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.
What a finish! https://t.co/pHkm6GVr4z
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) July 25, 2019
— iRacing.com (@iRacing) July 25, 2019
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.
We'll take a finish like this on Saturday at @iowaspeedway.
— Xfinity Racing (@XfinityRacing) July 25, 2019
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.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) July 25, 2019
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.
— Steve Luvender (@steveluvender) July 25, 2019
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.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) July 25, 2019
What a race for the first time having @iRacing televised live on @NASCARonNBC! @RyanLuza runs an amazing race with a neck and neck finish as he claims the #2 spot in the eNASCAR iRacing All-Star 2019 Race.
— FlipSid3 Tactics (@FlipSid3Tactics) July 25, 2019
Inspired me to run a little bit pic.twitter.com/4UMYHQPR35
— William Byron (@WilliamByron) July 25, 2019
Ok that was super cool to see! Been sim racing for a long time, and glad to see it getting the recognition it deserves. And what a race! #eSports #eNASCAR @peakauto @iRacing #NPAS https://t.co/WDGHOy3UsF
— Garrett Smithley (@GarrettSmithley) July 25, 2019
— tj majors (@Tjmajors) July 25, 2019
— Texas Motor Speedway (@TXMotorSpeedway) July 25, 2019
We may need to get a simulator for the office🤷♂️
— Chicagoland Speedway (@ChicagolndSpdwy) July 25, 2019
The participants seemed to agree the race was as fun behind the wheel as it was for spectators.
— Logan Clampitt (@lclampitt44) July 25, 2019
P9 tonight, and that was our lowest point in the entire race. Too tight at the end, but I drove my heart out tonight. So excited to have participated in the first ever nationally televised sim-racing event. Thank you @NBCSN, @iRacing, and @WoodBrosGaming. Congrats @NickOttinger! pic.twitter.com/nYCvKXjT8n
— Chris Overland (@ChrisOverland47) July 25, 2019
What a day for sim racing! P5 today in the @NASCAR @peakauto @iRacing Series All Star race. Started 15th, felt like I had pace to get up front and fight for the win but just ran out of laps. Huge thanks to @NASCARonNBC for giving us this amazing opportunity!#RReSports pic.twitter.com/tNZ0L6FlZi
— Jimmy Mullis (@jmullisracing) July 25, 2019
Really fun race we just did for @NASCARonNBC, started at the tail end and worked through to 17th by the flag. Everyone raced really respectfully and made it a fun event. Hopefully we'll be back for more of these in the future 🙂
— Christian Challiner (@Christian_C37) July 25, 2019
— Michael Conti (@MikeConti5) July 25, 2019
We didn’t get the finish we wanted in our @JoeGibbsRacing #TRD #Camry. Got some damage in the 2nd half that hindered our handling making us really tight. Either way it was lots of fun racing and battling for a top 10 most of the race.
— Jake Nichols (@JakeNichols73) July 25, 2019
— Bobby Zalenski (@bobbyzalenski) July 25, 2019
— Casey Kirwan (@CaseyKirwan14) July 25, 2019
That was a heck of a lot of fun to get this @JTGRacing @kroger team a win on live TV! Can't believe how much sim-racing and @iRacing has grown this year. This is what us as sim-racers race for, opportunities like this. Thanks to everyone @NBCSN for a fantastic opportunity! pic.twitter.com/hd5IYs3EUE
— Nick Ottinger (@NickOttinger) July 25, 2019
Let’s do it again soon!