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Enascar Iracing All Star Event Iowa Photo Finish

Ottinger wins a thriller in eNASCAR iRacing TV debut

Thursday night marked a new chapter for eNASCAR — and this time, it was televised.

Nick Ottinger, the 24-year-old driver from JTG Daugherty Racing, took home the checkered flag in iRacing’s national television debut on NBCSN’s NASCAR America program, barely edging FlipSid3 Tactics racer and eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series standout Ryan Luza in a thrilling photo finish.

What a finish!

The 70-lap race came down to the final corner on lap 70.

PEAK iRacing Series points leader Ryan Luza controlled the lion’s share of the race, keeping charges from Nick Ottinger and Brian Schoenburg at bay and maintaining the lead in dominant fashion.

Ottinger moved past Luza for the top spot with just a handful of circuits remaining, but Luza — 2017 PEAK iRacing Series champ — wasn’t satisfied with finishing second. In the last turn of the last lap, Luza sent his No. 53 Toyota deep into the corner in an attempt to clear Ottinger’s No. 47 Chevrolet, but Ottinger executed a textbook crossover move to slide past Luza’s car and race back to the checkered flag just a nose ahead of second place.

Blake Reynolds, racing for Team Dillon Esports, waited in the wings in third after a hard charge to the front late, but settled for a spot on the podium after Ottinger and Luza raced back to the line without incident.

It was a thrilling finish and a perfect showcase of driver skill for eNASCAR’s national TV debut.

Cup Series cars at Iowa Speedway?

Racing in the virtual world provides some liberties that aren’t always possible in real life — for instance, racing Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars at Iowa Speedway. Even though the real Cup Series tour doesn’t visit Iowa Speedway, it’s a viable combination on iRacing, and it hosted a heck of a show.

Uh oh, Parker!

NBCSN analyst and racer Parker Kligerman joined the field of PEAK iRacing Series drivers and looked fast early — even scoring the pole for the race. Unfortunately for Kligerman, that was the high point of his on-track speed.

As the 70-lap race progressed, the veteran iRacing drivers proved their skill at managing tires, making quick work of PK.

Kligerman’s race took a nosedive when he clobbered the wall off Turn 2, collecting Michael Guest of Roush Fenway Racing.

We’ll give Parker some credit, though — it can’t be easy to help call the race on TV while driving.

Top 10 finishers

With no points on the line and identical-setup cars (plus the presence of the one and only Parker Kligerman), Thursday night’s event differed somewhat from a traditional PEAK iRacing Series event. Still, the best racers rose to the occasion.

1. Nick Ottinger, JTG Daugherty Racing
2. Ryan Michael Luza, FlipSid3 Tactics
3. Blake Reynolds, Team Dillon Esports
4. Brian Schoenburg, Williams Esports
5. Jimmy Mullis, Richmond Raceway Esports
6. Zack Novak, Roush Fenway Racing
7. Caine Cook, Independent driver
8. Logan Clampitt, Burton Kligerman Esports
9. Chris Overland, Wood Brothers Racing
10. Ray Alfalla, Wood Brothers Racing

Reactions roll in

Social media was abuzz with the excitement of the event and its thrilling conclusion.

The participants seemed to agree the race was as fun behind the wheel as it was for spectators.

Let’s do it again soon!