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Ottinger edges out Luza in Talladega showdown

JTG Daugherty Racing’s Nick Ottinger broke into the win column in the 2019 eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series, narrowly beating series points leader Ryan Luza in a three-lap dash and capping off a thrilling event at Talladega Superspeedway.

A late-race caution set up the sprint to the checkers, with veteran Brad Davies and his JR Motorsports Chevrolet in the lead and Luza on the outside. Ottinger and Cody Byus occupied row two as the race looked to be decided by who would receive the bigger push. The tandems stayed side-by-side until the last lap, when Davies surged ahead entering Turn 3. As the leaders exited Turn 4, Ottinger also cleared Luza, giving him the chance to challenge Davies.

Ottinger seized the opportunity, sweeping to the outside of Davies as the field entered the tri-oval.  Davies moved up to block, giving Garrett Lowe room to make it three wide on the bottom, and Luza squeezed between Davies and Ottinger making it four abreast. Contact sent Davies spinning across the line, but Ottinger had just enough momentum to take the win by 0.029 of second, denying Luza his third straight win.

“I was on the verge of blowing the engine up,” admitted Ottinger, as he described how aggressively he was pushing Davies during the closing laps.

Lowe finished third followed by Davies, who managed a fourth-place finish despite sliding sideways across the line. Byus completed the top five.

The shootout was set up by a caution including four-time series champion Ray Alfalla, who continues to struggle in 2019. Alfalla had rebounded from a fueling issue during his first pit stop to lead laps, but another poor result leaves him 16th in the standings as the halfway point of the regular season approaches.

Luza’s runner-up finish helped bolster his championship lead, which grew to 48 points over Keegan Leahy. Jimmy Mullis is third, an additional 12 points back, followed by Michael Conti, who limped home 29th after sustaining damage in an early crash. Zalenski holds fifth, a single point ahead of Daytona winner Zack Novak of Roush Fenway Racing.

With the final superspeedway race of 2019 behind them, the drivers of the eNASCAR Peak Antifreeze iRacing Series will shift their focus to a pair of 1.5-mile tracks. Coverage resumes May 7th from the virtual Kansas Speedway – 9 pm ET / 6pm PT on eNASCAR.com and Twitch.TV/iRacing.

Watch the full race: