Shearburn [40], 5. 32-Keegan Leahy [22], 6. 17-Kollin Keister [3], 7. 23- Casey Kirwan [10], 8. 24-Jake Nichols [27], 9. 46-Jimmy Mullis [2], 10. 6-Nathan Lyon [7], 11. 8-Michael Conti [11], 12. 10-Justin Bolton [32], 13. 16-Chris Overland [28], 14. 41-Dylan Duval [33], 15. 99-Logan Clampitt [20], 16. 27-Corey Vincent [1], 17. 25-Nick Ottinger [13], 18. 75-Phillip Diaz [23], 19. 77-Ashton Crowder [37], 20. 42-Bob Bryant [17], 21. 14-Brandon Kettelle [36], 22. 5-Matt Bussa [19], 23. 66-Jarl Teien [14], 24. 90-Zack Novak [5], 25. 83-Bobby Zalenski [21], 26. 79-Brian Schoenburg [21], 27. 33-Michael Guest [25], 28. 3-Blake Reynolds [15], 29. 97-John Gorlinsky [16], 30. 88-Brad Davies [9], 31. 15-Michael Guariglia [6], 32. 54-Alex McCollum [35], 33. 9-Eric J. Smith [29], 34. 53-Ryan Luza [31], 35. 37-Christian Challiner [8], 36. 47-Jeremy R Allen [38], 37. 4-Santiago Tirres [30], 38. 51-Malik Ray [24], 39. 18-Graham Bowlin [4], 40. 1-Steve Sheehan [39].

Lead Changes: 12 among nine drivers.

Lap Leader(s): Corey Vincent 1, Kollin Keister 2-38, Jimmy Mullis 39-44, Kollin Keister 45-57, Jarl Teien 58-61, Kollin Keister 62-64, Nick Ottinger 65-69, Ray Alfalla 70-113, Michael Guariglia 114-116, Brian Schoenburg 117-118, Keegan Leahy 119-132, Michael Conti 133-137, Ray Alfalla 138-167.

Laps Led: Ray Alfalla 75, Kollin Keister 53, Keegan Leahy 14, Jimmy Mullis 6, Michael Conti 5, Nick Ottinger 5, Jarl Teien 4, Michael Guariglia 2, Corey Vincent 1.

Hard Charger: 36-Chris Shearburn (+36)

Cautions: Four for 14 laps.

Margin of Victory: 1.976 seconds.

Time of Race: One hour, 37 minutes, 38.980 seconds.

Average Speed: 158.022 mph.

Pole Winner: 27-Corey Vincent, 28.685 seconds (193,272 mph).

Fastest Lap: 46-Jimmy Mullis, Lap 117, 29.232 seconds (189.655 mph).

Strength of Field: 6,862 average iRating.

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